Friday, July 18, 2008

Is it time to have "The Talk"?

Communication about your social media program is essential to having a social media program. It definitely should not be left up to one team to generate all off the communications that goes out through social media channels. In a diverse organization like ours, there are so many voices, and forcing all of them through one channel would lack authenticity.

However social media is not something that you want your organization learning about “on the street" and then just digging in and participating on your behalf. I hear lots of people telling me that they know enough to be "dangerous". In social media we really do not want our representatives out there “being dangerous”. This is the type of behavior that makes communications groups nervous about opening the social media gates.

I was on the phone today with a fellow communications professional. We were talking about training for a group that wants to use Facebook or something to reach a broader audience than they are currently able to. She told me to be careful…A little information can be dangerous in the wrong hands. There is that word again…Dangerous.

It was at that moment I realized what had to be done.

As many of you know, I have a teenage daughter. At the beginning of middle school I sat her down to have “the talk”. Some may say, she was too young to hear this, or that I was giving her information that she could turn around and use to make poor choices. My answer to that was...I would rather her hear the truth from me than learn about it in the streets. The advice her friends may give her will most likely not mirror my goals for her and the morals of our family.

I would rather her learn about this stuff at home, that way if she has questions she knows who to ask, if she makes a mistake, we can deal with the consequences, and she can't say that she didn't know.

So I expect to spend lots of time this year having “The talk” with anyone who will listen. My goal is to teach them how social media works from the perspective of the institution's core values and strategic vision. I think the institution is mature enough to hear this now. Plus there is so much talk, and incorrect information on “the street” about what we are doing, who is allowed to do it, and what we should not do. If we teach them the rules, the benefits, the consequences and how to do it the right way maybe we communicators won’t feel so endangered by their desire to explore these new options.

I think the talk will start like this...Ladies & Gentlemen social media in the context of relationship building can be so very good. But it takes a commitment to see positive results.

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