In the last number of years I have seen one common trait in Social Media – the truth will always come out -it is pretty obvious. By that I mean, there is nothing weird, strange nor mystifying about the truth. Most Urban Legends, when we get to the bottom of them, prove that point. Or, when we finally hear the truth behind a scandal or a rumor, it is probably quite simple, understandable and not that titilating.
"Nothing to see here folks … move along!"
This tool, rather than a channel, as Michael Dell so eloquently puts it, is a pretty good leveler of the playing field.
If you are an arrogant, bureaucratic and land-locked organization you will come across as that. You simply cannot hide it. If you are an arrogant, bureaucratic and land-locked organization with a hip PR team, you will come across as that too, because I cannot ever recall some PR hipster ever being there for me on the front lines manning the phones, at the check-out, at the service bay or the help desk. The truth will set you (Us really!) free! It will also be as plain as the nose on your face. And that "nose" has been evidenced by the slew of SM nightmares we have all seen online.
One of my favorite sayings – "Fish rot from the head down." When I consult with an organization I mandate I start at the top – the corner office, or the Board of Directors. My discoveries will show me the culture of an organization and if the consulting involves a Social Media component this top-down, trickle culture is where I start. The senior managers HAVE to buy in and get it! I personally believe you cannot have effective SM if the senior managers are either ignorant of it, scared of it or out of touch.
Similarly, if you are a small business owner with lots of hutzpah that will also come across. So be carefull. Generally speaking small business folks do not have handlers to keep them in check. Small business is just like Charlie Sheen – he could really use a handler .. or three or four!
If you are en evolved organization that cares … yep, it is just as obvious. The truth about how great you and your people are, comes across, all the time and at every touchpoint.
In that article mentioned above, there is another quote from Michael Dell …
We give everyone a phone on their desk – so why not allow staff to connect with customers or suppliers with social media?”
Absolutely! I love that line … This is so simple, and so elegant in its positioning of Social Media. I would imagine 70 years ago folks were trying to wrap their heads around the phone as a tool. This is what we are doing today. We are evolving,learning, have better tools, better understanding and we will ultimately move to ubiquity in this space. Just like we have with the telephone.