Web 2.0 and the Social Media Wildfire

As a frequent user of social media, I recognize the potential benefits of Web 2.0. The idea that everybody has a voice seems pretty consistent with a functioning democracy and perhaps a marketing strategy that targets all potential stakeholders. But that means EVERYBODY has a voice. In this sense, there might be no easy way to safeguard against false or unchecked information spreading like wildfire.

One might argue that the American consumer, as an allegedly educated society, should be smart and resourceful enough to hear all the voices and separate the factual and logical from those who are not. Call it laziness or a complete failure of education, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Combine all the potential misinformation with the implications Web 2.0 and social media can have on a business model and the lines can get a bit fuzzy. Some employees are encouraged to promote their company’s products on social media, while others are cautioned against using social media if their accounts can be connected to their employer.

What if an internationally recognized brand became instantly vilified because a customer posted a complaint on social media? The complaint likely doesn’t need to be substantiated by a doctor or scientifically connected to the product to cause concern with other consumers. The complaint and the social media narrative might be enough to cause serious damage to the brand.

This example demonstrates that we might have some control over what we post, but we can’t have total control over what’s posted about us, our company, our brand, or how it impacts our job. Thus, we have to treat Web 2.0 and social media as a fantastic tool with dangerous potential. I don’t think there’s a way to fully maintain privacy in terms of social media or even basic technology. Thus, we have to be very mindful of what we say and how we say it.