One of the biggest lesson that social media is teaching companies is that they should be as open and transparent as possible to the market (their clients). It has no use to cover up screw-ups or denying like Iran tried to do. With YouTube, Twitter and Facebook out there, it’s next to impossible to stop it.
As I always say in every presentation I give: “every problem is an opportunity in disguise”. The openness and transparency of social media could be used as a way to get back in control. Why wait till the crowd has discovered your screw-up and several stories which are not all completely correct run around the world in a couple of minutes?
Why not preemptively publish the story on your corporate blog and link to it through Twitter? Yes, I know that this must sound like a nightmare for corporate PR, but think about it. The crowd has shown to be forgiven for mistakes, as long as you are open and honest about it and say a genuine “I’m sorry”.
This opportunity to be in control does not only apply to companies but also to celebrities. One of the biggest issues they have are the paparazzi that hunt them down for juicy pictures and stories. Why not publishing pictures of yourself directly on your Twitter feed or telling what stupid mistake you just made? Just announce your break-up with the full story? Yes, it is a private matter but trust met, if you wait till the vultures come, it will be so much worse. Perhaps in time, this will become the end of the gossip magazine. Why pay for a magazine when the celebrities themselves are breaking the story on their Twitter feed?

Lee Provoost is a Cloud Computing Strategist and ERP+ lead at Capgemini. You can follow his ongoing stream of thoughts on Twitter http://twitter.com/leeprovoost.