This past week I enjoyed a discussion about how companies are making use of social media. Or, not. It seems fair to say based on casual observation and reading that the majority of businesses still don’t get it. Or, at the very least, they’re not actively participating which is effectively the same thing. You have to participate before you can ‘get it.’
The catalyst for discussion was a Fast Company blog on, “What Should CEOs Tweet?” One correspondent commented that his own company blocks social media and actively discourages it totally. He said they even had to watch a video discussing the ‘terrors’ of social media.
Paranoia can indeed be good. After the Wikileaks indication that the president of Afghanistan’s ‘paranoid,’ I thought, “…and I would be too, if I had every gun in the region pointed toward me at some point.” Probably why he hasn’t been assassinated yet.
More to the point though, I believe social media is here to stay now. Based on my observation and reading, it appears the majority of businesses still don’t understand social media. Or, at the very least, they’re not actively participating. Which, really, is the same thing. You need to actively participate in social media before you will ‘get it.’
Folks, social media is here to stay. Be paranoid if you wish, bury your heads in the sand. But realize it is human nature to want to share or broadcast information as far an wide as possible. It’s been true since stone tablets, papyrus paper, Gutenberg’s press, telephone, fax machines, and more recently, email. Every major evolution has let us make available more information, more freely, than before.
Fighting Social Media is like yelling at the wind!
Seriously, social media because of it’s broad appeal, breadth and depth of reach, is too entrenched to go away. Rather than yell at the wind, businesses need to learn how to harness it, or at a minimum, live in harmony with it.
There are two popular books out right now. On a more personal level is Chris Brogan’s (and Julien Smith) Trust Agents. The other is Charlene Li’s Open Leadership. For businesses, Open Leadership is a practical, pragmatic, and far-reaching discussion about how to integrate it into the fabric of existing companies.
If you’re in business, you cannot afford to ignore social media. Being an emu (think: ostrich) will only be helpful in letting your competition finish eating your lunch and then going on your vacation.