Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Reputation Management

August 31, 2011

One of the things I like about working with Ian McDonald is that I can throw him a curve ball and he doesn’t blink.

Instead of looking at me like I’m mad – which is the usual reaction – he understands what I’m talking about.

So I when I showed him the above diagram the other day and said “What is this saying to you?”, he said immediately, “You’ve been reading about the Romans”.

Indeed I have.

 “Rubicon” by Tom Holland to be exact.

From which I learned this fact.

To the Romans a man’s moral excellence and his reputation were exactly the same thing, and they had the same word for both: “Honestas”.

In social media people spend a lot of time honing and managing an online reputation. They present a polished face to the world

The “Nick Reynolds” on twitter is a version of me. How big is the gap between the “integrity” of the twitter me and the “reputation” of the twitter me? Or is there no gap?

Institutions employ teams of people to hone and manage their reputation and present a polished face to the world.  How big is the gap between the moral excellence of the institution (but which I mean its behaviour and moral codes) and its reputation?

Despite all the evidence before my own eyes to the contrary, I still cling (albeit wearily) to the belief that the best way to manage your reputation is to tell the truth.

The public seem to like the BBC for the fact that it tells the truth. Therefore it has to tell the truth about itself, even when that’s inconvenient. Telling the truth has to include allowing all sides of an argument to be heard, even when that’s inconvenient.

“Getting Social” 85FOUR Social Media Conference Video

July 10, 2010

Social media… there’s a lot of it about.

Social media conferences… there’s a lot of them too.

You can tell if a social media conference is going to be good by whether they’ve got easily accessible broadband wifi.

So I was very pleased when I turned up at 85FOUR’s social media conference a couple of weeks ago to find myself connected up to twitter in the wink of an eye.

Which meant we could tweet live, which is the mark of all social media gurus everywhere.

This was an excellent conference. Well organised, slick, well chaired, with good presentations and a high quality panel (including myself).

The video of the session is now online here. It’s been split into sections so you can skip to the presentations (Lucy Nixon’s is particularly good) and the panel discussions after each one.

The relevant linkedin discussions are here and here.

Thanks to the people at 85four (especially Kai) for inviting me.

Tell No One Beethoven Social Media Guidelines Economist

July 7, 2010

1. The rather good and smartly directed French film “Tell No One” is available until Saturday on BBC iPlayer.

2. The Proms Archive is in Beta. This list of Beethoven performances going back to 1895 inspires awe.

3. A gigantic list of different organisations social media policies for employees?! Bring it on!

4. Good supportive piece from the Economist about The BBC:

Go to any breaking news event, from riots in Iran to a combat zone in Afghanistan, and you will find the BBC, trying to get the story right. There is a cultural overlap with the British military: the same calm no-nonsense professionalism, just getting on with the job. They take accuracy and fairness seriously. They have some rogue presenters who over-egg some of their stuff, but their sins are marginal compared to the outright lies I have watched commercial reporters peddle. I remember watching a TV reporter intoning to a camera that he was on the front lines in Afghanistan when he was actually in the gardens of the house where the press pack was staying, about 10 miles from the front lines, and he was not from the BBC. I have worked alongside reporters who would invent interviews that had never happened, or plagiarise quotes from articles written months earlier: they were not from the BBC.

Corporate v social, or: how can the boss be “off message”?

June 19, 2010

Social media is about people. It’s about individuals and communities.

When communities form they are made up of a mass of identifiable individual voices (“the human shape”). Communities form spontaneously and when a group voice emerges it tends to be quite flexible – a voice which is constantly up for debate by the individuals in the community itself.

Organisations, companies and corporations are also groups of people. While sometimes they start small and spontaneous (e.g. “I’ve got a great idea – I’ll form a start up”) they tend to have fixed boundaries around purposes, money and results. And these fixed boundaries lead them to be more closed and controlled.

If it’s true that it’s difficult to have a meaningful relationship with more than 150 people than any organisation bigger than this is going to start have difficulties communicating to its staff.

One result of this is the corporate line: a fixed statement not designed for debate, usually anonymous, which is supposed to represent some kind of communal view of where the organisation is at the moment on a particular subject.

Therefore if organisations wish to use social media successfully for corporate communication they have to:

– adopt a more personal tone across the board

– give their employees more freedom to communicate directly about their work

– be more open and transparent – if corporate spokespeople were identified by name that would be a start

– accept that not all their employees at every level including bosses necessarily agree with everything their organisation is doing – and be very clear about how far they want this exposed in public, and if possible be more relaxed about it

– try not to put out “lines” as responses to social media activity

I’m very interested in the communications business. I think I work in it, kind of.

But when I go to conferences about corporate communications and public relations it strikes me that comms people often spend a lot of their time managing executives and trying to keep them “on message”.

But how can the boss be off message?

The boss surely is the message, he is the corporation, the organisation, or at least knows what the organisation is about and what he wants it to be.

If the boss is not the message or driving the message, or bosses cannot agree among themselves to have a level of “cabinet responsibility” i.e. we disagree in private but support each other in public, then a vacuum starts to emerge where the communications people start to decide what the organisation is about. But they don’t see the full picture. You would expect the boss or leader to know and understand more about the organisation or the thing his teams are doing than a Comms person does.

There are exceptions. Some people I know who work in the BBC for Comms know the organisation very well. So sometimes they act as a kind of conscience, not so much advising on how something might look but also saying “this looks wrong because it is wrong – so don’t do it”.

If there is too big a gap between the public message about the organisation (i.e. what the Comms person thinks) and what the organisation is actually doing then people usually spot this. And if this gap is exposed via social media channels or platforms then people will usually challenge this directly via their own social media. And if these are not responded to then this will be a negative experience for the user – their expectation is around dialogue not one way communication.

So if you want to use social media for corporate communication – you have to be less corporate.

Social Media: What Does “Good” Look Like?

January 22, 2010

“What does ‘good’ look like?” is a phrase I hear from time to time at work.

What good looks like in social media is “engagement”.

“Engagement” is a slightly pretentious word. One thing it means is that if someone writes a blog post with an opportunity to comment, then if you leave a comment then you kind of expect that they might comment back.

There were several good examples of “engagement” last week on the BBC Internet blog.

1. Andrew Bowden responding to comments on his post on iPlayer on Freesat

2. Matt McDonnell in comments on his post about Enhanced Search

3. A quick response post from Seetha Kumar reacting to comments on her post on E20

4. And last but by no means least – comment 817 by Andy Quested in the long running comments thread on BBC HD PQ. Andy still keeping his sense of humour:

“817. At 08:49am on 14 Jan 2010, Andy Quested wrote:
Dear Nick Mason (and all) I do try and answer all question and usually do.

Re 728/29, the AV sync signal is an interlace signal and will be displayed differently on different flat screens – there is no motion blur in the signal.

734 – Cranford looked very good – I am not sure what camera they used but it certainly met our HD delivery requirements and directors or directors of photography are free to choose any camera that does.

739 – not sure what I can say to this one at all!

800 – as for Survivors, I have to re-record due to “someone” deciding to override a clash and record a film on my PVR!”

I like and encourage people to respond to comments. I feel it gives the blog more influence and credibility.

But while I can point to good examples, I can’t really measure them. I can say “this is good” but I can’t say by how much, or whether the effort put in is worth it.

Any ideas for measuring “engagement” would be gratefully recieved.

“The etiquette of social media”

December 14, 2009

The following article was published last week in the BBC’s staff newspaper Ariel and appears with their kind permission. My original title was “Anti Social Media and the Human Shape”.

Social media. We love it.

I’m making a very good living out of social media myself.

But if you want to be “social” it’s about more than just starting a twitter account. For to be social is to be human. As Steven Fry wisely said recently twitter (and he could have easily said all social media) is “human shaped not business shaped”.

And human beings are strange creatures. Prey to emotions and irrational impulses and yet the only animal that worries “what’s the right thing to do?”

The ethics and morals of social media are still evolving. As everything and everyone goes online, what becomes important is how people behave, not what they’re called or what social tool they are using.

Recently two incidents have brought the ethics of social media and publishing online into sharp relief.

First Rupert Murdoch described the likes of Google as “parasites” and threatened to sue the BBC for using his newspapers stories. A few days later one of Rupert’s papers The Times reprinted a tribute to Edward Woodward from Edgar Wright’s personal blog. The trouble was they had not asked Edgar’s permission first, nor had they paid him. Edgar was understandably annoyed. So who’s the parasite now, cried the blogosphere?

Then the new Chair of the Press Complaints Commission seemed to suggest that the PCC could regulate blogs. There was a tart reaction from blogger Sunny Hundal. Sunny pointed out that when bloggers make mistakes they correct them prominently (one convention is to leave the text online but with a line through the offending section). However one of the long running complaints against the PCC is that some newspapers, when they are grudgingly pushed into admitting error, make sure that any corrections are buried well away from the original story and airbrushed out of history. “Thanks but no thanks. We behave better than you”, said Sunny to the PCC.

So if you think social media is just an easy way to get a “story”, think again.

One man’s story is another man’s personal tweet. Ransacking someone’s social media to get a news angle is like jumping into someone’s garden, stealing their flowers, shouting “I need this for something important” and then jumping back over the fence again. Bad behaviour, unethical even, and not BBC behaviour I would hope.

You’ll also have to behave well while those around you behave badly. Social media can an emotional and partisan thing. I’ve been called a parasite, and worse on message boards. Indeed only this week I was dubbed a “power mad cretin” by some anonymous wit who objected to the fact I removed his comment from the Internet blog. Fearlessness, honesty, humility, a sense of humour and a thick skin are all qualities you will need.

And these are not things you will learn on a training course, or through a new application on your iPhone.

Good luck and see you on twitter!

NB – on digging up the links for this piece I discovered that it looks like it wasn’t Rupert Murdoch who first dubbed Google parasites – it was in fact Robert Thomson. I stand corrected.

h2g2 interview

December 12, 2009

Just in case anyone is interested here’s an interview with me conducted by a very nice person from h2g2 for their “newspaper” The Post.

Nice people in h2g2. Very, very nice.

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

January 26, 2009

In what you might call my adventures in social media up until recently I’ve been a messenger.

I’ve been going around saying to important people “you really should use social media to do your work”.

This is not the easiest thing to try and sell to important people.

Sometimes the response I’ve had has been:

“I really support the openness agenda… but I couldn’t possibly blog”.

But now I’m in an interesting position.

I now have a small (and I do mean small) bit of the BBC’s social media editorial offer that I have some responsibility for. As well as being a messenger I also have the ability to make some decisions, to actually do something.

So I’m using social media to think and talk about things that might be done.

In other words I’m trying to talk to the community at the Points of View message board about how the boards might change.

The results have been mixed. We seem to have got off on the wrong foot and too often the conversation seems to have honed in on my behaviour rather than what you might call “the substantive issues”.  I’ve been accused of telling “blatant lies” a couple of times.

But it has been really interesting and I’ve learned a lot about message boards and how people behave.

And my mind has been changed.

It’s an experiment in openness. It’s true that BBC meetings sometimes have their minutes published. But I don’t think ever quite like this.

One thing I want to make sure is that if (and I do mean if) changes are made to the POV boards I don’t want people there to say “we didn’t know what you were doing”.

Users, Twits and Cameramen Under Fire

November 16, 2008

Three recent articles/blog posts which I thought had something in common.

1. This amusing attack on media twitterers from the Register, including a little unfairly, Rory Cellan Jones who is a very nice man, a shrewd BBC journalist and someone who has helped me at work.

But the more of themselves media people reveal, the more the public sees them as clueless, self-referential and narcissistic bunch so many of them are. And the more time the BBC spends on peripheral New Media wankery, the more people wonder why they’re paying a licence fee

2. Tom Scott on the money as always politely but firmly refuting the concept of “User Generated Content”.

As I sit here writing this post am I a user? If I am I have no idea what I’m using other than WordPress, and if I am then so must journalists be users of their CMS. I know one thing for sure, I don’t think of myself as a user of someone’s site and I don’t create content for them

3.This story from the Guardian.

I have been shot more times than I have been credited by the BBC,” he said. “In fact, I was shot once while filming with the BBC. The shooting, of course, made up a significant part of the news report. I was referred to as ‘our cameraman’, as if I was some damaged bit of equipment.”

He added: “We are all journalists who strive to be fair and accurate; it’s not an exclusive club. We are not second-class journalists because we choose to fund our own journalism.”

The idea that only a professional class of elite creatives can make content is looking shaky. And so is the notion that everyone else is either anonymously servicing their needs (like a cameraman) or just a passive “user” who might try and make something but could never come up to their high standards.

If this was ever true it’s less and less true now.

Now everyone can be creative. Not unreasonably they are asking both to be visible and to get credit (even if they don’t get paid) and respect.

I’ve always intensely disliked the phrase “user generated content”. For a start “user” always seems to suggest a drug addict. And in my cynical experience “UGC” is a phrase only used by media executives who use it for reassurance when they’ve never made any web content or participated in anything themselves.

We don’t think less of Olympic athletes just because they are amateurs.

Andrew Orlowski is right that media types can too easily get trapped in navel gazing.

It’s easy to dismiss social media as something that has no impact outside the media itself. The media probably do over estimate the importance of social media, and they certainly over estimate their own importance.

But this doesn’t mean that twitter is pointless. Simply that the media types who use it should get out more (or get more “friends” outside their usual groups).

But in a world where a couple got divorced because of something that happened in second life, there’s definitely something happening (the people involved are not digital media execs or Nathan Barleys).

Look beyond the tools at the human behaviour. People have desires and dream of perfect versions of themselves. People are driven by beliefs and ideals. If they are doing something they and the world sees as worthwhile, they should be given respect, not dismissed.

Talking Is Working

October 6, 2008

An email exchange with Euan Semple (a man to whom I owe a great deal) and a post on Suw Charman-Anderson’s blog, with Euan in top form, made me think.

And what I thought of was a new catch phrase.

“Talking is working”.

Because if you talk about your work using social media you are working.

And if you talk it makes your work better.

Talk is work.

And talk works.