Monday, May 23, 2011

Social Media TRUST Is Like Wearing A Lapel Pin

Last Friday Jay Baer published a post "Speak No Evil - Why Trust Isn't a 4 Letter Word in Social Media." I came across his piece as I have "social" friends that follow Jay; I saw a Tweet and took a break to read the post. Maybe you read it, maybe you commented -- I will say this, the conversation got pretty interesting. If you have ever been an employer or employee you might want to add your two cents. Here is mine!

Circa 1979 Crocker National Bank AVP
Two years ago I touched on my corporate career, writing a piece for my company's blog. If you read this blog with any regularity, then you might know about other jobs I have held since 1968! I once wrote a whole post about my adventures of being a Sears' employee.  OK, suffice it to say I have been in the work force for 43 years. I have seen a lot. That is why I was taken aback when Jay said: "The belief in decentralized social media and every employee being in marketing is taking root in America." I believe that for decades, maybe even approaching a century + companies have known that every employee is part of marketing. This is not NEW!

Companies may take a different approach now that we have "social media," but it is really not very different than the days of lapel pins and/or uniforms.

Weren't we always social? I think so. 40 plus years ago the banking industry dreamed of eliminating tellers by introducing Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), but they soon discovered that customers still like and need to go into a bank office and interact with bank employees and why not have that be a teller, as opposed to a marketer or Vice President. According to Wikipedia: "Tellers are considered a "front line" in the banking business. This is because they are the first people that a customer sees at the bank and are also the people most likely to detect and stop fraudulent transactions in order to prevent losses at a bank." Given this definition you'd think it was a pretty high paying job...but the median income for tellers is about $22,000.

Jay is correct when he concludes that "common sense and good judgment is not the sole property of a department" such as marketing, but I disagree with Jay when he says that "it's just that social media missteps are public," as if news media has not always been public.  Jay suggests (I am sure tongue-in-cheek) that companies might consider reading employees' emails or listen in on their phone calls. These two activities have been part of the corporate world for a long time. And when the corporate world was less technically mature, we had mimeograph machines, steno pads, the Recordak machine, microfilm, multi-line phones and employees' memories.  I think what Jay might have meant to say is that today's social media missteps are immediate. They were always PUBLIC.

Ernest Hemingway once said: "The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." Trust is a two way street and it doesn't take long for an employee or employer to know whether they can trust each other. Think about the lapel pin. Recognizable logos! As soon as the employee is seen in PUBLIC wearing the company pin they are part of the Social Media department. When a company hands the employee the pin or supplies a uniform or logo embroidered polo shirt they have broadened the employee's role to include marketing. The employee's social audience has broadened further than one might imagine.

Last year at BWE10 I heard Jeffrey Hayzlett remark that the "customer owns the brand;" today's board rooms and senior management would do well to remember that every employee really is and always has been part of marketing. I have some great lapel pins to prove it!

Go ahead click the photo. How many of these companies can you identify?

Do you have any lapel pins? How about polo shirts? I would love to know what you think...
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John McLachlan said...

I loved this post. I was just reading a book by Paul Theroux where he quotes the narrator in a Borges story "The Congress" which goes: "I can tell I am growing old. One unmistakable sign is the fact that I find novelty neither interesting nor surprising, perhaps because I see nothing essentially new in it — it's little more than timid variations on what's already been."

Loved the pins/name tags.

Judy Helfand said...

Well, let's see. Basically, everything old is new again...unless one is as old as the old! LOL and one of my lapel pins is 42 years old.


Anonymous said...

OK, not a co-worker, but as your younger brother I claim fellow-traveler status. Earning a masters degree in computer resources and information management forced me to not only learn how the magic box actually worked, but caused me to look at the history of the internet in order to augment my own anecdotal evidence for this observation: the social media has made people, especially those who really need to check the dipstick on their serotonin level, to lose all sense of propriety in their social intercourse. People have been made to feel “safe” to say, or do, anything when in fact they manifestly are not. Unlike snail mail there is no expectation of privacy with regard to anything one puts out there in the ether. In my son Joe’s seventh grade class this year here in suburban, heavily Mormon, Arizona, there was a case of “sexting” in which a young lady way ahead of her age group in the realm of physical development sent a picture of herself in the altogether to a boy in the class who naturally being 13, male, and therefore preternaturally stupid, shot it all over perdition on his cell phone. It took about 30 seconds for it to arrive in the possession of the very young female principal and all hell to break loose including police investigating for possible charges of distribution of child pornography. The school year is nearly over and this thing is still reverberating around the neighborhood; especially in my cul-de-sac of dreams where the young lady happens to reside. I beat it into my own children and the masters candidates I teach in a course on terrorism and extremist activity, that if what they have to say is in any way inflammatory or could be read in some way other than what they intended, think hard about it before they press “Send,” because the possible repercussions can last a whole lot longer than the item’s lifespan on the worldwide web.


Judy Helfand said...

I agree. Do you know how long I think about each post, each tweet, facebook update? Trying to follow Mom's guideline "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all"; however, what I was trying to convey in this post is that we act like all of this social stuff is new, when really - in day's gone by- if your direct reports showed up in town on shore leave in their uniforms...their behavior good or bad would send a message. It might travel a little slower, but it still was public.

Parenting has never been easy, but technology adds a new dimension.


Amber Avines said...

Jeffrey Hayzlett is so right! Customers and employees! It's just that basic.

Judy, I think the issue of trust that you touch on is crucial. I think that's where companies get nervous. Many don't trust their employees to represent their brands. Crazy really. If you can't trust an employee, why were they hired in the first place?

Sure, not all have a knack for being promotional and rah rah, but tap into those who do! I think many companies will be surprised to see how many employees are excited and energized about the opportunity!

Judy Helfand said...

Thanks so much for stopping by here today. Indeed why - If you can't trust an employee, why were they hired in the first place? Sometimes bad hiring just happens and then management fails to deal with it in a timely fashion.

You are right...not all employees have a promotional knack, but most enjoy watching those that do. Sitting in the gallery watching the process can be a lot of fun. Bottom line if you like your employer your apparent happiness is rah rah...and can go viral.


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