Social Media Policies and Assessment

I should confess that I am more interested in managing the more human elements to technology, than with technology itself.  I always attempt to locate, somewhere within (perhaps deep, deep within) myself some Richard version that takes easily to new technology.  Sadly, it is a struggle.  But happily – I really got into this week’s readings.  Policy development?  Bring it!

I was first intrigued with the idea, suggested in the Lauby article, that everyone within any organization now operates as a “spokesperson”.  Perhaps a few of us in the class have been in a situation where we had to redirect public or press inquiries to designated company individuals.  Here’s a small example:  I remember – as a supervisor with HMV – there was an issue of leaving front doors open during hot, summer days.  Stores wanted doors open to welcome passing patrons, but hot days equate heavy energy consumption.  My management at the time was insistent that we ignore suggestions that it may be irresponsible to blow a/c into the sidewalk.  Many local papers were making the rounds to stores with open door.  Considering that most of the staff did not sympathize with the company, we were distinctly told that we should not answer any press question.  There was a certain amount of (reasonable) distrust that there was staff buy-in on this issue.  Of course, now with Twitter, how can this kind of thing be controlled / managed?

I find the concept of “buy-in” compelling.  During the last years of my HMV tenue, I found much of my staff facing difficulties fitting into new paradigms.  I struggled as well.  (This is not intended as an indictment of the company – difficult times out there for music retail).  As representatives of an organization, however, we did not entirely buy-in into the company’s message.  As the staff continued to feel at odds with the company (and vice versa), buy-in deteriorated until most of the staff left or was pushed out.

I witnessed buy-in failure at HMV and wonder on the stakes when we bring social media into the equation.  Many of the other articles we read this week, suggested means to address this challenge.  Certainly transparency, respect and accuracy aid in getting a large amount of people on any kind of message.  The articles hint that the stakes are high, as we add social media to the equation.  I have no trouble imagining how difficult managing disconnected HMV staff would have been, had many of them engaged – beyond disgruntled Facebook posts – more in social media.  Buy-in may be important, but how to achieve it seems elusive.  The articles suggest we need to consider it at all levels: hiring, training etc. Social media will become much more than a subset of the work (no matter where we work) but rather an irreplaceable component.

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