Digital community engagement for Australian enterprise

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Cyber insurance companies are now taking a clear eyed view of the real risks

Lloyd’s of London approximates that average cloud service [Cyber] events of varying severity range from $4.6 billion in total damages for a “large” attack to $53.1 billion for an “extreme” one. In the vulnerability example, the average costs range from $9.7 billion for a large event to $28.7 billion for an extreme one. Lloyd’s notes that much of the damages would not be covered by insurance. Only around 15 percent of damages would be covered in the cloud example and 7 percent in the vulnerability example.

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Community organisations provide a template for social media engagement


Last week I wrote about why PR departments should lose control of social media publishing. At the recent CeBit conference Harper Reed explained how the Obama campaign raised average $65 each from 2.6 million donors on-line and won the election by targeting 15 million persuadable voters in the marginal states. This took hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers who tweeted, blogged, face-booked, tele-marketed and door-knocked their way to victory. Somehow they managed the conversations and messages effectively, filtering out bad team comments and fixing occasional meltdowns before they went viral.

Closer to home, within the Salvation Army in Australia, posting and tweeting is not restricted to a few PR specialists. Officers use Facebook widely to run day-to-day church operations and even to co-ordinate disaster response. It seems the organisation at large has learnt to work effectively under HQ guidelines on roles, responsibilities and restrictions for all officers, employees and volunteers when using Social Media to specifically communicate Salvation Army messages.

Generation X & Y run their lives via Facebook and Instagram rather than telephone or email. You would think companies selling to them would learn to speak their social media language. Obviously there are skills, training and governance issues here but, when it all boils down, businesses have not confronted the training and internal accountability required to meet their customer’s preferences. My sense is that nimbler on-line businesses will accept this challenge and we will see rapid generational change, as customers desert hide-bound companies and engage where they can be heard in their favourite medium. We need to look more closely at the success of community organisations to find templates of effective social media engagement.


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Why PR departments should lose control of social media publishing

Managers are scared of social media and the damage it can do to their brand. They see, or worse experience, the horror stories. One false tweet and the world comes crashing down around your ears. The funny thing is that their sales and call-centre people speak on behalf of the brand every minute on the day. It’s just that only one customer at a time hears them. It’s not amplified by social media.

As a result the PR team runs most corporate social media efforts. They try to make messaging personal but they are inherently corporate creatures. Meanwhile the real business of the company is largely transacted in person-to-person sales.

While all this is going on the customers themselves are hungry for personal contact. They are deeply engaged in social media, seeking information and sharing their thoughts and intentions while seeking approval from peers. The same people are often looking for personal service from retailers and may become loyal to a store or brand just because they like and trust a sales person. In fact getting the right balance between personal service and uncomfortable pushiness is just as critical in both one-on-one sales and on-line media. Why wouldn’t it be?

What if the natural role of social media in business is to simply extend one-on-one selling on-line? Maybe be the social media horror stories are simply exposing a problem hidden in face -to-face conversations. In a world hungry for service maybe the role of individuals needs training and empowerment rather than censorship. It could be time to let sales staff into the conversation with customers instead of locking them out via company communication policies. If so a radical re-engineering of engagement software platforms is required. There is a huge opportunity for companies to empower micro social media engagement but how do they unlock it?

I’ll be sharing ideas on this over my next few posts…