Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping on of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year’s event, download the brochure.
GE Healthcare Customer Acceleration leader Tom Zimmerman’s opening talk, “Join the Conversation,” just wrapped. In the wake of an open question to the audience – how do you manage a social media firestorm? – I’ve already had two really good conversations.
First off, Zimmerman admitted he’s never had to manage a firestorm on GE’s behalf, so he asked the audience what they’d do. No one was forthcoming about a situation unique to them, but there was plenty of opinion. The big takeaway seemed to be to know your weaknesses in advance of diving into social, and plan ahead for that.
Even if you can’t make the change people demand, stay respectful, open and responsive. A resistant attitude is the kiss of death.
Here’s the gist of two convos I had afterward:
With Ryan Bowling, director of communications for Mars Chocolate: if people know where you stand, and you’re not beating around the bush about it, it’s plenty. Most of Mars’ brands, such as Wrigleys, have individual social media strategies; he knows all community managers and discusses potential community issues with them swiftly. They are equipped with guidelines for how to respond to some social media situations in advance (likely reminiscent of the Air Force’s own Rules of Engagement for Blogging), as well as a clear understanding of the company’s pressure points: if a Mars brand get poked, the hope is that they’ll reflexively know best how to respond, like ninjas.
With Andy Abend of MarketSmarter. He’s blogging the conference too, and we discussed the work it takes to implement a social media strategy with a company that’s determined it wants outside help.
Asked how he feels about Apple’s “closed” and combative attitude toward users in the space, and he laughed.
“Is it really that closed?” he asked. He cited the various product leaks that cause frenzy, and we discussed Gizmodo in some depth; he thinks there was more behind the scenes.
But with regard to whether Steve Jobs’ openly hostile attitude toward journalists, etc. is a bad thing, he grinned and said, “I think it’s just part of the game.” In his view, getting a negative response out of Apple gives users a bit of a fame halo. It’s something that evidently works for Apple, maybe because there’s no ambiguity about where it stands.