Archive for viral community

Connecting With Strangers

I’ve been haunted by the term, “stranger network,” which I came across in the transcript of a recent PRSA digital conference. Tom Smith, Founder and Director at Trendstream, a digital consulting firm based in London, was the author of the a presentation he gave called “How Did We Come to Trust Strangers?” The audio of his talk is located at http://bit.ly/x1i67. His remarks led to an “a ha” that I’d like to share. In his new perspective on the world:

1) We trust total and complete strangers
2) Strangers drive our knowledge, ideas and decisions

Just think about that a minute and examine your own recent relationships. How did you connect? Have you met them? I’m now taking a 12-week webinar course led by a woman I have never met, who was recommended by a colleague who has never met her. I’ve never met the consultant who works with me on my website/blog. Yet they both have become important people in my life. Another consultant friend works with a virtual assistant half way across the country — they were working together for 10 years and had never met. Then the VA planned a trip to New York and they finally sat down face to face. Guess what? It was a totally awkward conversation and they found they had almost nothing to say to each other outside of their virtual connection.

Who are the strangers you trust? Have you ever been let down, disappointed, betrayed?

Domino’s Pizza — a Classic Failure in Crisis Communications

This morning’s newspapers were filled with stories about two Domino’s Pizza employees videotaping a prank in which they do pretty disgusting things to a pizza they were preparing for delivery.  They put the video up on YouTube and the rest is history.  The viral community swiftly carried the story to a world-wide audience eager to spread the dirty word about Domino’s.  Too late, the company realized that the traditional response — send out a press release and hope for the best wasn’t going to work.   This is the lesson they learned.

The company has since opened an account at Twitter and the comments are beginning to turn positive.  But the damage to the company’s reputation will take a long time to heal.  And the company still isn’t using all the viral tools at its disposal — at the writing of this post, the company had nothing on its corporate website to reassure its customers nor a link to its Twitter account.  This may be a calculated decision, but they need to be in control of the message.  It is naive to think that customers and investors aren’t online getting the most up-to-date commentary on the crisis.  Shouldn’t the company’s official website be carrying the key messages the company wants to communicate?

Did Domino’s have a crisis communications plan in place for this kind of event?  As a company in the food business, didn’t they know that the potential for bad news — food contamination high among them — could turn into a reality they would need to address?

Savvy companies will stay tuned into the viral community 24/7 and be ready to respond at the speed of light — which is the speed at which news about a company circles the universe.