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Avoiding Comments Encourages Criticism

This is the year of the corporate blog. The thought leaders are already out in the blogosphere, yamming it up with their clients and customers. 2009 marks the year of widespread blog adoption, as thousands of companies play catch up to those who were willing to take risks before someone else had paved the way.

But despite the widespread adoption of this most popular method of communication, lingering doubts and fears remain. What if someone has a complaint? What if they were hurt or sick because of our product? What if one of our representatives cussed them out? What if their replacement part never arrived?

These are the questions of a traditional marketing-minded person. Sorry to offend your pride, but it’s true. A person afraid of these types of user response doesn’t yet understand what it means to thrive and succeed in the 2.0 Age.

Yes, people will complain. It is a mathematical certainty that some customers will have negative experiences. People actually realize that. If a website allowed comments and all comments were constantly ONLY positive and encouraging, the site would look fake. Visitors paying attention would recognize that something seems fishy there. It would appear that the owner is removing all negative comments and offering the world a sugar-coated view of their website or company.

That’s inauthentic. And inauthentic has no place on the “Social Web”. Gen Y, the representative of the “Social Web”, don’t often want to connect with brands on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. But when they do enter the social domain of a brand, they expect authentic interaction with a REAL person. If they can’t express their frustrations without censorship, they’ll move on until they find a company that understands their need to express the truth about how they feel.

I rarely read anything published by a website that has closed commenting functionality. If they don’t want to hear from me, I don’t want to hear from them. By insisting on being a one-sided conversation, these companies have informed me that my voice is unimportant, while theirs is all important. And my response? Screw that. Find some other chump to sit silently while you brainwash them with your particularly aged and wrinkly version of marketing.

Want to be relevant? Learn to respect the people you sell to. Have a come-to-Jesus moment where you finally get that PEOPLE ACTUALLY DON’T LIKE BEING TREATED LIKE NUMBERS OR TRANSACTIONS. And your adherence to a dated model of one-sided advertising only tells us that we are dollars and cents only. And you’ve just lost on the Social Web.