Recently, I've had this crazy thought. It's sort of unorthodox. So of course I'm going to blog it and let the whole Internet tell me I'm dumb. Here goes:
Web 2.0 is more like a conversation than a media experience. Yes, some of these conversations will be about you. But you shouldn't try to control them. People will start saying nice things about you when you stop being an asshole.
The fact is, no company has ever been able to control the conversations that went on about them. Ever. One hundred and fifty years ago, someone was saying that Joe's Horseshoes suck and someone else was agreeing and suggesting Benjamin's Horseshoes as an alternative.
Today, companies have the ability to see these conversations take place in real time on the Internet. So they want to get involved in them. But that makes as much sense as barging into someone's living room and telling them to stop badmouthing you.
Instead, create something useful and beautiful. A better product, a better experience, a tool or widget, or even an ad. And then trust that your creativity, value, attitude and usefulness will shine through.
I'm not saying that brands should exit the social media space. I'm just saying that being engaged is nice, but being great is better.