Top 3 TED Talks on Business and Social Media

With social media dominating the Internet, it’s a powerful tool, but since it’s something you can’t control, sometimes it seems a little too powerful to be good for business. What can you do to ensure your product or service won’t be degraded via social media, and how can you use social media to promote growth? TED Talks, speeches given at conferences twice each year by leaders in various fields, are a great source of information and ideas related to business and social media. The best TED Talks are posted on the Internet for free, and they explain big ideas in just a little time. In these three TED Talks, Tim Leberecht, Alexis Ohanian and Evan Williams talk about the positive effects of letting go of perceived control of your product, service or message. Use social media to listen to what the people want and give it to them, even if it’s not what you originally intended to give.

Tim Leberecht: 3 Ways to (Usefully) Lose Control of Your Brand

In today’s world of constant chatter via social media, how can you gain control over your brand’s image? Tim Leberecht suggests we have more control today than ever before because people were always talking about brands, but now we can listen in and even join in the conversation. Leberecht explains that this apparent loss of control actually gives us more control. He proposes giving up some control in order to control your image in other ways and shows successful examples of this method. Letting customers control price and employees control salaries and vacation days are methods that have worked to the advantage of some companies. Others have used altruism as a marketing technique to earn customers or a morale technique to improve the productivity of employees. If done right, Leberecht asserts that losses can be gains.

Alexis Ohanian: How to Make a Splash in Social Media

The voice of the people can be a powerful tool for getting your message out. Alexis Ohanian talks about how a business may have ideas of its own about how its product or service is presented, but the masses of people on the Internet could take things in their own hands. Before you know it, your message has been taken over. Perhaps you wanted to say something serious, but through the channels of social media, it has become a silly one. Ohanian gives an example of this loss of control working to the benefit of the company. He illustrates how letting go of control and handing it over to the people can get you the results you want, maybe even better results than you were hoping for.

Evan Williams on Listening to Twitter Users

When he created Twitter, his ideas for its use were limited to social interactions between family and friends, and he wasn’t sure how big this social medium would become. As it gained in popularity, rather than try to control it, to mold it to match his original ideas, Williams listened to the users. If they had good ideas about how to use Twitter, if they created Twitter jargon or Twitter-related software, he went with it and sometimes changed Twitter to match what the users were doing. Williams had an idea, but he didn’t try to retain too much control over it. He handed it over to the people to use and to shape. He listened to what they had to say and watched his idea grow. He explains the lesson he learned so that we, too, can benefit from it, “I’ve learned to follow the hunch, but never assume where it will go.”

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Tim Hart is a web designer and guest author at Top Web Design Schools, where he contributed to the collection of 10 Great TED Lectures About the Social Web.