After the break:
Question: What does it take for a company to be ready for social media?
Neville Hobson: Culture. An understanding of the value of conversational communications. You have to be prepared to give up control of your message. An organization that doesn’t encourage people to talk freely about what’s going on in the organization, that requires log-ins for all types of information, is not ready for social media. If the organization is not ready for social media, its use could cause “all kinds of disruptions.”
Alan Jenkins: Even if a company is not ready for blogging, you should nevertheless pay attention and monitor what people are saying and understand why people are saying what they are saying about you. An example of a company that is blogging, but not doing it well, is Arla Foods in Europe. Their PR staff blog. However, senior executives do not. Consequently, the content of the blogs is restricted to commentary about previously reported information. The blogs are stale and uninteresting.
Question: What about portals?
Shel Hobson pointed to Pageflakes, which makes him wonder “why would people pay big money for SAP portals when they can have this for nothing?”
Question: Once you know something is going on? What do you do about it? Can you control it?
Alan Jenkins: “Once your message is out and people are starting to repeat it and manipulate it, you’ve lost control of it. … But then, you’ve never really had control of messages. The nice thing about social media is now you can be part of the conversation about this, and before you couldn’t be.”
Shel Holtz: One of the things that blogs allow is for your people to talk, not just the company. Companies have a hard time admitting mistakes. Individual people will do this more readily. And in doing so, they are humanized and more likely to benefit from good will.
“Influence is wielded through engagement and participation in the conversation. There is no opportunity to control.”
Question: As a corporation or government, would you let the CEO loose with his fingers on the keyboard? What is the role of the communications professional.
Alan Jenkins: The CEO should write for himself. That will bring authenticity. There are many examples of senior executives who do this quite well.
Shel Holtz: The two qualifications for writing a blog are passion and authority.
Alan Jenkins: If your CEO doesn’t want to write, do a podcast. Put a mic in front of them. Ask them questions.