Author Archives: David Hopkins

Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do

"Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web" by Euan Semple

Review: Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do

Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web”, by Euan Semple, is a book no manager or business owner should ignore. Social Media is most definitely here to stay and is becoming a primary source for businesses of all sizes to contact and interact with their customer base. 

I can’t remember now how I came to hear about this book now; it could have been the Amazon digest email recommending it based on other books I’ve bought or browsed, or it could have been someone on Twitter, but the blurb resonated with me on a level of my own use of social media. The book aims to provide:

“managers in all sorts of organizations, from governments to multinationals, with practical advice, insight and inspiration on how the Web and social tools can help them to do their jobs better … this uniquely people-centric guide to social media in the workplace offers managers, at all levels, valuable insights into the networked world as it applies to their challenges as managers, and it outlines practical things they can do to make social media integral to the tone and tenor of their departments or organizational cultures.”

The book centres itself around the need to collaborate and engage with colleagues in different media (blogs, networks, wikis, etc.) to further empower the working process or the workforce. Rather than look at individual tools Semple looks at the techniques of working together and of openly sharing or discussing a need or problem to achieve the common goal: project-based, time-based, team-based, cost-based, etc. Semple is also very clear that the changes in business that he sees are not as a result of the use of social media but that social media has fulfilled a role that was needed, but not present, until now:

“This isn’t a technological revolution followed by social change, but a social revolution made easier by technological change.”

With chapters called “volume control on mob rule”, “your staff are your best advocates”, and “the more you give the more you get” it is clear that Semple has a deep understanding of trends and impact of social media and, more importantly, how the ‘individual’ can have a benign or malevolent impact on the wider community.

“Our workplaces are lagging behind what we can do at home and the pressure is increasingly on us to keep up. How do you do this as an individual and as an organization?”

“If we had lively and extensive internal online networks where we could collectively influence the decisions made at higher levels could we avoid some of the more damaging and self-serving corporate and institutional decisions?”

“Those in authority are prone to knee-jerk reactions when things go wrong – to blame what is only understood by a minority and to prey on the fears of the majority. We see this in corporations’ paranoia about Facebook and governments blaming social tools for upheavals in society. But they are all just tools. Tools used by people to do things they care about.”

Need some examples where employees, or those in authority, get it wrong? How about:

  • October 2011: Chris Huhne, former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, sent a public tweet when he thought it would be private. Read more on the BBC News website.
  • January 2013: Employees use HMV’s official twitter account to live-tweet during a meeting where they find out they’re being fired en-masse. Read more on The Independent website.
  • April 2013: Paris Brown’s previous ‘abusive’ tweets landed her in trouble after she was appointed as the UK’s first Youth Police and Crime Commissioner. Read more on the BBC News or The Guardian websites.

The bigger questions being raised in certain circles are, thankfully, more about how do we educate individuals (for it is individuals who are using it, even if under the premise of a corporate account) to use social media properly and/or appropriately before they come unstuck and do, post, or say something they will later regret, possibly even find themselves being investigated for. Perhaps this kind of knowledge and training will help stop unnecessary ‘trolling’?

Joshua Unsworth killed himself because of the taunting and cyber-bullying antics of a small minority, a sad waste of life that should not have been taken, and should have been prevented. We know that bullying doesn’t stop when you leave school, that managers and employers are equally capable of bullying … why do we never hear about these stories in the press? Is it so rare it never gets reported, or so prevalent that it’s no longer newsworthy?

Is it something more basic than just educating us on the repercussion of negative activity online, or is this saying more about our evolving human nature in an online world where there is little policing or justice for aggressive negativity?

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