Monday, June 28, 2010

Casual Tweets Cost ......Lots!

In an update to my post on social media risk multipliers it seems that the "Casual"  and "Open" nature of real time web interaction are the key multipliers that gets both individuals and organisations into trouble.

( Image: Chris Sharp / )

Having reviewed a number of the high profile Twitter and Facebook mistakes it is clear that real time web 'slip ups' are not restricted to one sector of society. Private individuals, celebs, employees, businesses and even local councillors have all run into hot water using this transparent and casual communication medium.

For example:


As reported in the Guardian, Chris Evans recently had to apologise for retweeting a joke about poverty in Africa.  Evans is quoted as saying he "had not read it properly" before retweeting.  It is this split second decision to re-tweet with properly reading or thinking that caused Evans' embarrassment.

Think:  how many times have you re-tweeted without looking at the link in the original tweet.  What if it were pornographic?

On this topic, I can see link hijacking as a growing problem and trend.

2. Brands

Habitat is probably the best known example of a brand having a social media PR problem.  The story goes that an intern casually promoted habitat products via a hashtag discussing the Iranian election.  This resulted in negative PR and a twitter backlash.

Think:  how many times do you use a hashtag without looking at the conversation that it is being used for?

3. Employees

As reported by the BBC, Vigrin Atlantic sacked 13 staff for calling passengers as "Chavs" on facebook.  No doubt the social side of Facebook led to these employees communicating with their guard down. 

Think: how many times do you interact on facebook and how many people can see those updates and posts?  How will your personal thoughts reflect on you and your business?

4. Businesses

Businesses often discuss new client wins or client work to show off their credentials and as part of their PR strategies, but they do so via the real time web at alarming speed and often without sanction from a client. 

Conversely, I have seen businesses get into trouble for their staff tweeting opinions and promoting content that is contrary to the interest of their clients.  They have done this without thinking and again it comes back to the casual nature of the RTW. 

Think: what will my client think if they see this post/tweet/status update.  Can I afford to upset them?

Don't forget clients will be trending their names and sectors!

5. Political Animals
Stuart McLennan was the labour candidate  who was sacked after making casual remarks using twitter.  He is quoted as describing old people as "coffin dodgers" and obviously didn't realise or was relaxed about his informal comments.

Think: are my comments appropriate, they will be published to the world.

Whilst I can't confess to have discussed these issues personally with the parties involved it appears from the reports that casual and open communication has cost jobs, careers, brand image and trust.

For me the key is to only tweet, post, like, retweet or interact in a way that you do not mind the rest of the world knowing about.      

However, whilst we can  think, plan, trend and create policies and strategies to manage and prevent these situations, nothing prepares you for a disgruntled employee.  For example Vodafone apologised to its followers after a tweet was sent from its account saying "VodafoneUK is fed up of dirty homo's and is going after beaver".

How would you manage such a situation? 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Data is the new Oil"

I was following a twitter stream from the Future of Digital Marketing conference using #fodm at which Gerd Leonhard talked about Data as being 'the new oil'.

This analogy struck a chord with me as many of my clients who generate significant digital revenue view their data and databases as their prize assets. Continuing Gerd's analogy with some thoughts of my own:

Most data starts life as a crude mass but similarly to oil, Data can be refined and distilled to create a multitude of products and resources. Oil can be used in this way because of its diverse hydrocarbon structure and it is no different to data. Having a database structure that is robust, diverse and flexible enough to be used for various purposes is a must.

Refined and reliable data normally means there are more opportunities to exploit the data, leverage existing revenue streams, enter into collaborative arrangements and means that the data and databases are more coveted and thus more valuable.

However, similar to oil there are safety concerns and avoiding leaks will be key.

Ownership - who owns the data and the database rights from which digital revenue is derived? Who has a right to extract the data and who has a right to refine it? Buying any new data reserve requires careful surveys!

Leakages - does the data contain personal data? what happens if there is a data spill? who pays for the clear up? do you have consent to use the data in the way you intend? would you lose your competitive advantage if your competitors had the same data?

Back up - back up and business continuity plans for data access and data provision are critical. Particularly if you rely on third parties to extract or refine the data for you.

There is the start of a "data rush" at the moment with a great deal of data mining and prospecting. Three of the greatest data reserves have been discovered Twitter, Facebook and Google, but I believe only a small percentage of the value of these reserves has been exploited. I expect with the move to the Internet of things that the tap to these reserves and others will be fully open.