Open Conversations Will Kill Your Company

Image by Gauravonomics via Flickr

…And if you believe that, your company has probably been steadily dying over the past year.

Paranoia kills conversation. That’s its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.

The worry that by joining in open conversations, companies would in fact to damage to their brand is still too common in big brands. Losing control frightens them. They’re frightened that their actions might instigate mass volumes of negative comments, posts, and negative press… somehow.

Unfortunately not nearly enough companies understand that each moment they spend pondering the decision to step forward and take a lead, more and more people are calling for them.

Because people aren’t just talking about brands. Each blog post, comment, forum topic isn’t just a mention about a company. Customers are desperately hoping for the brands to hear them, and for the brands to respond to them. They are calling out to the brands.

In one sense, companies have all these fears about participating, based on outcomes that really don’t exist. Companies are paranoid, and the result of their paranoia isn’t just being absent from the conversations, it goes much beyond that. Companies are chipping away at their brands’ reputation bit by bit the longer they wait, all because of their fear of risk.

Joining in open conversation isn’t a risk decision, it’s a leadership decision.

Some brands are even moving in the right direction, but doing for the wrong reasons. Like Seth Godin said:

“It has nothing to do with the Internet. It has everything to do with people”

The problem companies are having is part paranoia, part fear, and part risk on the side of large brands, and just as much, it’s a problem of big brands being resistant to change and unable to lead. These are all very high level issues, and there’s a lot more involved, but fundamentally… these issues must be dealt with. Meanwhile, the leaders are being rewarded, the leaders and growing their fan base, growing their brand. They are tied in and taking advantage of their position to be more innovative.

What perspective would I take? Look at the news tools as new opportunities to connect with customers, not as new risks for brands.

Because people opportunities will always be brand risks. And the companies that avoid either one will disappear.

Customers are at your step, knocking at your door. You can hear the knock. You don’t need to ask yourself if you have the tools or the ability. The only thing you have to ask yourself is will you choose to answer?

This post is part of the #CluetrainPlus10 project, where 99 bloggers all write a post in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Cluetain Manifesto. View the entire list of entries.

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