Social Media in the enterprise – best practice #5 (final episode)

Posted: December 10th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, Business, Social Media, Systematic Viewpoints | View Comments

At the company I was with 2 years ago the CEO had been holding town halls around the world. Corporate Communications had put together an intranet site to support the message, including a section that was positioned as being the CEO’s commentary.

One day I was chatting with the head of communications, and he asked me if I’d read the latest installment. Of course I had, personally I always found this section to be too scripted. I said that I thought it would help employees establish a sense of connection with the CEO if he were to keep a simple blog, and take a few minutes to type (or dictate) his own, honest impressions after the events, like “What a great reception I got when I arrived” or “A young man in a yellow shirt asked a really great question”, or anything that honestly sounded like his own thoughts.

My colleague’s eyes went wide. He said (I paraphrase) “Blogs? Blogs are diarrhea. I despise blogs. That’s not an appropriate vehicle for our CEO to communicate.” I understood his position – his career was built by carefully crafting and polishing words and paying great attention to nuance. Yet I could see that he wasn’t seeing the potential so I held firm, suggesting that people were more likely to react positively to a more personal voice. Eventually we agreed to disagree.

A year later the CEO’s Gen-Y son had convinced him that he should be using a blog to effectively communicate with his employees, and he wanted to start right away. I’d hate to be a senior corporate communications professional whose executives were getting direction from their kids before they got it from me.

If, in your professional capacity you may be impacted in any way by social media, don’t be dismissive. Pay attention to the changing landscape before it passes you by.

Best practice #5 – Remain neutral! Social media in the enterprise elicits emotional responses in some. Don’t let personal biases impair your ability to perceive the opportunity related to social media, even if you can’t fathom why people would use IM, blogs, wikis, Twitter…or whatever comes next. Something will and it deserves your objective attention.

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