OK, so it hasn’t quite got the impact of the similar, albeit slightly more famous line from Batman Begins (2005) but the sentiment that sits behind it is the same. It may be true that social networking probably isn’t of major interest to the lone knight himself (can’t imagine Batman being that keen to encourage ‘likes’ or having a particularly great score on Klout!) but it does continue to be ever more important to the lives of us lesser mortals.
Consequently businesses are flocking to social platforms and often because they think they should be there rather than because it forms part of a strategic plan for brand management, customer engagement or strategic analysis. It’s often the case that companies embark on building a social media presence out of a negative compulsion to manage risk, borne of a fear that they need to control what people are saying about their brand. I recently gained firsthand experience of this with my own business…
Some time ago my company Lime Social Marketing, Media & Communications produced My Life | My Choice –a short film that explores issues relating to gangs and weapons as part of a structured educational programme delivered in schools. I was therefore surprised when a group of the actors started a campaign to get the film released.
My attention was drawn to the ‘unofficial’ channels being used to promote the film and the difficulties in controlling what was being said. Should we post links and information, try to divert the flow of traffic, intervene? As quickly as these concerns emerged, a calm, more rational thinking took over. Exercising any control over content being spread virally would be about as easy as trying to prevent a tidal wave by standing on the seashore armed with an umbrella. So I did the only thing I could, I ‘liked’ the fan page and endorsed the campaign.
The simple fact is that if people want to talk about or share something online they are unlikely to wait for anyone else’s permission or support to do it and once that genie is out of the bottle, there’s nothing you can do to change it, the moment has gone. But then why would you want to? Having people talk about your work is a great way to promote it and actively taking part in the dialogue can bring a whole host of invaluable customer insight and feedback.
Businesses need to let go of their fear, accept this simple reality, but above all not get too hung up about control.With the plethora of social platforms that are already available and the advent of new ones like Google+, if you don’t get on board and ride that wave you’ll simply be swept aside by it.
So perhaps the phrase should actually be “to conquer fear we must become social” –the old adage, if you can’t beat them, join them has never been more apt!