Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Social Media and The Future Winds of Change

There's two aspects to social media that I want to highlight today.  The first is something that some people will already have thought about, especially those with a technically minded outlook on the future.   The second is something that likely hasn't shown up on corporate radars yet - but will have to be confronted at some point in the next five years or so.

First is Respect and Social Media.
To some it may be common sense that corporations need to respect social media.  Given that the masses have a voice and can communicate amongst each other as well as with the corporations themselves in a public forum, it behooves these corporations to a) embrace Social Media and b) respect it.

What we see right now in social media is often the equivalent of what we saw in the old Internet, where it wasn't so much of a "two-way communications" means as it was a "broadcast" means.  Corporate websites were often nothing more than an online billboard for their brand or product/service.  

The same often occurs on Facebook and Twitter - but what we are seeing are corporations changing their stance on this, because the if they don't adapt, then the public rips them to pieces for not respecting Social Media as a valid communications tool.

The second item I want to point out is corporate data and the means to access it.
It is invisibly leaking onto the Internet at a very rapid rate.  Whilst big brands have been busy pushing their brand to the punters, they've taken their eye off the ball as to what transformation is taking place.  Information that used to be private to the corporations is now accessible to the masses, if they feel inclined to gather it up.

Let's imagine I want to find out what the biggest problem with some 2010 version of a car from Ford was.  In the old days, only Ford would know the answer to the question, but now I can set up a Facebook page and simply ask the public to submit their opinions… Now the information is public and everyone can see the results - including the competition.

Another example might be that I want to enquire about the quality of animal handling at my local airport.  Whereas in the old days I could only see a public facing customer enquiries department for things like this, now I can go on LinkedIn and find a baggage handler and ask them directly to show me photos of anything that's wrong.

This leakage of corporate information is speeding up quickly.  After all, how often do you think people with a smartphone log in to a service like LinkedIn or Google+ and allow these services to automatically slurp up photos of sensitive work areas, or share contact information that includes private corporate directory contacts so as to help the person find his or her friends, without thinking about the need to keep things separate?

Do you think the average corporation is up to speed on the scale of this issue?

When this second issue finally breaks into the collective conscience in a big way, I think we can expect some interesting "fireworks" as the battle over Social Media goes from a public forum that corporations also participate in, to a forum that the corporations want to control so they can police this information. 

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