The above quote is from Subcomandante Marcos, a leader of the revolutionary Zapatista rebel army in Mexico. It could well apply to the changes being experienced in the digital marketing areas and, in particular, in the social media. Marketers and brand curators are having great difficulty in adapting to the
new world of knowledgeable buyers who are doing their research long before the salesman gets a chance to use his persuasive skills.

Social media scares the pants off many CEO’s. What if my employees start writing inappropriate messages? Will it allow disgruntled buyers to write nasty things about our product? A few forward-looking company heads start writing a blog but soon realise that they have not enough to say to fill this column regularly and one ends up with stagnant piece written six month ago. Others, in desperation, start filling it with nonsense which ultimately damages their personal reputation.

Social media does pose threats but they can be managed. Staff need to be told clearly the company policy on social media comments to avoid embarrassing their employer or projecting a brand personality which is at odds with the one carefully engineered over the years. Consumer complaints need to be addressed by someone designated to respond appropriately. We should be welcoming negative feedback as this helps a firm improve its service levels or product design.

The CEO has to understand that he is the face of the company and the reputation of both requires him to treat social media seriously. He doesn’t have to send a Tweet about where he is having lunch or upload a photograph of his Sole Meuniére. According to Huthwaite, the well-respected management advisory company, CEO’s who appear prominently and regularly on social media sites build trust for their company and enhance their own reputation. And these should be good enough reasons for you to take this engagement opportunity seriously.

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