Sure, there are always going to be detractors and pranksters, it's part of human nature. But defensive, distrustful, and suspicious are also drawn out when there is a void in knowledge and understanding of how things (and people) work.
[image - snapshot from Domino's video response]
Just like it was narrated superbly in Monsters, Inc. [hat tip to lloyd] once employees and customers know each other, relationships are built and trust is formed.
It was the talk on many social networks last week - a video two Domino's employees posted on YouTube went viral and wrought havoc at the franchise corporate offices. A post from The Consumerist and attention by the New York Times heightened the attention.
If you're still on the fence about this social media thing, you might want to reconsider your thinking in view of how quickly stories become socialized these days. But also because social media brought to the fore the idea that businesses need to do a better job at rebuilding or joining their communities - employees and customers alike.
The snapshots below are from the two FriendFeed discussions I linked to above. They are good examples that people are people - online or offline. There's no witch hunt going on, and opinions are all over the spectrum. Social networks and media are not evil and you should make time to understand why your customers may spend so much time there.
Hint: it's because there's balance of opinions and voices and no canned corporate speak. Let me repeat that - after reading the comments to a dozen posts on Domino's I noticed that the biggest emotion came out when people talked about canned corporate phrases.
In Monsters Inc., CDA Agent says: "We can neither confirm nor deny the presence of a human child here tonight." Do we stipulate that there are canned customers who like to receive canned messages? In this age of personalization and "Me, Inc."?
The one point of criticism to Mr. Doyle's video in the discussion - he was apparently reading from a script or prompter and not looking straight at the camera. Those blue names are all the people who "liked" the link and statement presented by Scoble - 159 of them.
Have you noticed how mainstream media has taken cues from online conversations in their stories? In 5 steps for Domino's digital defense, Time.com seems to be borrowing a page from the top social media blogs on AdAge Power150. I found the story courtesy of Domino's Twitter account, which was started on April 15.
Except for, in usual mainstream media fashion, just like the NYT article, it does not link to any blogger. Why is that? If you run a Google search for "Dominos Pizza", you will find a video from Gary Vaynerchuk at the top of page 2. It was shot prior to the Time.com article. Contrast that with the Consumerist, which revealed and credited its sources.
This viral video thing is not an isolated conversation on Domino's, however. At Consumerist alone there are several entries about issues at Domino franchises over the last couple of years. Which brings us to the point of this post - participation in social media should not be a reaction to get positive Google juice when something about your company draws negative attention.
It should be a proactive opportunity to highlight and communicate directly with your customers about what you are -already - doing to improve your products and services and to serve them better.
Maybe it's a good idea to let the "child" (substitute "customer") in a little. Today at Fast Company Expert blog we discuss 3 tips any business can use to let customers in the conversation.
You guessed it, training employees, developing relationships, and building community are part of the advice.