Friend or Foe part 2

posted by Scott McKenzie

As many of you know I was lucky enough to host an event last week here at H&K on social media.

We decided to try a slightly different format for the evening breaking the participants into two debate teams. Even the term I use here (“participants” as opposed to “attendees”) has meaning. Whether you’re a fan of social media or not – the one thing it does is drive participation.

One side took the friend of social media position. The other the foe. What followed was a remarkable debate. You can watch the highlights see below:

Social Media: Friend or Foe? from Hill & Knowlton on Vimeo.

What struck me was that the proponents of Social Media hit upon an underlying truth. Social Media is the new reality. Opposing it is not wrong. It’s simply irrelevant. You may be an internal communicator battling for your organisation to adopt or even simply acknowledge that social media is in any way useful. My advice is stop.

What you should do is point out that social media is prevalent. And shutting off access to facebook on your systems is like the infamous Maginot Line. A very impressive show of strength. But ultimately futile.  Your colleagues will simply find other ways to access it. On work time. You can’t stop them.

For the foes I was impressed by the originality of their arguments. My old friend Matthew from GE had a couple of crowd-pleasing soundbytes. My personal favourite was that social media was simply a tool for “online gossip”.

And of course underneath that lies a serious point. Much of the commentary on blogs and other social media does not constitute expert opinion. If you have access to the internet and have a lot to say then you can howl at the moon (virtually) to your hearts content.

But that doesn’t mean that these ravings don’t have an impact. Or indeed some justification. Ultimately social media is blurring the (already blurred) lines between internal and external communications. Youtr colleagues and consumers are probably talking about your products and services in a virtual chat room right now. The question is would you know about it if they were?

P.S. – well worth looking at my colleague Grant Smith’s take on the event here.

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