Social accountability – a crowdsourced truth detector

One of the key tenets of social marketing is that you are accountable for your actions, not just social actions. Consumers now have a public recourse to voice their satisfaction, and dissatisfaction, with a company to a much larger audience than before. If you had a bad experience with a company, your angry tweet tells the world so. When you make such a claim, you are also accountable. If people feel that your claim is unjustified, they can and will jump to the defense of your target. It is this sort of accountability that makes social so powerful, acting as a crowdsourced truth detector.

David Deal, VP at Razorfish, made similar comments regarding Starbucks and it’s fans fighting back against false rumors in his recent blog post.

[When Starbucks notices a nasty rumor like the false story about its attitude toward military personnel, the company uses word-of-mouth tools like Facebook to push back — and hard.  The brand is not afraid of looking like a “corporate big brother.”  And when Starbucks fans notice Starbucks speaking up, they join in to defend the company…If your critics are using word-of-mouth unfairly to attack, it’s OK to fight back.]

A great example is something that recently happened to us. Our company’s growth was the subject of a cover article in a regional newspaper, The Delaware Business Ledger. The article was a nice story about the agency and its success. It featured a nice cover photo of the partners, which we had the fine folks at Monsters by Mail turn into good fun.

In the interactive agency world, PR, or earned media, is a key component to staying top of mind with potential clients, so we were flying high as people contacted us as a result of seeing the article.

We were forwarded a link to a ‘letter to the editor’ entitled ‘Too much of Lee Mikles’. The note proceeded to bash us and the paper for featuring us on the cover.

[You have got to be kidding me... Lee Mikles on the cover ...again! Saying the same thing again!!] & [Cut me a break, Archer and Lee Mikles are not the only Interactive Agency in town. Feature some other agency, will you!]

Pre-web, this letter to the editor might have been the last of it. But in this world of social, her letter to the editor now became the story. Comments to her article quickly revealed her employment by another nearby interactive agency, and even her engagement to the CEO of that company.

Her motives for writing the letter were quickly exposed in subsequent comments, prompting a submitted response by the CEO of that company, distancing himself from the ‘rogue employee acting on her own’.

Additionally, a number of peers in the region chimed in to defend our company and me.

[ As a partner of a Wilmington ad agency, I truly admire what Lee (and The Archer Group) has done for Wilmington and his clients. In regard to the positive exposure his agency receives, isn't that the idea? Not to mention, if you know Lee, you know his character is unquestioned. "]

Social’s accountability keeps companies honest and genuine…and in line.

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