In an op-ed entitled Does Your Social Media Strategy Involve Wasting Time on Idiots Like Me, Advertising Age columnist Simon Dumenco fails to grasp the dramatic difference between social media engagement and more conventional channels of communication.
After an anecdote about his attempt to score free Popsicles because of feigned disappointment in the quality of jokes written on the stick, Dumenco shares an equally bizarre Twitter exchange with IHOP.
The point of his ramblings is that brands should simply ignore strange and unproductive online interactions even if they are initiated by a customer.
Dumenco’s advice is misguided for two reasons:
1. He fails to account for the broad audience reach achieved through social networks. Twitter has more than 200 million active users. While only a miniscule percentage tuned in to his dialogue with IHOP, the number is certainly larger than the sole individual at the Popsicle maker exposed who received his letter.
2. Nearly everything on the Web is searchable. This gives unflattering comments, concerns and reviews shelf-life to be accessed by a myriad of future customers as they tap away on Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Social networks, online communities and searchable digital content have morphed even the oddest crank into a quasi-publisher. Brands must pay attention and whenever possible respond.