Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What The Godfather Can Teach You About Social Media

In the movie The Godfather, there's a scene where the Corleone family is arguing over how to best avenge the assassination attempt on their Father, Don Vito Corleone. The hotheaded Underboss of the family, Sonny, argues for violent, widespread retribution. His brother and Consigliere, Tom Hagen (Sonny found him on the street when they were kids, the family took him in, and he's been with them ever since. He's not Sicilian, but he's a good lawyer. He's not a wartime Consigliere, but...) urges a more peaceful approach, pointing out that "This is business, not personal!"

If you're blogging, and/or using Facebook and Twitter to promote your business, you should always remember those words, "This is business, not personal," before you post anything that reflects on you or company. Though blogging is an excellent way to increase visits to your website and to enhance interest in your business, and social media is a wonderful opportunity to engage customers, using business accounts to air your personal, political, or religious views, your dirty laundry, or even your rooting interest in a particular team, is a surefire way to poison your marketing efforts.

I've talked about creating your own bad PR previously, but was reminded of it again when I saw this Facebook update from the music hall owner I referenced in that post, who uses his Facebook account for both business and personal purposes:

Boom! Twenty words and one hotlink was all it took to alienate or tick off at least half his audience. (Also, I shouldn't have to say it, but it's probably not good form to tell your audience/customers to "shut up!") Given the current Red State/Blue State political climate in the US, it was no surprise that this reponse came quickly from a friend:

As so often happens, the political debate/argument raged in the comments section with typical "my side is right, your side is wrong" vitriol. Regardless of who's right or wrong, the person who made the comment above also made the most correct statement of all, at least as it applies to my point:

He's right and, as this example shows, it's just plain bad business to use your business forum, be it blog, Twitter, Facebook, or email newsletter to express your personal thoughts. Your views or beliefs as they apply to your business or industry are perfectly fine but, remember, your customers have their own thoughts and opinions and, in this day and age, they may differ widely from your own. Hence, it's a lot easier to tick someone off and, hence, lose customers.

Fortunately, if you are compelled to share your personal thoughts or dirty laundry on the web, there's an easy fix. Just set up a personal account in whatever medium you choose and air your thoughts, rants, grievances, bad experiences, and/or chili recipes there, with people who know and understand you. Then, keep your business thoughts in the business account where your customers and potential customers can grow to view you as a trusted, reliable information source. Save your personal views for your personal forum populated by friends and family.

Don Corleone said it best when he told Sonny, "Never tell anyone outside the Family what you're thinking." And if you want to keep your business from sleeping with the fishes, then keep your personal views to your family of friends and aquantainces and make sure any and every statement you make that reflects on your company is strictly business, not personal!

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