Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Learning from the online missteps of the private sector

Web Strategist Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote about some of the latest social media 'reversals' experienced by companies, and has previously published a chronology of,
companies that were blind-sided by the internet, they didn’t understand the impacts of the power shift to the participants, or how fast information would spread, or were just plain ignorant.
There's no public sector organisations listed - however it's not much of a stretch to believe that many government departments are vulnerable to public damage in similar ways.

Note that in most cases the damage is caused by a lack of effective engagement, not from engaging - which some could conclude leads to a situation where not engaging online is significantly more risky than engaging.

A comment on Jeremiah's blog by Kersten Kloss sums it up for me (just replace 'company' with 'department':
Companies can no longer afford to avoid the social web as a communications medium. They need to become involved in it, to engage in the online world and mingle with their clients and peers. If you truly believe you are the best at what you do then you have nothing to fear by opening up to the social web. Allow yourself to be more transparent. Lead the rest by sharing yourself and offering assistance to others, even if that free assistance gives away some of your proprietary secrets.

If you can’t then you need to look deep inside your organization and fix a far more challenging issue, your stagnancy as an organization.
I often wonder how often non-engagement risk is considered in government programs alongside engagement risks.

Or how often a clever, inventive and funny response is considered as a way to soften and mitigate an already existing situation. For example, EA's reply to the 'Jesus shot' bug reported and widely discussed online in a Tiger Wood's golf game - in the video below.

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