Social Media Pro … Maybe It’s Time to Get a Productive Job!
“How many people work here? About half.” That sounds kinda’ familiar when you’re talking about people who consider themselves social media professionals. The age-old statement came to mind when we read a recent blog by Mitch Joell, President of Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation.” His post was about employees who spend too much time online and how they are basically stealing. A piece in the “Globe and Mail” pertained to a government employee who was caught – and dismissed – for spending half of his time on the Web surfing and downloading “all” kinds of stuff. Mitch’s point was that employees who are caught spending too much time online doing things that have nothing to do with their work are really time thieves. And it’s not just the people who are “caught.” The rest are also stealing time but … they’re busy. They’re busy updating their Facebook page…polishing their LinkedIn image…Twitting about their coffee, their lunch, their date last evening…watching the cute kitty trick on YouTube. You know, busy taking care of important stuff.
Brave New World
When social media outlets began to gain traction, it was like the great white hope for PR/communications people. This was a frontier that companies/organizations knew very little about. What they did know was that a lot of people were there and thousands more were joining every day. People meant an audience, targets. These individuals were out there sharing everything…including ideas/information on products, services, companies, the person in the next office, their issues, their triumphs, getting hired and getting fired.
C-level management looked at it with mixed emotions:
- It seemed like a great (cheap) way to monetize relationships with customers and have them help the firm develop more relationships/ customers
- They were concerned that people were talking about the company and its products, and they weren’t able to control/manage the conversations
Who knows better how to craft a message, convince folks and control things than PR/communications people? But with the Monday morning quarterbacks, the way players analyze and rehash events of the day; some have taken this expertise to a new level.
Think Twice, Three Times
The way people publicly trip on their own petard, it’s obvious that social media provides a platform that enables folks to make personal and public damage even more public. Or, to paraphrase Mitch Radcliffe, “Social media enables people to make more mistakes than any other invention in history…with the possible exception of handguns and tequila.” Automated Response – New systems, new software will do what publicists don’t seem to want to do, respond to folks online. And they’ll do it without emotional outbursts. Just when the new 140 character graduates thought they’d found a rich career. - MGM
Because of the growing issues surrounding the use and misuse of social media, Clearswift, an international security firm, conducted a survey. They found that the surveyed executives felt that more than half of the time employees spent on social media were wasted. If not wasted, then employees were making errors on sites they visited, paving the way for malware or cybertheft. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have shown outlandish gains in their user bases. But because of the lost productivity and security concerns, Clearswift reported that a growing number of companies have taken action to restrict or block access to social media sites, The IT security firm found that even though there’s a big push by marketing to increase their social media presence (and budget), corporate social media blocking increased 100 percent last year over the previous year. Clearwater also reported that about half of the firms used specialized software to help them block or minimize social media site access.
Why? It isn’t just the wasted time – which is seldom a part of the policy – it’s the security risk and potential data loss. The social media professional surfs from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube and BAM!! But the potential for organizations in building, expanding relationships is too great to simply build walls. And if people can’t learn, act professionally, responsibly there has to be a better solution. There is.
No Emotion Response
You may have seen the article in the “New York Times,” called “In Case You Wondered, a Real Human Wrote This Column” The article discussed a new software solution from Narrative Science and how sports media outlets were using the solution to “write” summary articles. The key points of the article were the increasing sophistication of AI (artificial intelligence), automatic language understanding and language generation. Oren Etzioni, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, said the article created by the software seemed to have been written by a human, if not an accomplished wordsmith. The online industry already makes heavy use of computer-based analytics and key word analysis to determine every detail about a group or individual. Mating those proven – and widely used – capabilities with Narrative Science’s application and you have more than just an inexpensive solution for producing news items. Taken to the next level, companies can suddenly have a 24×7 social media “responder” that doesn’t get sidetracked by the Flickr video and doesn’t lash out in a moment of frustration/irritation. It will be a lot like Hal in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It will simply take in all the information (and surrounding information) and provide the response that is professionally correct without an emotional outburst.
Social media specialists can never be replaced? No more than actors could ever be replaced in movies. Better see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Even Primatologists admitted they found it impossible to distinguish between the real apes in the movie and those using CGI (computer-generated imagery) technology. Is it that much of a leap to come to grips with the fact that if you don’t listen, don’t learn, don’t improve every day; you may not be replaced by Hal or the ape but then again… Just remember, if it is Hal, he has no feelings…its just work. If it’s the ape, at least he will empathize with you.