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I woke up this morning to see my 13 year old, Gwenna, coming down the hall. Her right hand was suspiciously stretched a distance away from her body while her left hand being yanked roughly by her black lab, Luna. I continued sleepily on my path down the hall to wake Joe, my son, and *Squish!* Yep, right between my toes. NOW I know why Luna was pulling Gwenna down the hall!

As I scream in disgust I look down and see the evidence trailing in the form of paw prints from the bedroom all the way to the front door. The offensive smell hits my nose. "Gwenna, you're cleaning this up! This is your responsibility!" I'm wondering, as I say this, if she will be ABLE to do it... did I mention I've got a tan carpeted hallway?

I'm furiously cleaning my foot. "HOW did you let this happen?"

She's remorseful and running around like a maniac looking for cleaner and paper towels, "I took a shower and left her in her kennel. Luna had an accident Mom, it's my fault. I thought I could get a shower first, I'm sorry!"

Here come my other children, Tory (15) and Joe (12) wanting bathroom access... "Eww, Gross! What's that SMELL! Mom, this is nasty!" And the CHAOS ensues.

How does this %$#@ relate to social media?

Daria Steigman recently posted an article on her blog discussing self-censorship, "I've also seen the crowd turn on lots of less-known people for real or perceived differences of opinion." Her post got me thinking about responsibility. Any time we post something online, via Twitter, a blog, or even email, we should take responsibility.

The demand for brands to participate in social media is discussed frequently. Social media users expect it to gain momentum this year. Chris Brogan said it perfectly, "Businesses are trying to do exactly what we asked them to do. They're trying to master our languages. They're trying to talk to us where we are. They're looking for new ways to talk and to advertise." I'm paraphrasing, but he goes on to state that marketing and advertising are a part of the social web, you don't have to like it, but ignoring the fact businesses are trying every day to figure out their place in social media is dangerous.

I recently read on a statement by Alan Wolk regarding brands behaving badly in social media, "We're going to see a whole lot of chaos before we see some order restored..."

Sometimes the chaos is limited to a select few offended parties that lash out, like in the case of Chris Brogan's K-Mart post . Other times, like in the case of Motrin, the unforgiving, mob-like twitter users attack and bring fear and intimidation to the entire Twitter community.

Honestly, if I were a large brand, I would question if the time were right to be entering social media. The fear is justified; even regular users of Twitter feel the need to self-censor. No one wants to be the next Motrin.

Conclusion: sometimes you're gonna step in it...

Gwenna tried and end the end did the best she could, but it looks like steam cleaning will be my weekend chore. I am, however, very proud of her efforts and her ability to take responsibility.

Big brands are seeking ways to enter the Social Media realm without offending anyone. Unfortunately, someone will always be offended. My humble suggestion to big brands is simply this: Someone has to do it! Take a chance and join us in the conversation. Do your research first and don't be afraid of the chaos! Take responsibility when you make a mistake and clean up the mess.

Amber Naslund's blog post on the Sanctity of Social Media sums this up for me: open up your brand to an open-ended conversation and reach new audiences.

Readers, your thoughts?

  • What are your thoughts about brands in social media?
  • What advice would you give to brands?
  • Are you a brand seeking entry into social media?
  • How has the Motrin fiasco affected your decision?

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