Can Social Media Really Destroy a Company?
At the beginning of the year, I made a bold prediction that some major company would either destroy their image or completely go under because of social media. It looks like I’m not too far off the mark.
The fact is, the numbers don’t lie. There are more people on Facebook worldwide than the entire population of the United States. In the U.S. one in three people have a Facebook account. Those numbers simply can’t be ignored.
The president of CNN feels the same way and he’s scared to death. Jonathan Klein stated at a recent conference, “The competition I’m really afraid of are social networking sites. That’s an alternative that threatens to pull people away from us.” Mr. Klein, it already has. I first heard of Michael Jackson’s death from a message board I frequent. They linked to a TMZ story. While CNN was still awaiting confirmation and stating Jackson was in a coma, TMZ claimed he was dead. It took several hours before CNN caught up with the “real” story.
Some people may question the journalistic integrity of a company like TMZ and others may question whether a rush to print for the sake of eyeballs is really in everybody’s best interest. The fact is, the nature of journalism has changed. I’ll be the first to admit we’re walking a fine line between accuracy and timeliness, but the fact remains, TMZ got the story right.
Personally, I can name off a number of newsworthy events I first heard of through social media. Patrick Swayze’s death along with the Haiti earthquake all hit my social media radar before I read the news. I don’t even read the news much any more unless some contact of mine gives me a reason to.
So what does this relate to a company going out of business? My thesis is social media has the power to completely take out a clueless company…no matter how big. Mr. Klein gives a lot of authority to social media as well. The article concludes –
On a broader scale, Klein seems to be saying that social networks’ users can easily – even unwittingly – make or break major corporations.
It could go either way. I think we’ll see amazing examples of both…this year. Happy March!
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