Sunday, February 14, 2010

Forget "Don't Be Evil" - Just Don't Be Inconsiderate

The privacy breaches of Google Buzz are setting the social media and tech worlds abuzz this week. Google has a famous motto, "Don't Be Evil," but as they get bigger and bigger, it seems like they have a harder and harder time reconciling that with their business strategy.

It seems pretty obvious that it's easier to Not Be Evil when there's only a few people involved. As soon as an organization hits some critical mass of layers and divisions, ideas on paper end up being more evil than intended, sometimes affecting people in exactly the opposite way than that which was intended.

But Google Buzz is not what today's post is about. Today's post is about your business and your Social Media policy and the lessons you can take away from Google's missteps.

Forget "Don't Be Evil" - Just Don't Be Inconsiderate

Google *intended* to do a cool thing. They *intended* to add a function to an already established tool. What they forgot was to consider the needs, wants, desires the Users had for the tool. By forgetting to be considerate, Google has blundered.

You're not the CEO of Google and your decisions probably won't affect millions but, when considering your Social Media Strategy, are you considerate of your users? Or are you attempting to mix two things together for your own convenience? For instance:

Do you require lengthy registration in order for users to make a purchase?

Market Research helps you understand your users, but when you require users to do your Market Research in order to be able to buy from you, you're placing your needs ahead of theirs, by mixing two things together. Be Considerate and offer a non-registration purchase method.

Do you implore users to follow you on Facebook and Twitter, but never interact with them there?

You're asking users to do your marketing for you, but not even giving them a basic level of interaction. Be Considerate, reward them for their help - at the very minimum by thanking them and answering their questions when they ask.

Do you make it easy to opt in, but incredibly difficult to opt out?

This should be obvious, but Google - and almost every company - misses this completely. Not every user wants your press releases, not every user wants to be part of the new tool research. Making it hard to get off the mailing list, or next to impossible to control privacy is punishing your user for not being willing to play ball on your terms.

In order to Not Be Inconsiderate, ask yourself this:

Does your strategy focus around the needs of your user, your audience and your market, or is all about you?

Put yourself in the place of your user. Would *you* want to follow you on Twitter? Would you want to fill out a survey before being able to continue? Would you want to do the things you are asking your users to do?

When you can look at your Social Media Strategy without delusion and answer, "It's not about *me*" then you've succeeded in Being Considerate.
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