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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ostrich Effect

In my last blog posting I spoke of people, in general, having a fear of social media.  The question is why?

The answer could be as simple as “it is human nature”, but that would be letting me, and you, off the hook way too easily!  We need to dig a little deeper.   For this posting, let’s look at the issue from the perspective of an organization or institution.

Thanks to research presented earlier this year by Nancy Bain, we know that 75% of all Canadians are now on-line, that there are some 18,620,000 Canadians on Facebook and that the time that we spend on Twitter is up 3700%.

These numbers can be daunting for businesses or institutions.  These numbers are significant and it means that decisions makers have to take a hard look at actions that will involve the use of new communications’ tools, new technology and very open and public discussions.  This is a frightening thought for many. 

The questions that immediately come to mind are:  how will we learn to use these tools effectively?  Who will train us?  Do we need training?  What are the full ramifications if we choose to not use these tools and resources?  What are the ramifications if we do?  Do we need new policies?  Do we need to staff 24/7?  And most importantly, what if something unsavoury is said about my organization?  What can I do?  This last question is probably really what would keep managers awake at night.  Earlier this year Eisner Amper conducted a survey of Boards of Directors asking them what they felt was the biggest threat to their respective organizations.  The result was a clear and decisive statement – reputational risk! 

So, we know that reputational risk is a huge concern.  That being said, why exactly would so many decision makers choose to not engage in social media?  The reason – is what I like to call the Ostrich Effect!  If one chooses to bury his head in the sand and therefore cannot hear what is being said on social media, it doesn’t exist, right?  Wrong!

The fact is that there are many communications professionals that can assist organizations and institutions navigate the social media waters and prepare a social media strategy that meets your specific organizational needs.  We are just a click away!  What are you waiting for?  Organizations and institutions need to be proactive.  Waiting for a crisis to emerge is not the answer. 

In my next posting, I will look at crisis communications and how social media can work to your advantage.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Social Media and Trust

(Note this is slightly modified post that was originally posted last fall)

Last fall I presented Social Media in the Workplace at the Atlantic Schools of Business Conference in PEI.  As I have reflected on the experience, I can say without a doubt that it was interesting to present to this group.  On the one hand you had Professors who are teaching our future leaders.  On the other hand you have institutions that are looking for new and innovative ways to provide the service/education that is needed not for today, but for five to ten years from now!

The conversations around social media were absolutely intriguing and down right fascinating to me.  There were some who really embraced the use of social media and how it can not only set their schools apart, but also how it will set the students apart when they are looking for their entrance into the working world.

For others, it was very much like what we would hear in the business environment.  Essentially it comes down to fear - fear of the unknown, fear of the loss of control - fear.  Just plain and simple fear.

Fear is not easy to eliminate or to undo.  It takes time.  It takes information and it takes guts.

Whether you look at the studies by BlessingWhite or even Edleman's Trust Barometer, there are some common themes there.  This doesn't take away from the fear that people feel.  Rather it is no doubt the opposite.  It reaffirms what most people feel.  It justifies that others have the same fear.  Embracing social media is not as difficult as some might think. It can be done, but it takes a champion.

(Looking for more information on trust?  Feel free to check out my posts from both the employer and employee perspective

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Understanding the Art of the Social Media Conversation

There has been some interesting commentary recently about social media and official languages.  I say interesting because I am hoping that people don't move away from what social media is - a conversation between two or more people.

When you boil it down, it really is all about people having a dialogue and sharing information. Think about how you interact and converse with people in your daily activities.  When someone asks you a question, you don't respond in multiple languages - of course not.  You answer the person in the language that the question was asked, even if you do speak more than one language.

Social media should not complicate conversations.  It is actually just the opposite. As with any conversation, stop and listen.  Only when you have listened can you really have a meaningful dialogue.