The Common Sense of Social Media

Are you old enough to remember the people who ran the corner shop? Do you even remember a time when there WAS a corner shop?

What about a milk man? Or a baker who home delivered?

These were people who knew your name. They knew where you lived. Their kids went to school with your kids. It was a time when communities weren’t something you engaged with online – it was something you lived in.

And yet for all the change that the shift to digital has landed on our shoulders – social media feels nostalgically utopian. It’s optimistic – often in the face of trolling behaviour and barely concealed bigotry. But it is also FAMILIAR.

In real world communities we long ago learned how to deal with unacceptable behaviour – and yet we seem to forget this in the digital domain. But if social media teaches us anything it is that we are accountable for our words and our deeds – for with every click, like comment and update, we leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that lead us (and others) home.

In the corporate world, our employees traverse the web like modern day, digital Hansels. There are breadcrumb trails emblazoned across the webservers of the world. Your brands, products and services trail along in the wake of the words and deeds of your employees.

Once upon a time, the shopkeepers knew where their customers lived. These days it is the other way around. Social media has turned the outside world-in and the inside world-out. And yet many organisations are hopelessly unprepared for the digital world that is already upon them. As this infographic from Mindflash shows, 76% of companies do not have a clearly defined social media policy.

The solution is simple. Get help from the outside and build capacity inside. It’s not a fairy tale and there’s no silver bullet. It’s just common sense in the service of the common good.