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Social media is an echo chamber

July 30, 2009

Here’s an article from eMarketer. It even has some neat graphs.

According to Deloitte, nearly one-third (30%) of executives said social networking is a part of their business and operations strategy. 

Social Networking Activities of US Companies, April 2009 (% of respondents)

According the the article:

A smaller, but still significant, number reported leveraging the Web 2.0 tools to build their brand, communicate internally, recruit employees and engage the workforce.

Now we should stop here for a second. This is the interesting part. You can’t really “communicate internally” with social media. Social media is public. It’s not e-mail, it’s a thread on Facebook, a conversation on Twitter, whatever… it’s public.

I’ll skip “recruit employees” because it’s the odd phrase out of this odd phrase. The last part is, “engage the workforce”.

Again, this is public. If a business wanted to update the workforce, doing it on Facebook or other social media places is public.

That’s probably why the next part of the story has another shiny graph that talks about the serious downsides to using social networks—which even enthusiastic users admit. Yes, there’s a downside to social media. The nice people at Domino’s learned it. Employees at Domino’s did silly thing with the food while in official garb, filmed it, and put it on YouTube.

News Flash: Social media can damage a company’s rep

Here’s a graph to illustrate visually how scared we are of social media.

US Employees Who Believe Social Media Usage Can Damage a Company

In this same article, 53% of employees felt that their online profiles are none of their employers’ business. More than one-third never consider what their bosses, clients or colleagues think before posting.

So you can see the conundrum. It’s dead easy to share thoughts, frustrations, wins and losses in social media. On the management side, they are beginning to realize it also dead easy to see how they are all connected.

Do this test: Google yourself, and count the clicks it takes to find out where you work. Chances are good Google will connect LinkedIn to Facebook (especially if you have a fancy vanity URL) on your search results page. If you wanted to keep your Facebook profile separate from work, you’re fighting Google who thinks your FB profile is a relevant result for you.

Think about the things you write in the echo chamber of social media. Continue to be funny, entertaining and human. Just be aware that it’s dead easy to listen.

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