I saw Guy Kawasaki Tweet about an article entitled Should brands ignore social media criticism?, and I had to read/respond. Overall it’s a good article and worth reading. One highlight from the post:

But what if some brands are paying too much attention to social media? Is it possible that the most vocal on Facebook and Twitter and in the blogosphere not only don’t represent the majority of consumers but might also be providing signals that go against what the majority believes?

Twitter is an interesting case in that it is still happening. With a fully developed online community this type of thing is usually self-correcting with users coming to the defense of a brand; if merited.  This happens all the time in forums.

Assuming you read the article, a couple of other things stand out in my opinion. Since Twitter is just really beginning; that is why they found the focus on the subject matter SXSW that they did. The masses are not on Twitter yet and that is why they did not know about the Skittles site (and that is why their data looks the way it does). The user base is still predominantly technophiles. These technophiles are today’s taste makers and the reason Twitter is now exploding. The timing of mediums a brand should participate in is crucial.

The other thing that is very important to remember is that good design (of any type) should be polarizing. Roughly half should love it and half should hate it. If there is any indifference about a product or service you’ve failed as a business. Johnson & Johnson/Motrin had a great opportunity to have a very public conversation with their consumers. The conversation part is the strength that LivingMarket brings.

Also, we all know we don’t own our brands anymore and if we aren’t ready to be transparent and participate in the online conversation, we should expect a limited online user base. The truth is that communities build brand depth and increase this depth in many ways. It is not comfortable for most businesses and yet this has been going on for years. Used to be the watercooler and now it is online. At the very least brands (specifically brand persona’s) can participate.