Monday, 7 December 2009

Blogs, break-ups, and dead sharks

It’s over. I have broken up with one of my favourite blogs.

The reasons, for this post, aren’t important. One element, though, had to do with what I (and apparently many other of the blog readers) perceived as a scolding by the blog editors regarding what they felt were off-topic responses to their posts. It could probably be boiled down to a classic case of both sides talking but neither side listening—and who hasn’t had a relationship that suffered to some degree from that?

The upshot is, whereas I used to be a big fan of the women’s-oriented blog Jezebel—visiting it several times a day, posting periodically, recommending it in articles, linking to it via this blog—a few days ago I decided to end our relationship. Okay, I did visit it once or twice during the weekend, but I didn’t click through any of the posts; it was more in the way of phoning an ex-boyfriend just to hear him pick up the phone, then hanging up when he says hello. (Come on, I’m not the only one who’s done that... am I?)

If I’m discussing my relationship with Jezebel in the same terms as one might a personal relationship, that’s because in some ways it felt like a personal relationship to me. Indeed, that’s one of the virtues of blogs and other forms of social media—and one of the dangers.

When venturing into social networking, it’s easy to focus on the upsides: creating and reaffirming customer loyalty, strengthening the bonds between consumers and brand, the potential for word-of-mouth marketing. But bear the potential pitfalls in mind as well. I emailed Jezebel with my concerns prior to breaking up with the blog, and in its defence one of the editors promptly emailed me back. But for every consumer you disappoint who makes you aware of his chagrin, there are sure to be others who simply drop you—or worse, drop you and then proceed to complain about you in his own blog posts or other conversations.

So remember that the opportunity for greater rewards usually comes with greater risks, that you need to listen as well as speak, and that you should never become complacent with your relationships with customers, any more than you should with your significant other. Which brings to mind a quote from Annie Hall: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark… It has to constantly move forward, or it dies. And I think what we got here on our hands is a dead shark.”--SC

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