Mike Moran points out a great social media case study. The thing to note is that most companies – Toyota included, in this case – miss the point of social media’s “dangers.” The problem isn’t that customers can say anything. It’s that customers can see everything. Toyota has no issue being green, so long as that green is opaque. It’s transparent green that it’s having problems with. The company’s response is that of an opaque company mindset, while its customers live in an increasingly transparent world. Even in today’s world, most customers are going to point out your flaws to a very small number of their friends. And a very small number of your customers are going to try to point out those flaws to a large number of potential customers. But, it’s very easy for that large number to find that small number, far easier than it’s ever been. Many business books point out the merits of running your business as though its dirty laundry could end up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The reality of social media is that it doesn’t have to. So long as it’s out there, somewhere, your customers – current or potential – can find it. Are you ready to run a truly transparent business? You should be. Because no one’s going to give you a choice.