Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Shocking Social Media News

Not since Captain Renault turned to Rick and proclaimed he was shocked, shocked to learn there was gambling in Casablanca's top night spot has there been a more over-blown (and thus, more misunderstood) notion that companies are spying on each other through social media.

Reeeeeeeally? Why the same people who are going to vet your job candidacy by trolling through your Facebook posts, assess your Tweets and judge you by the parties you attend on Flickr . . . they'd never.

Douglas MacMillan writing for Bloomberg News last month gave a great snapshot into the brave new world of corporate espionage.

If you had any doubt, couple of weeks ago AP had a nice tech angle story on how companies are using social to learn what's up with both clients and opponents.

"Social media is a new data-abundant source that is here to stay," says one consultant.

"Twitter can give you a play-by-play about a person's activities," said another. "A log of those posts are time and date stamped."

The article goes into the usual flubs on letting go the occasional secret -- that's obvious -- but it gives away something else. Something you need to consider in your own social media strategy:

"You can actually feel yourself inside that company -- what's happening, what's the morale of the employees, how the business is doing, where top management go on vacation, did the CEO have a fight with somebody. It's a glass house."

So, things getting difficult at Enormous State University for Coach Jim Bob -- not the time for him to crawl back inside his shell OR to start oversharing to seem more personable.

C-level suite holders think they can hold in bad news or negative trends? Just watch the rank-and-file -- are they suddenly happy or sad across the board.

Back in the Cold War, they called it signals intelligence. Listening to everything the Ruskies did, and gleaning tone, direction and mood. Before the networking of the world, you needed lots of big satellite dishes, some mirror front mysterious office buildings, a few ominous three- and four-letter names and toss in a couple of orbiting eyes.

Today, a 4-figure a month subscription to a service and a handful of interns with tuned up dashboards and Tweet Decks, you're in the spy business. Reputation.com is just one of many -- frankly, by being public may just reveal themselves as the least effective. Worry more about the nameless agencies who specialize in "data mining."

In politics, it's opposition research. In college sports, it's getting recruiting advantage. In strategic communications, it's assessing the market.

And, I might add, anyone out there who tells you they don't have a dirt-bag file on rival schools filled with such items, that hasn't made lots of screen captures of unfortunate moments that may or may not have since been deleted, well, they are naive or lying.

Take a moment or two to consider how your social media profile may telegraph your next move. Not in the obvious way like Scott McClellan, the subject of MacMillan's story did. What did it say when at two critical peak points of the 2010 football season that the usually busy Twitter feeds of two notable SEC schools got very, very quiet. They weren't just hunting for wabbits -- they were scared to talk. In it's own way, doesn't that tell the world what they want to know -- or at least you are giving the impression that whatever worst thought the world may have of your organization.

Whistle through the graveyard. Hide in plain sight. Act as if.

Choose the cute little cliche of your liking -- and live it.

Those who are watching, reading and listening, are going to infer. Give them one less thing.

1 comment:

Chris Syme said...

Talk about going dark in a crisis--I think Chris Freet at Miami has done a great job of keeping the info level flowing when Miami was under the microscope. He never let up on Twitter, tweeting out his usual amount of Miami football info. Well handled, I was impressed. I think there's a case study hiding in there somewhere.