The F-Factor: It’s good to talk…unless of course you’re scared stiff
Over the past few months I’ve begun to notice something sinister in some of the social media training sessions I’ve been giving. No, it’s not Gollum sitting in the corner, but something far worse. In fact, if left unchecked it threatens to ruin the public face of some of the larger corporates we know. Indeed, it appears the F-Factor is spreading through firms like bindweed and choking their creativity.
Let me explain. On more than a couple of visits of late I’ve seen what can only be described as the F-Factor in the eyes of trainees. It would appear that many employees are literally paralysed with fear when it comes to dipping their toes in the water as far as social media is concerned.
Now, while this may come as no surprise to some, I have to say that it really took me aback. You’d think that communications officers within these big firms would actively be encouraged to inject some personality into their work and particularly when it comes to online. And of course, social media has to form a part of that in any case, right?
However, I have to say how shocked I was to find senior practitioners scared of things like Twitter and with very little experience at all when it comes to social media itself. In fact in some cases it was scary to imagine them leading the line for those they serve. Worse still, the very thought of a tweet left some sitting in front of me worried about who might see and the implications it might have for them.
To think that some of these firms are at the bleeding edge of tactical decisions made by others is a scary thought, particularly without any seasoned quarterbacks on the team to get them out of trouble.
It soon became apparent that the corporate culture within these companies had left their marcomms teams simply petrified about making a mistake and being hung out to dry for it. There’s no excuse for that, especially with a planned social media policy in place. But how had they even got to this point? I mean, all marketing professionals, particularly those within Fortune 500 companies, should be well versed in the art of social media shouldn’t they?
There are some important points to remember here. The first is that there is nothing scary about tweeting when you’ve had sound advice and expert social media training. That should be a prerequisite of any move into the online space for these businesses. With this, employees will have little to fear and everything to gain for both themselves and the companies they work for.
The second is that those at the top should also bear in mind that thoughtful and helpful engagement with the communities they serve can add real value to that bottom line as well as helping to remove the sometimes stuffy and boring images associated with such institutions.
Lastly, it seems strange to think that so many corporates are missing a trick here, particularly those with social media policies that actively discourage interaction and engagement by telling employees that their time is ‘better served working on clients and doing the necessary things to develop your career within the business’. And yes, I’ve seen more than one policy like this of late.
The fact is that social is here to stay and for any credible communications practitioner it should form part of their thinking and therefore their daily routine.