Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Have Little or NO Control Over What You/They Say

I was chatting with a colleague today about some contract provision revision (like that little alliteration::)) that had to do with control over content. In today's world of digital conversation, re-Tweeting, and a multitude of ways for inserting and sharing content, the days of NDA's, contract content control, and email disclosure statements seem, well, like shutting the barn door AFTER the proverbial collateral colt has galloped. I am often finding myself in the position of asking, as my esteemed friend and associate, Umang Shah of CubedConsulting queries: "Why not?" I think that an almost metaphysical revision of our corporate digital dialogue is necessary and appropriate in an age where being "talked about" is an extremely significant factor in the recognition of our brand and presence. Although I'll stop myself short of suggesting that we dismiss our legal mavens and send NDA"s the way of word-processing teams, I will offer the following:

1. Consider suggesting, even recommending that customer collateral (as long as you have agreement from your client) is "re-peated/Tweeted", shared, emailed, posted, etc. If your reference client has been brought into your program with the appropriate staging, advocating the wide-spread dissemination of a case study about your relationship with them brings them kudos and recognition as much as it brings to you.
2. Challenge your clients to comment, suggest, invite, "talk amongst themselves". The more open that you are in your digital conversation; the more you are perceived as honest, proactive, sincerely interested in the thoughts and input of your clients.
3. Shift the balance of content to externally appropriate and available. Not only will the advance your SEO goals, but for the more casual browsers among your potential clients, it affords a much broader and rich perspective of your relationships with your clients and your corporate persona than continuing to ask them to complete the "contact" exercise. I may be a little jaded, but I like to have a lot of context at my disposal prior to providing my contact information on a corporate website.
4. Hopefully, "they" are talking about you behind your back anyway. I have posted and re-posted, shared and re-shared this point, but our objective is to be the subjective of a digital conversation, whether we have "control" over it or not. My suggestion is that we provide enough juice for people to buzz about and then we follow some strategy regarding our interaction with the same. I propose that even predominantly negative commentary provides us with rich oppportunity for demonstrating our ability to face adversity, resolve problems for our clients, and truly shine.
5. Let it Go. If we are meeting and exceeding our customer service, delivery, SLA, develoment, customer relationship goals, then the conversation about us in the Twitterverse, Blogsphere, community and social media communities should be a wonderful resource for us to mine for our more traditional collateral efforts. Again, the social media and networking applications are TOOLS NOT STRATEGIES, so our efforts should continue to focus on the internal infrastructure, workflow, and teams that create and deliver products and services themselves, not on how to control the communication about them. Right? :)

Warmest regards,
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