For the last few weeks, I have been working with some people helping them develop a better understanding of social media.
Like many in management, consultancy and communication fields, I have been working on my own understanding for some time as this is a developing and changing field.
Let’s start by saying Twitter is one of the best research, professional development and innovation tools I have ever used. The access to some of the best minds and great information is truly remarkable and well worth the investment of some time.
But there’s more to social media, as it brings to public light the conversations that used to take place out of hearing, on the grapevine and along gossip chains. It is important to realise that this is a fundamental change in media.
Social media is not traditional media, even if traditional media continues to abandon its own standards and unique selling proposition to become more like social media. If this trend in traditional media continues, there will be more trouble ahead for an industry that has been in decline for many years. Hopefully there are enough smart people out there to realise that social media is substituting for traditional media and that the answer is to re-create the values of your operations in the new environment. The signs are this is beginning to happen.
In the meantime, social media is creating opportunities and havoc for some organisations. Jen Frahm from Jennifer Frahm Collaborations has a great example on her blog site of how social media can produce good and bad results, this one in the context of a major investment in a wedding that was going wrong, in #WhitsundayWedding – a Twitterific Tale.
Simply, the rules of reputation management have changed completely:
- Everyone is a potential news outlet, which exacerbates the number and variety of threats to any individual, interest or organisation
- Social media users are often creators, not just consumers, of peer news content
- Content is still king (or queen); if it’s good or rude enough — preferably sleazily grainy enough — it’ll get a following on YouTube and then picked up by traditional media
- Ethics, integrity and verifiable facts have long gone out the window — scuttlebutt rules!
For a long time, old-style command and control of communication from and within organisations has been changing as the results didn’t match expectations. This movement is accelerating because of social media and risk management has to change as a result.
The Australian Football League, in censuring some players this week, said that social media and traditional media comments will be treated the same. This is a recipe for long-term reputation damage.
The reality of social media is that the previous constraints on an organisation’s communication framework are being removed without the organisation having any control of the process. Review your approach and seek out better ways of protecting your reputation.