On May 7, 2009, Boyd Neil, Senior Vice President and Director of Hill and Knowlton’s National Corporate Communications Practice moderated a very timely discussion with three panelists as part of the Empire Club of Canada’s lunch ‘n learn experience. Joining Boyd for a very candid discussion on the challenges and opportunities that come with the continued rise of Social Media in business and industry was Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING Direct, Suzanne Fallender, Manager Corporate Responsibility at Intel Corp and Tom Watson, Senior Writer for Canadian Business Magazine.
Boyd set the foundation for the ensuing discussion by suggesting that because “more people are connected in more ways than ever before,” business leaders have to seriously rethink their approach to engagement and reputation management. He argued that because public trust in companies has declined so drastically over the past few years, social tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have become the new “anatomy of interaction” for consumers to assemble and organize around both action and dissent. Boyd then went on to suggest that generic brand building strategies need be abandoned in favour of people first strategies which do a much better job of tapping into real conversations that reside in communities of interest. Finally he concluded his opening monologue before turning it over to the panelists by hammering home the message that the “new backbone of influence” is in fact the social network.
The hour long discussion with the panelists presented differing viewpoints on the subject in addition to some key take home messages for any business toying with the idea of leveraging social media to drive communication strategies. Below are some key messages that I walked away with from being a part of this enlightening discussion.
Alignment with corporate values/culture is extremely important for social media success
Peter Aceto (@CEO_INGDIRECT), one of a handful of twittering CEOs today shared some very candid remarks with Boyd and the panel on how and why he chooses to put the reputation of himself and his company out there 140 characters at a time. According to Peter, social media is not for every organization.