I remember one time in college I went out with a group of friends to this local bar where they had karaoke. This place was known for not being the safest place in town, but probably the cheapest! We hung out there for a few hours before the karaoke DJ decided to take a break. I am not sure what inspired him, but for some odd reason my buddy, Dan, decided that it was his turn to start singing despite the fact that there was no music, and he had a few too many drinks. Dan, stumbled up on stage, grabbed the mic, and immediately started singing what sounded like an Irish fight song or maybe a cat in heat.
Of course, we were the only ones in the bar that got a kick out of this, everyone else just wanted him to shut up. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when I saw probably the biggest bouncer in the joint walking over to the stage. I thought, “I wonder if I should pay my tab before we get kicked out.” But, instead the bouncer reached over to the sound board and simply turned Dan’s mic off. A few folks started clapping when they couldn’t hear Dan anymore, and Dan assumed the applause was for him because well he didn’t know his mic was cut, and just kept happily singing his heart out.
Oddly enough I see this scenario play out all the time in social media, and unfortunately the public doesn’t respond as well as Dan. Social media sites routinely censor their users. Don’t believe me? It’s true. In fact, almost every popular social media site uses some form of censoring when they need to. To be honest with you, I think that’s a good thing.
Back in May it was uncovered that Zappos has been editing user reviews for spelling and grammar mistakes. What was the response? Utter outrage. Apparently, users don’t take take to it kindly when companies edit their content, even when they are trying to fix apparent errors. Which isn’t really surprising, I mean it isn’t uncommon to see social media user’s get upset over content abuse. And this is where we find the biggest lie in social media…..
The biggest lie in social media is that users are in control.
Yep that’s right, it’s a lie. You see the truth is that all of these social sites own the content you create for them. After you hit send, submit, or OK, you relinquish control of your ideas and words to corporations that have a bottom line. It even goes further than the content you create and even into the relationships that these sites help foster.
As marketers and entrepreneurs we need to be mindful of where we grow our content assets. Is it really smart to put your whole portfolio on Flickr? Or maybe you shouldn’t be building your outreach center through tumblr. Are you backing up your relationships and making them mobile? Do you have a plan in place to recover content? These are all things that we need to continue to be mindful of in order to secure whats rightfully ours and remind ourselves that we are just singing in some one else’s bar.