Tod Maffin and the Sting of the Webswarm

Blogging broadcaster Tod Maffin talked to a group of about 100 IABC Toronto members about the power of social media to shape and break reputations.

Webswarming is when masses of people congregate in the same place on the Internet. Swarms are led from the inside – like a swarm of bees. Corporate communications is very often out of sync with this way of thinking. Instead corporate communicators more often try to direct from the front, hoping that people will fall into formation behind them. With social media, we can position ourselves inside swarms to take advantage of many-to-many communications.

When a critical Webswarm forms around your company, you can respond with a simple five step S-W-A-R-M strategy:

  1. Sweeten the honeypot. Match your tone to the swarm. Be self-deprecating. Use humour. Be humble.
  2. Win-win.  Let them feel like they’ve “won”in some way.
  3. Advise them how you’ve changed. And do it within the first few sentences.
  4. Right wrongs: Correct inaccuracies. Don’t let errors stand in Google’s cache forever.
  5. Make friends. Email specific compatants and invite them to continue to provide suggestions, perhaps through an advisory panel.

If you want to be effective in the swarm, you must have an active and respected member within the swarm if you expect to communicate within it and learn from it.

Above all, put a human face on your postings and comments. Step out from behind corporate speak and be genuine.