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Social Media, Trolling, and Why You Should be Controversial

We try to craft posts that are well thought out and don't always sound like we're trying to sell something

Orchestra invests heavily is social media marketing. We invest in projecting our image online via forums, Twitter, LinkedIn, and various other social media sites. We try to craft posts that are well thought out and don't always sound like we're trying to sell something.

We try to craft posts that are well thought out and don't always sound like we're trying to sell something. We also don't write by committee here, so our individual personalities are visible and even controversial. This is good, and here is why.

Personally, I love controversy. I like passionate conversations about topics that are often somewhat uncomfortable or represent a valid conflict. In short, I love to troll. Heated discussions, passionate discourse, and outright argument are often the best ways to become informed about an issue. Discourse allows for the free flow of ideas, and encourages people to comment and share the information that they may have on a subject. Because of this, people become better informed about issues and more engaged and invested in a product or idea.

Recently, we've had plenty of people to talk with, lots of discussions flying around, and people posting interesting articles. However, when we started our big social media push back at the beginning of the year, it was like shouting at a wall - or, in my case, trying to start a fight in an empty room. We've watched a veritable explosion of discussion and information on LinkedIn related to SAP. Twitter has gone from just a few partners to dozens in just a few months. Most significantly, our daily site traffic has literally quintupled. Let me state that again - because of the discussions that we've started online we have five times more people visiting our site on a daily basis.

Many of our site visitors post comments there, watch videos on our YouTube channel, respond to our Twitter feeds, and post replies to our discussions. We don't moderate what people say on our site or in our threads so that people have a chance to speak their mind and really challenge us on our ideas. We want to know the weaknesses in our arguments, strengthen our product offering, and discuss our new ideas with the greater community. There is very little that Orchestra doesn't share about what we're doing, who we're working with, and how we do it.

This is the antithesis of the old "command and control" school of thought with regard to information security. Many would argue that information about the products you sell and your organization should be regulated and controlled, and few would think to allow the community at large to post anonymously on their web site. The problem with this way of thinking is that the Internet enables people to have a place to publicly express themselves regardless of running through the filters and around the barriers that company puts up. Typically, people are more willing to post negatively in a public form than they are positively. Because of that, it's best to be proactive.

Provide people that want to post positive comments about you a venue to do that, and actively combat the negative comments without worrying about sharing sensitive information. I also encourage being actively critical of others in your industry and of yourself. It's important to highlight your success and the success of your partners, and be open and honest about your faults and failures (it's also helpful to show what you've learned and why it won't happen again). Doing this provides a firm with a personality and humanizes the people within it. People, especially small business people, want to do business with those that they know and trust - and what better way to build trust than representing yourself honestly as a person?

Many other firms are doing this. While walking near the office in downtown Portland yesterday, I happened to see a MAX train (Portland's light rail system). The side of it was covered in an advertisement for Webtrends that said "Should cyclists pay a road tax?" The responses on their site speak for themselves. This advertisement isn't just shocking - it promotes a conversation about a topic that is poignant and important to people in this community. However, it ultimately raises awareness of Webtrends while not directly trying to sell anyone their products.

Sharing information increases awareness, strengthens your products, and sharpens your competitive edge. Being controversial is the stone that you can use to hone that edge. People aren't interested in the same tired corporate-speak that firms have been turning out year after year, they want discourse that is interesting, engaging, and edgy.

Have something interesting or controversial to say? Comment and let us know!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Brad Windecker

As the President and CEO of Orchestra Software, I lead a talented team of bright people with the unified mission of helping growing industries run better. Orchestra builds industry vertical ERP software that is highly specific to the needs of the industries we serve. This strategy has enabled Orchestra to double or triple in size and revenue every year.

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