Friday, April 01, 2011

@dmscott, @#PWCMBS ... Yes, it was a Twitterfest!

Last night I attended an event hosted by PwC as part of their Masters of Business series. We were very fortunate to hear from David Meerman Scott. As you may know, David is in Australia, and today hosted a Social Media Masterclass, which, by all accounts, was sensational. While I couldn't make it to the Masterclass, I was delighted to join PwC and more particularly, to watch the stream of tweets emanating from audience members.

Often when I tweet from events, and I almost only ever tweet from events, not from "real life", I'm often the only one, or one of a very few. It's not as odd as it sounds. Our business is a financial services public relations firm. So I'm tweeting, most often, from financial services conferences, seminars, presentations or other relatively arcane events.

Tonight was oh-so-different. And great fun! What else would you expect from an audience of business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, consultants, and other PwC clients interested in social media? A few of the key points that came out from David's presentation were this:

How to manage the popular employee
Employees having a strong following in social media can be both a curse and a massive advantage. It's up to the employing organisation to turn it into an advantage by sensible use of social media guidelines and enlightened HR practices.

Social media for crisis management
Yes, social media can escalate or help manage a crisis. A key point is to respond in the medium that you first learned about the issue, especially in a crisis. Take it offline if it's negative and about a single issue... maybe your online critics are just looking for attention.

If Twitter is "so 2006", is location the tool of the future?
It may well be that location is the key to new social media. Location, and in particular new forms of geotagging and social media forums such as Foursquare, which are based on location, may well be the Twitter of the future.

Do personal and business mix online?
David says that in social networks, the demarcation is breaking down. We're learning more, online, about the people we do business with. This is translating to a completely different kind of relationship offline. In fact, it may well be the making of far stronger relationships offline as we learn more about the whole person, and interact with people on a different level.

Ghosting... and when it's OK.
David is a big fan of bringing in journalists to ghost social content. As he rightly points out, in many countries there are many capable journos keen to adopt another career. And of all people, journalists "get" story telling. Story telling is, of course, the thing that compels people to read our content. If we are not gifted narrators, then we can not buy attention online. And who has trained their entire careers to be good at telling stories? Journalists. Who are the people most likely to aspire, before they were university trained or spent years inside content-creation organisations? Journalists. So who better to ask to ghost your social content, with appropriate guidelines around tone of voice and content themes.

How come tweeting is OK, but SMSing is rude in a group meeting?
Perhaps the question here is more about when did tweeting become OK, when SMSing in a meeting has always been inappropriate. Well, the rise of social media has certainly changed a few things. While it's still rude to take a call in a meeting, or in a presentation, seminar, conference or many other group settings, it's no longer regarded as a social offence to tweet. That said, it might just be the digital natives that think it's OK, because I can think of a few baby-boomers who are still distinctly uncomfortable with that kind of behaviour. Regardless, we are all in presentations, seminars or conferences these days in which people are tweeting constantly.

I'm certainly one of them, and for those busy business owners and consultants who were at the David Meerman Scott meeting wondering how on earth they could develop an online persona when they had already run out of hours in the day? Well my personal solution is to pick a narrow theme, block time in my diary for it, and to have a very restricted Twitter strategy. In other words, I only tweet, when in actual fact I should probably be doing something else, like listening to the speaker. Still, I figure the speaker doesn't mind a bit of extra promotion, and I get to keep my notes in the cloud.

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