Why SOPA fails at customer experience management

January 18, 2012

Certain social issues polarize companies. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has caused an online blackout of several protesting websites, self-censoring their logos, homepages, and offerings. Is it an effective stance for companies to take on the issue? Yes.

Is it a solution to the problems SOPA has raised? No.

These digitally visceral reactions to what SOPA is potentially capable of shows that there’s too much of a communications disconnect. SOPA’s positioning of working to discourage online piracy is perfectly valid. Their lack of communicating how legitimate businesses and websites will not be affected is what’s sinking several outlets of support.

If a business or brand were boycotted to this degree for a proposed action or cause, the business would reconsider their actions, research alternative methods and positioning. A smart company would not blindly ignore consumer outcry and discontent; they would address those concerns clearly and openly.

The creators of SOPA and their supporters should be willing to look at their proposed legislation objectively, addressing the various concerns being raised by online communities. It’s Marketing 101: If your primary consumers have concerns, a strategic response and communications plan is necessary to alleviate discontent.

The sides are still being drawn and I know where I personally and professionally stand on the issue: It’s a valid concept; it’s the ham-handed execution and lack of clear communications that’s causing all the ruffled feathers.

Companies, brands, and consumers in general will defend their rights and abilities, if potentially threatened. And unless SOPA clearly defines what it can and cannot do, will and will not do, there are going to be a steady supply of disgruntled Internet users and online content providers. Far from the best way of running a business or trying to get a piece of legislation approved.

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