In yesterday's BizReport: Social Marketing Kristina Knight reported on Citi's reluctance to engage in social media marketing, under the title Do social networks hurt brand image? She described as a "downside" of social media that "marketers have basically no control over what will be said about their brand by social networkers."
That seems to be the worry behind Citi's cautious approach. Knight quoted from a Media Daily News article by David Goetzl, in which he quotes in turn Lisa Caputo, Citi's CMO, as expressing concern "that allowing consumers access to Citi logos and other materials related to its brand for their own creations could backfire: 'I am very loath to put it at risk and let some individual do what they want with it.' "
Does she really think that if Citi doesn't engage in the conversations going on about it that the conversations will stop?
Both articles cited the example of Chevy's experience with enabling users to build ads about its Tahoe SUV, which generated some negative ads focusing on the environmental impact of SUVs. The implication is that such consumer responses are a terrible thing.
If potential customers feel passionately enough about what they perceive as a problem with your product or service to build an advertisement for you, shouldn't you welcome that? Learn from it? Adjust accordingly?
If they're not telling or showing you how they feel, do you think they're not telling anyone?
As I explained in my post about expanding the Forrester blogging ROI matrix, blogs and social media are especially valuable business tools precisely because they are so efficient in uncovering your customers' reactions to your brand, positive and negative, while you still have the opportunity to do something about it.