Published on: January 22, 2013by Michael Sansolo
The Internet can be a blunt and brutal place. It’s built on unruly mobs moving across the virtual terrain, digesting stories and leaving behind carcasses. But it is also one of the last vestiges of wide-eyed, unfettered belief.
The former describes how it is that the strange and elusive case of Manti Te’o is being efficiently dissected on the Web. The latter describes how it is that people on line could love girlfriends who do not exist.
Those two paragraphs launched a front-page story in the Washington Post Friday about the strange case of the Notre Dame football star with the deceased girlfriend who wasn’t there. Given the sordid nature of the story, there is very little chance you have not already heard about this case.
But this column isn’t about Te’o ... because, quite honestly, I don’t know the facts nor do I have any idea what to believe. What’s more, the story might change radically overnight or minute-to-minute.
Instead we need to think about why this strange story matters to you and your business.
Like it or not the uncharted world of the Internet where stories like this can both be born and can become universally discussed, is part of the reality facing business today. Today everything can be public, can be examined and can be right and wrong at the same time.
Pretty scary, isn’t it?
Yet here’s the thing: like it or not, this is the world we live in. In this new world, you don’t get to choose whether to be part of the social web and the non-stop conversations raging on there. Rather, you can only choose how to engage and try your best to make that engagement positive.
The trick is figuring out how to do it. How to speak and listen, and and how to decide in which networks you’ll actively participate. You need to understand how to change and grow in this new environment, and how to possibly manage and measure success. You also need to quickly figure out the rules of engagement for communication both inside and outside your company. Any one of those points is a massive project in itself and you need to do them all.
Last year I wrote a number of columns here on MNB about Untangling the Social Web, the newest study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America. (Again, full disclosure: I am the research director of the Council.) The first five parts of the study attempted to help companies approach the social web by examining what it is, why it is so widely used and how business need to engage.
This year, we take it a step further. As of today you can download Parts 6 and 7 of the study (plus an executive summary of the two) that will walk you through the tactical questions and decisions you face on the social web. The study, authored by the Integer Group, provides discussions, exercises and even simple tips to aid your journey.
Based on feedback I’ve had with countless companies in the past year, this guidance is essential because the discussion they need to have has yet to occur. Instead, they lose sleep as they witness the steady parade of strange stories on the social web whether it concerns Te’o or the real length of Subway’s foot-long sandwiches.
When the executives who make up the Council first conceived this study, they did so acknowledging that they and their peers needed a lot of work to understand the changing landscape of community and communication. Two years later, that need has only grown.
The study can be downloaded here, or you can visit the Council’s website: www.ccrrc.com.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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