City of Charlotte doesn’t need another Web site

By Posted in - Social Media & Uncategorized on May 10th, 2010 0 Comments

Bill Cosby once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

I thought about this comment a lot this weekend, especially after I read the Charlotte Observer’s Sunday paper and its “Charlotte’s social media policy: Not so social?…No Comment” article.

The City of Charlotte wants to incorporate Facebook and Twitter pages to communicate its news and messages to its audiences.  Sounds good…so far.  But they want the ability to control comments on these pages – and to be able to remove negative comments when posted.  The problem is, when you start pushing your messages out to people but don’t give them the opportunity to express their opinion, ask questions or generally comment on items, then your page becomes static – and it serves as nothing more than a Web site.

People who are interested in starting Facebook or Twitter pages for their companies/brands sometimes ask, “What if they say something bad about my brand?”  My response is:

  • People are already saying what they want about your brand offline.  With social media, you can actually participate in the conversation, ask questions, clarify items and even learn from negative comments.
  • If your company’s page receives a complaint about a product or service, you can use this constructive criticism as a way to connect on a more personal level with the person who had an experience bad enough to complain about it.
  • If the comments are obscene, false or irrelevant to the content you are posting, feel free to delete it.  But don’t view every negative post and dismiss it – you will be ignoring many opportunities to engage with loyal ambassadors and continually improve your brand.

Bob Hagemann, one of the city’s staff attorneys, said “”The city has decided that the risks of potentially establishing a designated public forum through social media (and the consequences that follow) are not worth whatever benefit might be obtained.”

And that’s O.K.  Liza and I always say that social media isn’t for everyone and every organization.  If you aren’t going to use social media tools to create an ongoing dialogue with your audiences ( and essentially remove their right to make comments in the first place) then you don’t have to use them at all.

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