How do I shut down Twitter?

The mere question rings alarm bells.

Moreso when reports out of the recent HMV experience suggest they were the words of HMV’s marketing director as HMV’s official twitter account was hijacked by disgruntled staff.

I’m no lawyer, but there is a reason internal communications are structured and handled differently than its external counterpart. There are legal, political and economic repercussions for businesses, hence why corporate messages are often ‘crafted’ and ‘approved’.

Now before you get all indignant about ethics and freedom of speech, it is timely to remember these are common, respected practices and behaviours of business men and women (of all ages) within the global business community.

However, for the rest of corporate Australia (and elsewhere) now is not the time to look down your nose at HMV management or their disgruntled staff and keen tweeters (I’m sure HR and engaged lawyers will cover that debate sufficiently).

It is however, time for management the world over to do an audit of strategic web-based marketing communications operations, focusing on process, procedures and governance.

Not sure where to start?

1.Start by acknowledging a title doesn’t determine superior knowledge. While it should reflect experience, in the constantly evolving world of ICT communication (embodying web-based, digital and social communications) a few conferences, or campaigns, an expert, it does not you make. (Not sure why, but Yoda seemed appropriate all of a sudden). Most companies are placing juniors in charge of digital communications (web and social media). I cringe every time a first or second year student seeks guidance for a job interview in social media which starts with: ‘how do I use it for business’ only to tell me the following week they are now the social media manager!

The savvy traditional marketing communications ‘experts’ (a term I cringe at whenever I hear it) are ‘dipping their toe in’, and playing it safe by applying the age old ‘suck and see method’ based on hunches, recommendations and gut instinct. When in doubt, this is a sensible, albeit soon to be dated approach (especially, if they’re outsourcing it!). More on that later…

2. Ask yourself, do I know who we (brand/ business) are?
That’s right, take it back to basics and ask yourself point blank, do I know who we (brand/ business/ team) are? You’d be stunned by how many successful business practitioners (and their staff) have NO IDEA how to answer this question comprehensively and succinctly.
If you’ve just discovered you’re one of them, then you have you’re opening question to your senior management team brainstorm right there.

3. Where are your team members in the great cycle that posits their professional life with your business/brand life cycle. Are they complimentary? Where are the gaps? Opportunities for growth? How and where can you best provide the necessary supports to lift your team as individuals as well as, a well-oiled marcomms machine to support your business…?

4. If you’re one of the few who answered question #2 with relative ease, then congratulations. You’re off to a great start. As the lead executive, ask yourself how you communicate down through your team, department, business and across key target markets and media. Be sure to identify the key points of variations within those communications, your teams’ response (as individuals and a group) and where they may be improved upon.

This step takes time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve realised you’re moving a littler slower all of a sudden…

As senior leaders, this is actually our FIRST real step in the process. It’s the one that exposes whether we have the entrepreneurial mindset that enables agility in strategic thinking and multi-channel campaign design. Thinking that drives market-leading specialists. It also enables clear aims, researched objectives and practical processes to be successfully married to the prerequisite sense and intrinsic response.

This is skill that in acquisition, is challenging and demanding in the most honest of ways. Don’t worry, if it doesn’t come straight away. It’s a skill that develops overtime.

A process that enables you as a professional to reflect on how you can better contribute to the success of your team and your business through applying thought leadership to management practice. A process that does not include (at any time) the question: How do I shut down anything.

Why? Because you saw the potential problem before it had the chance to arise.

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