But what if someone says something wrong?

old way

I was in the middle of a social media training session with the senior team of a client and Mick, who was one of the elder statesmen in the group asked a question.

This brand new world is a scary place for Mick who has been doing his own thing in his own way for a long time and now that day has come. The company believe that they are missing out by not fully embracing technologies that might deliver them business and LinkedIn is the platform they chose for me to run a training session for them.

I’m guessing that Mick and probably some of the other guys have been hoping that this day wouldn’t come but eventually it has arrived and I was the ‘scary monster‘ who was standing up at the top of the room talking about this dreaded LinkedIn, the thing that they feared could possibly render all of their skills, crafted over many years out of date and useless.

His body language, disguised with a little bit of humour screamed “I am choking, please let me out of here!“.

He sat there during the session saying very little.

At the beginning of these sessions I spend a lot of time with the team figuring out what ‘stories‘ they want to tell about their organisation.

We are an experienced team, we have our own R&D department, our technology is ahead of everything else in the marketplace, how the company came about is very compelling, we work with some of the biggest companies, we are successful, we are expanding, there is a genuine 24/7 service and the culture is very strong.”

This is a company you would want to do business with.

We explored how we could communicate some of these things on an ongoing basis with a combination of blog posts, published posts, company and personal status updates on LinkedIn.

I always stress that you must be clear what your objectives are and the messages that you want to communicate. I talk about developing a ‘message board‘ that is built into the organisation social media strategy for the company and this should be shared with all team members to ensure they understand what the content guidelines are.

Out of the blue Mick popped up with a question: “But what if someone says something wrong?“.

I think he had accepted that it was time to face his fear and now he threw out his real fear that in ways has been fuelled by media reports about damage that has been done to organisations by stupid things being posted by people working there.

What could we possibly do to prevent that from happening?

Ironically he made this comment right in the middle of that part of the training where I am setting the content guidelines with the team.

On the phone, chats with team members, meetings with clients, conversations at conferences… we all have the potential to say something stupid or damaging but we are trained and trusted to do our jobs and represent the places we work for properly.

Social media is no different and you do have to trust your teams but you must give them clear guidelines and explain what is expected of them.

Unfortunately those ‘stupid’ mistakes happen when this is not done and when someone inexperienced (typically when someone is “good” on Facebook) and lacking in knowledge about the organisation is given free rein to post for the organisation. It can also happen when an outside agency is appointed to post on behalf of the company without proper briefing and controls.

Mick, you are right but we will make sure this won’t happen here!

p.s. Mick knows his customers and his organisation better than anyone and will fly once he loses his fear.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

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