Have you watched the movie Talladega Nights, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly? If not, I have to say I can understand the decision. I love it, but goodness is it stupid! Anyway, there is one particular scene that I was thinking about. John C. Reilly’s character has come up with an awesome idea and tells Will’s character (Ricky Bobby)about it. Ricky’s first response is, “Man, that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” When asked if he REALLY thinks that, Ricky says, “No, I admit it, that’s the awesomest…how did you come up with that?”
In the online world, we often find out that people in our community have come up with awesome ideas, and it’s possible that on occasion, that little green monster called jealousy might creep into the picture. When that happens, though, you don’t want to slip up like Ricky Bobby does. Few things can tear up engagement more than a spot of jealousy. Few things can make you look more defensive.
So how can you react online when someone (or another company) announces a great idea? Now, if you’re part of a big corporate online effort, this is something that will need to be discussed corporately, of course. But let’s say it’s you and another blogger, or you and another consultant. How can you handle someone else’s great idea?
Here are some possibilities.
1. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Your community is probably not going to know the entire history you have with the idea-sharer. Therefore, if you say something mean-spirited about their idea, it will only make you look bad and draw more attention to them. If you can’t think of a better way, just stay silent on the issue.
2. Take time to analyze. Sometimes, an idea that at first seems competitive actually ends up being something that is just running in parallel with what you’re doing. Evaluate what the person is saying carefully. If it isn’t going to impact you or your business, there’s no harm in offering congratulations, either publicly or privately.
3. Discuss ways to improve the idea. This one would not be recommended for a highly competitive situation, but one good way to associate yourself with a great idea while also showcasing your own expertise is to offer advice or valuable contributions to the concept. If you see a weak spot in the armor, let the person know. If done with civility, this can be done in public. If you are worried the person would perceive it as an attack, do so privately.
4. Promote the idea. Again, this of course would not happen if the situation is highly competitive, but if it isn’t, and if the idea doesn’t impact you directly, go ahead and help the person promote it. This not only helps you engage with that person, but it also helps you bring valuable information to your followers. It shows your community that you are willing to support great ideas even if they aren’t yours. And hey, that person will owe you when your great idea comes!
There is no doubt that a lot of the online world revolves around competition. We’re competing for attention, we’re competing for success. However, on the occasions when you can pay kudos to someone for thinking outside the box, it’s great to do so. And if you can’t, staying silent on the subject is far less dangerous than spouting off or acting out.
What do you think?
Have you encountered situations where someone came up with a really great idea that you wished you had come up with? How did you handle that in your online reality? I’d love for you to add to the conversation!
This is post 8 in The Engagement Series. I hope you are enjoying reading these posts as much as I am enjoying writing them!
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BrumaMihai