For the past few weeks I have been talking with a group of people at a large global bank about doing a Twitterview (it is scheduled, and will be publicised closer to the date, so keep your pants on).
A lot of the talk was about bridging the gap between the gung-ho, Twitter-happy leader of the social media group and the corporate communications team. Basically, the social media head's attitude was 'ya, cool, let's do this tomorrow!' while corporate comms
said, 'Woooh there, can we have a quick, internal meeting, to get on the same page and decided how we are going to present ourselves to the media (via Twitter).'
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. 'What silly, old-fashioned corporate comms...holding a meeting, decided on a single Twitter identity...this is Twitter for Pete's sake, not the dead tree media!'
Well, far be it for a journo to come out in defense of corporate comms, but I felt a bit of sympathy and understanding for their view (and agree with it a bit). Let me tell you why.
A long time ago, I was told to 'cover the internet' by my boss. I booked a class at an 'internet cafe' in New York on 'how to use the internet and the world wide web' (dated the teacher for a bit - he was cute) and went out and bought several copies of
Wired magazine. I remember one article that I reprinted on a white board in the office - all the phrases, etiquette and acronyms that we all would need in order to navigate our way on to this new thing called 'the information superhighway'.
Although the way Wired described it, it wasn't a highway at all, it was a hidden B road that only the selected few, who met a narrow criteria of geek-chic credentials were given access to. You know what, for the life of me I can't even remember what
some of those 'phrases you will NEED to use the world wide web' actually were.
You know why? Because my Dad started using the Internet, directors of fixed income technology at US banks started using the Internet, and not very cool reporters started using the internet. The closed shop of computer programmers sending files over to each
other made way for AOL, which made way for Netscape and Internet Explorer, which made way for Google then Facebook, then Twitter et al.
The medium didn't dictate to the public how they should use it, the public took the medium and made up their own rules. Once sites like Twitter become everyday, no longer 'what the cool people do' and the silly, old-fashioned types start using it - paradoxically
it will become more powerful.
We are often told 'learn how to use Twitter or Twitter will use you'. But letting some of the '20th Century' types take a bit of a step back and 'look at how we are going to do this' shouldn't always be viewed as 'silly, old-fashioned' behaviour'.
I for one believe there are no rules on how to use social media - those rules are being written and rewritten right now - by the people that use it, whether they be cool guys in T-Shirts or fuddy duddies in corp comms.
(BTW - that is my quota for the decade for defending corp. comms - enjoy it while it lasts boys and girls)