Social Media: not for faint-hearted executives!
Social media has exploded. Without question it is now the most influential medium in institutions as divergent as politics, business, the non profit sector, security industry (and its nemeses, crime), health and religion. In North Africa governments have fallen as a result of social media.
In August 2011, they were the means by which gangs of criminally minded young people in England sped from one assembly point to the next as they indiscriminately looted shops and businesses and generally caused mayhem.
Now, entities in the various institutions mentioned above have woken up to the fact – some are still coming out of their slumbers – that the likes of Facebook and Twitter, to mention two of the best-known, are incredibly powerful communication tools. With the realisation that the chief executive or his or her trusted lackey are not the best persons to have the responsibility of using these powerful tools has come the rush to appoint people to do so. Alas! In many cases no strategic planning has preceded this thinking, and so there are often no plans in place to handle this in a manner which is productive, professional and secure.
In my experience, there are still too many instances in which one sits around a boardroom table with executive decision makers baulking at the idea of paying a decent fee or salary to get their social media proficiently handled.
“Let’s employ an intern to handle it. Or a retired person to give a couple of hours a day. Or maybe Mary at reception can deal with it in her quiet moments.” How silly these executives are in such thinking.
These cheapskate solutions offer no solution at all. What they do is to demean and devalue the power of social media and to
misunderstand its dynamic nature.
Social media has a life all of its own and, unless professionally handled, your message can become destructive and destroy your reputation with a press of a button – a press of many buttons as people re-Tweet and re-post badly constructed messages. Or worse, the person monitoring your social media is inept at recognising what is damaging and therefore fails to deal with negative comments from outside sources.
I have always argued that communication is basic to anything any organisation does. This is no less true of social media.