Getting It

If you were to poll the people in your industry, how many would know what Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are?

Okay… now how many of those actually know what they do?

Because the difference between knowing what something is and what it does is the difference between strategy and tactic.

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Here’s an example, which is really an addendum to the story about my friend, whose new employer ordered him to shut down his blog.

He’s going to work for a television station in an on-air capacity, and I am proud for him because he really is quite skilled as a storyteller. As part of his job, he will be asked to contribute to active Twitter and Facebook presences. You know, promoting the station’s brand through a personal brand that connects with people. (The use of Personal Brand here is mine, not his or the owners, per se…)

Anyone else see an issue with this?

That my friend will be expected to share updates with the world through Twitter and Facebook, to engage with people with online tools… but he can’t have a blog?

This is clearly a case of knowing what something is, but not what it does.

Are they not aware that his Facebook Wall is the functional equivalent of a Tumblr blog? Or that his Notes section is really just a blog in its own right?

If he were able to continue running a blog at WordPress or Blogger, he might be able to use the more advanced layout and editing functions to tell stories in a visually-engaging manner. You know, like a gifted storyteller working in a hybrid visual/aural/text medium.

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This frustration isn’t confined to his industry, his employer, or even this particular lack of understanding. It’s happening across the business world, as very expensive battle lines are being drawn around who can use what to talk about which.

Companies are very sensitive about their proprietary information, and the default setting on new technologies is often “Off – until we’re convinced we can’t afford not to turn it on.”

Firms that are deathly afraid of secrets leaving the company through Facebook messaging don’t seem to give a second thought to their phones and their copier machines. There’s no one in the mail room probing every outgoing parcel.

Yet now we have Facebook Groups, which allow people to share information in a manner that is almost exactly like the Inbox. If a woman is blocked from Facebook’s Inbox at her office, she can still share private messages in a Secret Group made up just of family members. For that matter, she could also post it on her public wall, but lock down the secrecy to specific individuals.

What this speaks to is a fundamental lack of thought and understanding.

Fear Behind the Wheel

In the corporate world, Fear remains in the driver’s seat. I’ve been invited to several “free webinars” that attempt to explain the vulnerabilities, caveats and dangers of social media technologies. It just so happens that these magnanimous White Knights represent companies that offer software solutions that would plug these gaping holes in the architecture.

Yet I laugh, because for every hole they would patch, they leave at least three functional equivalents completely ignored. What they are selling isn’t real security, but a false sense of peace. They’re selling corporate risk managers and IT departments on the myth that they’ve “done something” to curb a problem that isn’t really about technology at all. It’s a matter of employee behavior.

That’s not to say these Virtual Placebos aren’t effective. Most employees wouldn’t dare try to circumvent directives. Unfortunately, they also become so afraid they refuse to go near the technology at all. (Yes, people used to avoid the fax machine, for fear of accidentally dialing a long-distance number that would keep them on the line for too long.)

Which leaves us with the worst of both worlds. A workforce that is afraid to use the tools that could strengthen business relationships and productivity; and a corporate culture that spends inordinate resources closing a hole, while leaving several others untended and ignored.

Rolodex by jcroach, on FlickrI wish my friend the best of luck… and only hope he’s allowed to create a specific Twitter account for his station, and a Facebook Fan Page for his work-related profile. It would be a shame for him to lose his blog, then lose his personal Twitter and Facebook profiles a couple of years later when the station claims his electronic rolodexes as company property.

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  1. Ike Pigott says:

    There's a difference between knowing what something IS, and knowing what it DOES |

  2. Ike Pigott says:

    When companies don't "Get it," strange decisions follow |

  3. Mike Masin says:

    They don't understand SM so they fear it, avoid it, and lose out -> RT @ikepigott: Getting It

  4. m2ky says:

    They don't understand SM so they fear it, avoid it, and lose out -> RT @ikepigott: Getting It

  5. Gyula Kovacs says:

    Reading: Getting It – If you were to poll the people in your industry, how many would know what Twitter, Facebook an…

  6. Gyula Kovacs says:

    Fear remains in the driver’s seat when it comes to social media by @ikepigott #sm #fb #pr

  7. Best Fresh Content Pick: Getting It by @IkePigott