Put a Magnifier to Your Digital Ant Farm

Posted: Jun 12, 2011 12:01 AM

I just recently came to appreciate the wisdom behind the clarion call to “manage my public, digital persona.”  

While everyone who has advanced beyond dial telephones has heard of Facebook, I think that most would be surprised to discover the ant farm of connectivity that is  active in social media.  Check out the array of social media sites listed and categorized at:


With hundreds of social media channels, both companies and public figures have a new reputation to maintain.  Heed this story:

United Airlines damaged band leader Dave Carroll’s quite-pricey Taylor guitar while loading baggage in Chicago.  Unsatisfied with the response to his damage claim, the passenger posted his complaint on YouTube (http://youtu.be/5YGc4zOqozo).  

The stoic corporation totally undershot the runway with mere responses to questions from a reporter after the video had “gone viral” with over two million hits.  

Of the YouTube surfers who saw Mr. Carroll’s video complaint, very few happened across United Airlines’ fumbled explanation.  The greatest effect of United’s press response was to inform an even larger audience that they had damaged a customer’s guitar.

For an example of an effective response, consider the masterful way that Dogfish Head beer handled a Twitter misstep from an employee of American Red Cross.  Intending to banter with her personal followers, Gloria Huang accidentally misrouted a tweet about her intention to down some of her favorite beer to the 270,000 followers of Red Cross. 

 Senior management issued this tweet the following day, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”  

Not only was their response clever, the media was “in-kind.”  

That is, Red Cross communicated to the same audience who received the original misspeak.  Dogfish Head was also on top of the situation because they were monitoring the channels.  

The Delaware brewer encouraged their followers to make donations to the Red Cross.  Both organizations came out ahead with increased beer sales and blood donations (not necessarily in that order).

I learned most of what I know on this topic from Qspike (http://qspike.com/), an astute company that builds and maintains online reputations for busy social executives and corporations. Like other outsourced services, Qspike provides a social network aegis so customers can focus on their primary business role.  

In addition to search bots that flag any mention of their clients, Qspike proactively promotes their customer’s online image.  To make it as convenient as possible, Qspike converts weekly 15-minute conversations with their customers into 300 to 500 word blog posts and spreads them across all the media targeted for that client.

With permission from Qspike, I am sharing their insights on managing your public, digital persona:

1.     Come up with something interesting to say that is worthy of the readers’ time & attention.  Pushing out information to your listening audience is like the writing process for an editorial columnist.

2.     Establish your voice.  This personal application of branding principles is an encouragement to stick to your knitting; i.e., wine, sports, politics.

3.     Find your channels, the appropriate social media sites where your audience lives.  Cultivate relationships there.

4.     Monitor social channels for comments about you and your products and respond.  Defend against negative remarks or riposte with humility.  Also, don’t miss the chance to leverage compliments.

Finally, practice good “netiquette” toward the Qspike mantra of “Be found, be liked, be followed, become trusted.”

It is a brave new world out there.  Happy socializing.

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