Are You a Part of the Social Media Problem or Solution?

by Marcus Sheridan


No complaining allowed! ;-)

Ever seen anyone complain in the blogosphere? Yeah, bet you have. Or how about this one: Have you ever heard a business complain about something or someone within their industry? Again, I’m sure you’re answering in the affirmative. Fact is, with the advent of the information age and another new communication platform popping up every day (Excuse me Mr. Falchetto, but why have I received a notice from you to join Google + about 12 times this week??? ;-) ) on the web, the ability for folks like you and I to moan and complain all day long has never been higher.

And boy does this have its drawbacks.

Give Me Solutions, Not Complaints

I’ve got one main policy in my swimming pool company with employees:

If you have a problem, you’re not allowed to complain about it to me (or my partners) unless you have a solution as well.

Some folks may feel this is a poor approach to HR. But the fact of the matter is that people tend to complain much less when they actually have to put their brain into gear and ‘create’. Complaining is the easy part. But creation? Yeah, that’s where the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards occur.

Take for example the article 7 Bloggers That Don’t Care If You Like Them Or Not, which I published earlier this week. Up to this point, it has been one of the most successful articles I’ve ever written here on TSL, and the views/comments/etc were simply incredible.

Notwithstanding, a lady (whose name isn’t relevant to my point) tweeted it was ‘disturbing that I had only included one woman’ on my list.

Upon reading this tweet, I immediately and cordially responded to the lady, letting her know that I had invited everyone to leave the names and links of any blogger(s) in the comments section they felt deserved recognition but hadn’t received it.

Hoping to see her add some value to the conversation, I was rather disappointed she didn’t join in.

In other words, this lady wanted to be part of the problem, but not the solution.

Notwithstanding, other folks did jump in with thoughtful solutions. Leon mentioned Erika Napoletano. Griddy talked of Ashley Ambirge. And the always sharp Davina mentioned Shonali Burke, along with some other girl named Gini who I’ve never heard of. ;-)

To these men and women that offered ‘solutions’, I say good for you—that’s what this thing called the blogosphere and social media should be all about.

Problem Solving in Business

But don’t think this rule doesn’t apply to small and large businesses as well. In fact, the concept of discussing problems and offering solutions regarding one’s niche has become critical in establishing a business’ brand in this age of content marketing.

For example, after being in the fiberglass pool industry for about 7 years with my business partners, we got tired of seeing many things being done the wrong way. One such thing that really upset us was the fact that many manufacturers had warranties on their pool shells that were semantic train wrecks—full of disclaimers that would even make a lawyer blush. Being fed-up with this problem, I decided to write an article entitled ‘The Most Egregious Fiberglass Pool Warranty I’ve Ever Seen’, and it has brought quite a bit of light to what is an unfortunate subject.

In another example, when my company started building fiberglass pools in the first place, we were taught to set them on top of a sand base and backfill them with sand as well. After a few years of doing this, we realized that sand had many inherent flaws, and instead we should have been using gravel as a base and backfill. When we learned this, we wrote 2 articles that literally changed the way fiberglass pools are built across the country:

Sand vs Gravel, Which is Better in a Fiberglass Pool Installation?

Top 5 Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions

These two articles have, in the last 2 years, been read over 50,000 times alone, and an industry that previously installed 95% of its pools on sand just 5 years ago is now installing more than 50% with gravel today—thus benefiting the end user (aka the customer) for years and years to come.

For me personally, watching this change in the pool industry has been a pleasure, but it would not have happened had we simply sat back and complained to ourselves about sand. No, instead of hearing ourselves talk we experimented with different types of stone and gravel until we had found the best solution, and then talked about what we’d learned on our blog ad nauseum.

The Reality of ‘Change’

Change doesn’t come easy. And it certainly doesn’t come from folks yapping and complaining in the stands as the game is played before them. Nope, one must jump in the fray and join in.

Does this lead to criticism at times? Yes, of course it does.

Does it also mean thick skin may be required? Yep, sure thing.

But when it’s all said and done, the person or company that was willing to take this ‘risk’, and actually be a voice of truth and change within their field, will be the one on top, looking down on all those souls who were too busy complaining to actually get anything real accomplished.


Your Turn:

What are your thoughts on complaining vs offering solutions in social media? And why do so many businesses hesitate to publish and promote ‘change’ when it’s so needed in their industry? As always, whether you’ve commented 100 times or never here on TSL, I invite you to add your thoughts, and have a great weekend everyone!!!

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