Acknowledging the Noisy 10 Percent

July 2, 2015

In an age of brand journalism, do-it-yourself publishing and social media, brands have acquired audiences on the consumer spectrum including the loyalists and the haters. Make no mistake: They are both important to any company’s future.

While the natural inclination is to cater to fans and ignore the noisy 10 percent who are unlikely to become fans, there are insights to be gained from listening and, when necessary, engaging the adversary.

  • First, pay close attention to what an opponent desires – both directly and within the industry. Agitators and activists aren’t the audiences leaders look to engage, but they can give leaders vital cues regarding attitudes to business practices before they become larger issues.
  • Realize that corporate social responsibility or CSR plans aren’t the feel-good initiatives they were once mistaken for. Not only are they necessary, they needto be baked into the values and daily operations of today’s businesses, measured for effectiveness, and reported to stakeholders.
  • Organizations that operate within the letter of the law but outside the lines of consumer expectation and sentiment put themselves at risk. A compliant company doesn’t mean it also is a conscientious one.

A vocal minority may not change the way a company conducts its business. But savvy leaders need to carefully consider what’s being said and shared from fans and foes alike, especially now that the playing field is level and megaphones are the same size.

Today, the idea of keeping friends close, and enemies closer, is more than a quotable scene from a legendary film. It’s a reality for today’s socially conscious businesses.