As far as I know, managed services providers (MSPs) aren't in the business of creating illusions, but maybe they should be going forward. Nemo, the powerful blizzard that slammed into New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the broader New England region, threw Long Island municipalities a curveball. As of today, parts of the Long Island Expressway (LIE), one of the major roads on the island, is still closed for plowing, side streets are covered with snow, and plows are nowhere to be seen. Some municipalities, however, used social media and other Web-based methods to comfort the public, while they (poorly) assessed the situation at hand. MSPs can apply these same techniques during unusual circumstances.

Social media is not only a tool to promote your business, but a way to connect with your clients on another level, providing them reassurance during times of need, which is where the illusion comes in. During the blizzard, municipalities reached out to residents via social media, asking for the names of streets in need of plowing. In return, residents responded with the names of streets, hoping that their street would be selected next. Did you catch the illusion?

Now, I'm not a meteorologist, but I think it's safe to say that snow doesn't select certain streets over others. Local municipalities created an illusion to comfort residents, while they plowed the streets in the meantime (or attempted to). By doing this, municipalities communicated with residents, connecting with them. In reality, these municipalities more than likely didn't do anything with the responses from residents; they knew that every street needed plowing.

But municipalities reached out a hand in an attempt to ease concerns. MSPs should use social media in the same way for clients. Communicate with clients and learn their needs. Do not look at a social media as only a  marketing tool; view it as a useful customer relationship management (CRM) tool, as well. Create illusions through your social media channels to avoid the initial attack, but also understand that you can't hide from complaints for long. Illusions will only buy you time.