This week began with a story that can only be described as bitter tweet. A celebrity in Australia has taken to a gossip columnist on Twitter. This is not the first time that a celebrity has tweeted controversial, negative, angry or personal tweets.
The internet has given rise to a new phenomenon of airing your dirty linen in public. It began with emails. People seem so ready to say things they would not say over the phone and never say in person.
The keyboard seems to create an impersonal arm’s length distance and immediacy in one tool. So vents and rants can happen instantly and without the filters many would apply in person-to-person communication.
Twitter and Facebook have just taken these rants to a new level.
It’s always good to remember that in print we can’t see your expression or hear your tone. Why is this an issue?
Well words account for less than 10% of our communication. But online words are all we have – no tone or body language.
Social Media Issues
For Business Every day there appears to be a new call for business to not only be online but participating in social networks. Where there are benefits there are also risks. Happy customers tweeting about how great you are is a great ego boost. An unhappy customer venting with vehemence is a nightmare snowball that can create an avalanche of complaint.
For every fan page you can have an equal and opposite hate page. You don’t have the same censorship or control of your message.
What about employees? An employee tweeting about a great day in their fantastic workplace can be great employer PR. When one starts to rant online about the terrible day, or break privacy laws, hinting about famous clients, or stupid things people have said they can potentially land your business in very hot water.
Social media filters have exacerbated this in some workplaces where employees use their own technology in their breaks and consider their updates to be personal without regard to the organisation.
What would happen if we ever had to apply honestly filters to likes on Facebook pages. Take a look at many business pages or organisation fan pages. Scan the people liking and see how many appear, reappear, work there, or worse manage their marketing. Almost like the people running the page think we are too stupid to notice the artificial and contrived nature of the likes and responses.
Much of business is not prepared for what they will find or what they will do when they find it!
I remember searching information on social media in business.
I found a page on the use of social networks for small business run by a large computer firm. I clicked through to their social media presence to find several pages of customer complaint about service and response. These included statements from people who were no longer resellers because of these issues. The big problem there was nothing from or for the company even trying to address, solve, stem the tide. They only seemed to be showing evidence of the customer service their customers were complaining about.
Have a plan – know what is out there – be prepared to participate even if it’s negative or hard.
Develop a social media policy and a social media plan. Take into account the opportunities and risks. Remember their have been prosecutions from social media so you need to be prepared and apprised of the law.
Establish a point of contact. No matter what happens make sure there is a person or board who manage positive campaigns and also emergencies should any arise.
Know the law, the risks and obligations of using social media in your strategy. It will be interesting to watch whether social media risks lead to social media insurance policy clauses.