You can never go far enough

The first question of my FAQ was “How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept controversy on my website? What moderation level is acceptable?”

I don’t start with the easiest oneūüôā. I sent a mail to Joseph Jaffe to ask his opinion about this. He was very kind to reply¬†and told me¬†that “you (brands) can never go far enough”. In that matter, AOL showed the way with the famous “Is internet a good or a bad thing” campaign¬†(UK) followed by an open discussion on their website (Unfortunately, I don’t think this was archived).

Of course, there are famous cases that went a little out of hand (Vichy France, Chevy Tahoe or the first version of the Coke zero blog) but in those 3 cases, there was a lack of awareness of what the new web was all about.

The womma set some rules that comes down to the Honesty ROI:

  • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
  • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
  • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

I tried hard and in vain¬†to find examples that respected the womma code and that ended as a fiasco. On the other hand, except the AOL case, I don’t know any brand that dared to bring a controversial debate on its own website.

Should they? Isn’t the risk bigger than the potential benefit?

Let’s take extreme examples here: Should an SUV manufacturer or an energy company open a forum on global warming? Should Nike talk with its customers about children labour? Should a fast food giant open a debate on obesity related health issues?

What I usually answer on that question is that this conversation is happening anyway. The choice is not between let the conversation happen or not, it’s between participate or not.

But, IMHO, that matter becomes a little more complex when you represent a local branch of a multinational company (often with limited power to influence the value proposition).

Anyway, I try to present a set of rules:

– Think firstūüôā and understand how an open dialogue will serve your company¬†objectives

– Respect the womma code

– Don’t bring controversy about your brand where there wasn’t (even if I can imagine exceptions to this rule)

РBe transparent on the moderation rules (if any) and know the difference between critic and trolls

РBe transparent about your sphere of influence (especially for local branches of multinational companies): Are you just an advocate of your employer or can you transform the feedback into a new value proposition?

– Do not enter that kind of action if you don’t have a clue of what the new internet is all about

The “you can never go far enough” of Joseph Jaffe could be¬†one of¬†the taglines of the book he will publish in october. I’m confident that Jaffe’s analysis and rules will be much more relevant than mine…

Reminder for myself: include the book in my letter to Santa along with a better english.

10 Responses to “You can never go far enough”

  1. Some minor issues Says:

    Q1: How far should I go in the dialogue with the users?

    As I mentioned before (you might want to read this post first) I’m answering 8 new marketing questions.

    Question 1
    “How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept…

  2. Thanks for asking! « Bad idea, indeed Says:

    […] – How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept controversy on my website? What mod… […]

  3. Different country, same questions, similar answers « Bad idea, indeed Says:

    […] summary of the different presentations¬†is in line with my “you can never go far enough” post. I noted 2 fundamental elements I didn’t […]

  4. To the second degree of separation « Bad idea, indeed Says:

    […] My answer […]

  5. Thanks for answering « Bad idea, indeed Says:

    […] – How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept controversy on my website? What mod… […]

  6. Heartburn Home Remedy Says:

    This is very up-to-date information. I’ll share it on Digg.

  7. Pirsey Says:

    I noticed that this is not the first time you mention the topic. Why have you chosen it again?

  8. Bill Says:

    Some good posts on this blog and a load of usefull info. If you get some free time, drop by and come and take a look at my posts and give me a comment.

  9. Waffeln Says:

    Thanks for the informations! Your blogpost truly helped me.

  10. old dogs song Says:

    How come your blog looks like crap on my blackberry?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: