Social Media Makes Us Accountable

Originally posted in June 2013 by Social Media Contractors

I’m going to take a moment and share something with you: I’m in my mid 40s, and more so now than ever I’m determined to get in shape. In my quest to become more fit, a friend recommended that I use Map My Ride. And while I only started using it to keep track of my own progress, the one day I half-accidentally hit the “Post to Facebook” button, I immediately felt more accountable.

After seeing my ride information shared on Facebook, and slowly getting more likes and comments, I swear that my legs started to hurt less and I had more motivation to go out and ride more. Before, I could’ve failed at my goal and no one would’ve known a thing, but now, if I stop or drop off, everyone on Facebook is going to know. Facebook is making me accountable for reaching my goals.

And in very much the same way, social media is starting to make businesses truly accountable for living up to expectations.

Increasing awareness

Social media does a lot of things really well. It:

The last one is the most important. Going along with my cycling analogy, posting on Facebook may instill some emotion in my friends, and it may also make people interact with me more, but more than either of those two, it will let a large number of people know what my fitness goals are.

It’s the same way for a company. We all know what a company like Microsoft’s goals are, and with the dawn of social media, we’re now aware more than ever when it makes a mistake. This increased awareness is good for consumers, but bad for your business if you don’t harness its power.

There’s no hiding anymore

Now that I’ve posted about my fitness on Facebook once, I can’t hide if I make a mistake. And now that the entire world is using social media, the days of corporate coverups are long gone (well, mostly).

If you’re not living up to your expectations as a business, everybody is going to know. Everybody is going to know if you’ve priced your new console too high, or if you’ve given up on your marathon goals, or if your baggage attendants broke some guy’s guitar. Social media now means holding yourself to a higher standard, because if you mess up, everyone is going to know exactly how you went wrong. There’s no hiding anymore.

Pushing back

While as I mentioned, social media can be good for consumers (consumers like transparency, especially when they’re dealing with businesses directly), it can put your company in a tough spot. So what can you do to get around that? You have to realize two things:

  • Not embracing social media is not an option. If you don’t use social media, you’re going to fall behind, and you’ll be open to being badmouthed behind your back. Get on board now so you don’t have to play catch-up later.
  • You have to use this accountability to your advantage. Sure, you’re infinitely more visible now than you ever were before. But does that mean that you should try to be invisible? Absolutely not. It means that you should do everything you can to let everyone know that you hold yourself accountable, and that you kick ass.

So really, pushing back isn’t an option. Instead, you need to learn to live with it. While you could certainly wake up one day and decide that you don’t want to be in shape anymore (and then stop posting Map My Rides), you have to know the consequences of doing so. And many times, the consequences are huge.

Social media these days really does mean being accountable and holding yourself and your business to a higher standard. This is good in a lot of ways, but it also means that it’s easier than ever to fall behind. If you’re mediocre, everyone is going to know it.

Just make sure not to get too caught up in showing off. Because once you do, you’ll never lower the bar again.