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All content could be online content

I have had a realization as of late. Maybe, like many other times in my life, I am a little slow on the uptake and I am just pointing out what everyone already knows. Perhaps, though, I am having some kind of epiphany about the truth about our world of content. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Maybe it’s best that I give you the example that made me think that every last bit of business communication we take part in has the potential to be part of our online content, whether we plan it or not.

The experience I had was pretty interesting, in a mundane sort of way. You see, I switched banks recently. Pretty routine stuff really. As I started to go into the branch, I appreciated the personal service I was receiving. They really seemed to care about the people who banked there.
After a month or so, I received a little card from the bank which was addressed in someone’s handwriting. My immediate thought was that the branch manager sent me a note. Well, I was wrong. It was actually the teller that I usually work with. (Yes I actually go inside the bank and talk with people, I’m kinda weird in a relationship kinda way.)
Here it is:
Personal Touch.jpg
Now, just on a relationship scale, this scores points with me. My question, though, is did this bank ever think that a handwritten note could potentially become part of their online content? Not likely. Of course, since I blurred out the name and I am not using the bank name at all here (I’m open online, but not stupid) the impact doesn’t apply here. What it does show, though, is that anything can turn into online content in this new media world.
If your store is sloppy and disorganized, a simple picture taken from a smart phone is now part of your online content. If you are a respected business person with a stellar image, but you have a moment of poor judgment (which we all do at some time) that is “recorded,” whether with audio or video, that is now part of your online content. If someone within your organization takes it upon themselves to correspond with a former customer in a less than professional way, that letter could be scanned and is now part of your online content. You can have an employee be less than cordial to a customer and find a review shows up on Yelp that is now part of your online content.
You see, while you create different ways to communicate with customers and prospects in the offline world, those interactions are no longer in your complete control. As a result, they can now become part of your online content because someone like me decided to put it out there for you.
What are the implications for your business? They could be good if you are making sure that all of your interactions can be taken in a positive way. How likely is that, however? Not very. Unfortunately, the implications for the negative side of the ledger are considerable.
So, here is something to think about as you go about business from this point on. When you do anything in your business, what will it look like if it becomes part of your online content, whether you plan for it or not?
Next week, I’ll talk about a few ways to keep track of what happened to that content “out in the wild.”

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