The more “enlightened” have allowed unrestricted access, whilst perhaps cursing their inability to prevent staff wasting hours of time on it. The “intelligent view” then developed, which restricted its use to out of office hours; others even thought of confining it to a central computer in the middle of the room so that the users could be shown as such.And then of course it dawned on all of us that it could now be downloaded on to a mobile which meant that the “secret user brigade” were quite able to access Facebook as often as they wanted to. The real problem is that banning Facebook sends out a message that we don’t trust our staff to use their time responsibly and that we assume that the use of Facebook can be of no possible value to the businesses that we run. That, of course, then leads on to the argument about whether social media can or should play a part in how we go about our business. New internet, new rules The internet is clearly a rule changer. The change in communications from one-to-many into many-to-many is fact, not a fanciful theory. It’s clear that we, the purveyors of the marketing message, no longer have the right of response to the resultant consumer reaction that the old style of communication allowed us to have. No longer can we rely on creating an image that reflects our product or service when people talk about us between themselves without us being able to control those conversations. Reputation is all, and yours will stand or fall on what other people say – or what they don’t say – to each other about you. Even if you really can’t bring yourself to tweet (and I’m not sure at the moment that I’m quite ready to do so!), the compelling reason to open a Twitter account is to use the phenomenon as a defensive mechanism. How many business leaders still talk about social media as if it pertains only to youth and vanity? Woe betide the business that is not aware of what is being said about it! Stay out of the loop on conversations and groups that discuss your business or at least the areas in which you would like your business to operate and you’re dead in the water. Failure to monitor or respond to adverse criticism (which Google or Twitter Alerts will serve up to you on a plate) is like paying your PR agency to say bad things about you. How do these luddites (exhausted from the pressure of just having had to absorb the internet and then email) excuse their inability to react? Well, there’s nothing new under the sun, is there? Precisely! What’s going on here has always gone on. The little black book has now become the LinkedIn list of connections. The gossip that floats round one’s members’ club is now the conversations that take place in the industry or social group that you should have joined on Facebook or LinkedIn. God forbid that one should ignore what is being said about one! Watching The King’s Speech at the weekend reminded me of the inexorable way that change works in the world of communication. If only all we had to dread was the incursion of the radio into our lives, then wouldn’t life be simple… Christopher Jenkins is co-founder and senior partner of business advisory and accountancy firm Wingrave Yeats. He is also non-executive director of Think London.
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