Dilbert and Social Media [WIN]

Ahhh, Dilbert. One of my favorite comic strips. When it comes to various topics and issues in the corporate world, Scott Adams always hits the nail on the head so squarely that all other nails in the universe quake in pain.

In the past couple of days, he’s taken on corporate policies toward social media. Licensing fees and a fear of getting sued (mainly the “getting sued” part) prevent me from posting any panel of the strip. Hit the jump for more.

But if you click here, you’ll be taken to Day 1 of the strip. Then click forward to catch the other two days when Adams covered—actually, “skwered” is the right word here—the issue (and did it well). By way of a teaser, though, my favorite quote from the little mini-series comes from Dilbert’s new corporate social-media manager:

“As the marketing manager for social media, my job is to use these two words a lot (referring to a plain PowerPoint slide that contains the words “Facebook” and “Twitter”).”

You’ll need to read the three days of the strip to “get” what’s coming next in this post. So go ahead, click away (the site for the strip opens in a new window, so don’t worry about losing this post). It’ll take all of a minute to read, promise.

Back? Good. Adams’ subject dovetails very well into a blog post I wrote two years back for a previous employer about social media and the enterprise. It was true then, and it is still true now—more so than ever, actually.

The crux of the post (Get it? “Crux?”) is below. I’ve filled it out a bit more for this post; not only to make it better, but to insure we don’t get hit with a Google penalty for duplicate content.

I’ve touched on this in the past. But I now have the quintessential blog post on when companies, organizations and the like should not even think about using social media.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write it. ReadWriteWeb did. Here’s the full article, but I’ll sum up the five times when “entities” (as opposed to plain ol’ ordinary folk) should not use social media:

  1. You’re in a high-ticket business: Your transactions are in the tens of millions of dollars. In this case, face-to-face and phone-call interactions work better.
  2. You fight with your employees: This can be a unionized company where management and labor are at odds, or where the employer/employee relationship is, um, strained.
  3. Management skepticism: If management has always been skeptical of its employees communicating with the public without the corporate filter, it sure as heck ain’t going to convince workers to use social media to start conversations with current and potential customers. My guess is that these companies are more likely banning employees from social media than encouraging them to use it.
  4. Strategic Vacuum: Don’t do social media just to “do” social media. You need a plan and objectives. You also need to listen to what’s being said in social media, and respond to it. Simple.
  5. Privacy and regulatory concerns: When you work in a business where what you say could land you in the clink, the big house, the jailhouse, etc., you really need to proceed with caution into social media. If at all. And if you do, you’ll need to scrape some lawyers from the bottom of the ocean to help you out.

Of the five points made, there’s two that your company won’t be able to help—the first one on high-ticket businesses, and the last one on compliance (insurance, financial firms, etc.). While one can still probably have social media in these cases, it’s much more difficult to do.

One group of companies that probably should think that they should be an exception, but are most definitely not, are the ones that hide behind the term compliance to only enforce overly burdensome social-media policies. I’ve had to deal with those companies, unfortunately. They just don’t get it.

The only line I disagree with in the overall post is:

Of course, having more Hollywood celebs sign up for Twitter couldn’t hurt either.

Here’s how I feel about tweeting celebs: Twitter is not a one-way broadcast medium—it shouldn’t be, anyways. Unless you have a specific Twitter account set up that pumps out content via an RSS feed (like CruxBridge Media’s Stogie’d properties do), you should be engaging with your audience, and following them to keep up with what they’re discussing. And ideally you shouldn’t hire an assistant to tweet for you.

Do you agree? Have you come up against over-bearing corporate policies on social media? Chat it up below.

Speak Up! Speak Out!