Social Media – Release the Inner F@*!wit!

Yep, she be gathering momentum.

Having just made a big fat posting about changing my mind, eating gateau d’humilite, and advocating getting a social media policy (quickly, quickly, before it goes horribly, horribly wrong) if only to control those of your people who will undoubtedly, as sure as a werewolf comes over all bristly roundabout full moon, mutate into dribbly village idiots when confronted with social media –  and I surf directly into this.

Oooop. The fine lads and lasses of the Emergency Department at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital find themselves suspended pending a disciplinary, having decided to play the Lying Down Game (google it, my life’s too short) and post their pictures on Facebook. Seven of them were suspended. You’d have thought, simply according to the law of averages, that one of them would have been bright enough to say ‘hey up, guys – maybe we shouldn’t be doing this’. But they did it anyway.

A fair proportion of the blame lies with the hospital authority. Quite clearly there wasn’t a social media strategy (for strategy, read ‘draconian guideline policy’) in place and quite clearly, no-one had bothered to monitor social media outlets to see what was being said/posted. So you can’t wholly blame the employees – they had a right (I guess) to expect to be protected from themselves.

Now – before anyone points out that I’m being a hypocrite and a two-faced, mealy-mouthed, stance-changer (having made it very clear that I believe social media to be impossible to monitor or regulate) – when I say ‘monitor social media’ what I mean is having a quick look at Facebook and Twitter and searching for the name of your brand, company or organisation.

In this case, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to track down the Secret Swindon Emergency Department Group. 

Actually, on reflection, maybe those employees on suspension deserve everything that’s coming to them.

Social Media – Careful What You Twit For

There was an article by Duncan Bannantyne (one of those TV entrepreneurs) in the Telegraph recently, dealing with Twitter and how it had got him into trouble. The article started thus:

“Does Gordon Ramsay always eat in one of his restaurants? Does Tiger Woods only wear Nike clothing?

 I suspect not.

 Yet when I had the audacity to spend some time at my French villa in between filming for a forthcoming TV show on great British seaside towns, I was called a “hypocrite” by sections of the national media.”

(You can read the whole thing by doing clickety-doos here.)

Unfortunately, Mr Bannantyne is labouring under the impression that the media hate him because he was filming a programme on British seaside towns, and spending time at his villa in France. I’d hazard a guess that really, that’s not the problem. The problem is that he’s got a villa in France and he’s Twittering about it. And about having glasses of wine. At his villa in France.

It’s a very fine line, obviously. He’s a successful man (I believe) and therefore he has the trappings of success. And quite right too. Thing is, people don’t really want to know about it. What they want to know from Mr Bannantyne is how to ape his success – they want from him pearls of wisdom in terms of entrepreneurship, growing businesses – making cash.

So, three things. (And, in fairness, Mr Bannantyne asks the questions and recognises the issues.)

The hubris of Twitter – why would you post from an airport terminal when you’ve time to spare? No-one – apart from your close friends and family (and not many of them) – cares whether you’ve got time on your hands in an airport terminal.

The content you post to Twitter – if you’re a celebrity, if people expect stuff from you, if you’re an expert on something, then recognise your responsibility. There’s things people want to know and things they don’t.

The ubiquity and immediacy of Twitter – once it’s posted, assume it’s everywhere.

Anyone who follows this blog (the blog that nobody reads) will know how I feel about social media and the dangers to corporate reputation that it represents. I think this is a great case in point – Mr Bannatyne is his own body corporate. He has a reputation to uphold – a reputation that he trades on. His off-the-cuff Tweets did some damage.

He’s a serious businessman. He probably understands the ins and outs of communication. Imagine the damage that could be done by someone posting to social media, on behalf of a brand or organisation, that doesn’t have an understanding of communication.