Which Risk is Greater: Joining the Conversation, or not Joining?

I pitched a client today that will remain nameless. Very big company, that spends a lot of money on advertising. The client is not really in the social media space at all yet, depsite many of its' competitors joining the conversation.

Feedback I got today was that while they wanted to utilize social media and talk to their customers, it is very risky- what if people say bad things? Are we encourgaing bad things to be said by joining the conversation on Facebook or Twitter or Fill-in-the-Blank-Social-Network?

There are 2 problems with this thinking. First, social media is not just about talking. It's about listening. Moreover, joining the conversation does not increase risk. If anything, it mitigates risk - because poeple are less likely to be angry about you if they know you're listening. I told the client this today- but I think this is easier said they done for many companies.

Still, no matter what company or organization you work for, at this point, PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU. Is it riskier to join the conversation, listen, respond, and encourage more talking...or to hide in the corner and hope people stop talking about you?


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