As a dual American-Israeli citizen, and someone who works very closely in the social media and technology space, I wanted to discuss the fact that Israel is now the first country to start updating the public through Twitter updates. (For those not familiar with Twitter, please read here)
On December 30th, Israel held a full press conference using the tool under the name @IsraelConsulate. As with the concept of web 2.0 in general, opening up your brand to the mass public is seen as an extremely risky proposition for many.
When we launched Bazaarvoice, big brands were terrified of opening up the lines of communication with customers. What if customers bashed our products? What if customers didn’t like us? These were the questions we heard on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, the brands who opened up to customers won. Besides the fact that brands that opened up ended up seeing higher sales as a result, they were also able to listen, process, and respond to the conversations that were already taking place on the web.
This is certainly the case for any Government out there. Every Government gets talked about, and no Government is perfect. The Israeli Government is no exception as their actions have been one of the most scrutinized in modern history. I think it is a brave step for Israel and one that will continue to pay off.
Instead of ignoring the conversations that are happening, Israel now has the ability to listen and react to the opinion of the world. Sure they will encounter differing opinions and potentially hateful remarks, but the truth is that these conversations were already happening. Social media gives them the tool to recognize what is being said and by whom.
I certainly expect others to follow in Israel’s steps, and while I’m not always proud of Israel’s policies, I’m very proud of them opening up their brand.