Monday, September 10, 2012

Social Media Policy? What the hell is that? – Chawm Ganguly

This was a couple of years back. A fairly senior employee in a MNC I was associated with had a tiff with his immediate boss. Matters came to a head and the gentleman was forced to leave. Not wanting to leave without extracting his pound of flesh, he wrote a long, damaging mail, replete with juicy details about his boss’ perversions and even hinted at corrupt practices. He then anonymously posted the letter, from an unsuspecting colleague’s desktop to the entire company database. You can jolly well imagine the fallout.

Disgruntled employees bad mouthing employers or bosses is more of a rule than an exception. But the way they have been “empowered”, thanks to the social media revolution is frightening. Today, I can “tweet and blog and dance in joy / for I have spread the hate words about Kill joy” with chances that Kill joy (the management) won’t even know about it, till I am long gone.

Today most young employees are not only extremely media savvy, but are also wired to the teeth to boot. Sadly, Corporate India has been left far behind these tech junkies. The result is catastrophic. Employees are spitting venom about their bosses, their employers – ridiculing company policies and sharing company information that has no business to be in the public domain. That too with gay abandon. And those that need to hit the panic button are either busy napping or are too callous to even spot the trend.

This is happening as a wide swath across Corporate India is either ignorant or are deliberately keeping their eyes closed to the phenomenon called “Social Media”. Besides, stingy as they are, they do not want to open another expenditure stream for tackling the menace (?). “What harm can a lowly employee’s post do? How many people do he / she know in any case? Of the ones who actually read such posts, how many will actually believe them? Even if they do, what harm will it make to the company? Don’t tell me we have to be in facebook to sell metallurgical coal – that’s ridiculous!” Were the common refrains when in broached the topic to a number of movers and shakers of the industry. Ignorance indeed is bliss!

I dared not go deeper into Social Media Policy. Or for that matter the efficacies of having one. Why waste time with people who are unwilling to cross even the next frontier after the mandatory website that is not even updated? But unknown to them there’s a storm that is brewing – one that has the potential of forcing a paradigm shift. A game changer - that will force us to rethink about how corporates will communicate and engage their target audiences in the future. Traditional media will certainly not be enough and our Corporates will have to learn the new rules of engagement.

How it is done? Who can help you win in the social space? How can you reign in errant employees? What do you do when an irritated customer goes ballistic? How do you win friends and influence people in the social media space?  How can Linked-in help you to fight attrition? How can you tweet into your employee’s heart? How can you stumble upon to eternal truths and Google plus it to make your brand achieve cult status?

Ha,ha! I’m not telling buddy.  It can be done. And the sooner you do it the better. Else, a fate worse than the one that befell the dinosaurs, awaits you. I am waiting for a negative Kolavari – a venom laced employee / customer post that will go viral and shake Corporate India out of its slumber with the rudest of the jolts. Till then I am willing to sit on the fence. The time will come and I will be there to pull you guys out. But for going further, you have to show us the moolah! Social media insights do not come free, you know! 

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