In my role, I straddle many of the marketing disciplines and whilst my main skills are in channel and communications, I have an affinity with the technical community – hence, why I love my role as a VMUG leader and most of the tweeps I follow are technical. Due to my job role and role in the community, I like to think I can see both (or all) sides of a situation.
Recently there has been much discussion over the VMware/EMC/Nutanix twitter dialogue and the resulting coverage on CRN and while I can see all sides of the story, the bottom line is you may preface your tweets, or your blogs, as “are my own, not my employers’, but if you’re tweeting “on duty” then you are a representative of your company and must ALWAYS be mindful of what you say, write or tweet. In fact, even in your own personal time you are still susceptible to being a company representative.
When I worked at VMware and was asked by a customer “Which partner should I buy ESX from?” I’d always point them to the partner page and say “it’s up to you.” I understand that in certain situations you can provide guidance, but in today’s social media world, sometimes you do need to keep your thoughts to yourself……
I remember a few years ago a very popular blogger questioned Gartner in a post, but, if I recall correctly, it wasn’t aggressive just challenging. His employer was immediately approached by Gartner and the outcome was the employer requested the blogger to take the post down. There was uproar – rightly so – in the industry and community – this was over stepping the employer’s mark. The blogger took his whole blog down for a while but am glad to say the situation fizzled out and his blog was up and running not long after – but with the Gartner post removed 🙁
To me, this highlighted that while you are an employee of a company, no matter what you say or do, you are viewed as a representative of your company and they expect you to act accordingly – whether you agree with them or not! Frankly, this is why I love being an independent consultant !
I’d like to refer to a recent Geek-whisperers podcast, where Amy, John and Matt discuss PR not understanding social. They billed this as “our most confrontational podcast yet.” PR/Corporate Communications’ role is sometimes like herding cats – they are responsible for the company’s communications and, sometimes, the social ‘fanatics’ make their job quite difficult. So, being on both sides of this fence, I can see both view but, for a change, I do not agree with Geek-Whispers as I believe anyone in PR/Corp Comms will think THEY have to train the social engagers, not the other way around 🙂
Back to the VMware/EMC/Nutanix twitter discussion. There were comments from the community in blog posts and on twitter that the journalist had ‘sensationalized’ the situation. I don’t agree with that view either. To me, he was ‘just doing his job’ and, while many times in a face-to-face situation some peeps are quite introverted, on twitter or in blog posts they are way more vociferous and animated! Sometimes, this can lead to CLMs (career limiting moves), so do beware dear reader!
I get asked by some of my clients about how to engage on social media and what guidelines should be put in place, what training is required, etc. My ‘recipe” for successful social engagement is simple:
1 part positivity
1 part passion
1 part honesty
1 part knowledge
Add a dash of humility
Blend together and at all times remember: if you represent a company, you have to be “on message” and if you’re not sure what the message is, or you have any doubt in your mind, don’t tweet it, blog it, or say it!