What If People Say Bad Things About You?

Steve Rubel did a great Q&A session at last night’s Third Tuesday Toronto meetup. I often find myself disagreeing with Rubel, but I thought most of his answers were right on the money yesterday.

I could write a week’s worth of blog posts on the various issues raised by the session, but I’ll quickly focus on one instead.

My colleague Michael O’Connor Clarke raised an interesting and important question towards the end of the session (which was moderated by Jeremy Wright of B5 Media), and I think Steve missed an opportunity when answering it.

Michael asked:

What’s your response to the people who say, “you’re telling us we should get involved in social media, but what if people start to say bad things about us?”

My response to this (any real-time screw-ups aside):

They already are; you just can’t hear them.

To paraphrase one of Steve’s earlier answers in last night’s session, social media is unlikely to create new issues for your brand (setting screw-ups and over-reactions aside); however it can speed-up existing issues.

If there’s a problem with your brand, people are already saying bad things about you. If you’re not online, they’re just not saying them to you…  because you aren’t listening.

Is the “head in the sand” approach really better?