The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Saving Canute

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The social media world is not all sunshine. The Wikipedia blackout earlier this week demonstrates the dichotomy of the Groundswell vs The Law. We could add to the chargesheet the allegations today by Neil Warnock that Twitter comments contributed to his sacking from QPR http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/16641490.stm, breaching of superinjunctions by Twitterers, manipulation of reviews by professional complainers on TripAdvisor or product endorsement by celebrities…the list goes on. And these provide easy targets for the sceptics. What can we do to counter the argument and what can we do to address the problems in our strategy?

I think that it is too easy to blame the messenger. Football managers have blamed former players and the Press for their demise in the past. National newspapers have run the risk of legal action in the pursuit of the truth. There have been “payola” and product placement scandals in the past. All Social Media allows is a louder voice and a larger audience – it has shifted the balance of power. What is often overestimated is the influence of  the message by assuming a naive and unquestioning crowd. We know that there will be some who take the message – fashion and newspapers are all about opinion and setting or following the trend – but the social media user is increasingly savvy. They are also inherently benevolent: alongside the desire to share is a healthy dose of openness and honesty.

There is undoubtedly a feature of the Web 2.0 which expects to have things for free (or more precisely to pay for it in different ways). This is highlighted by the enormous success of open source software such as Firefox or Linux which have developed due to the desire for software users to be free of the limitations of cost and speed of development. They have shown that the emperor is naked – there can be a different way. Sadly, the disreputable element is also evident in the copyright challenges which were at the heart of the Wikipedia blackout and the Megaupload.com closure yesterday. Yet again though it is too easy to blame the messenger – copyright theft happened long before Web 2.0 – yet again the technology has only made things easier. However, what it also highlights is the consumer demand is changing. Many people have thrived on the development of Linux – both suppliers and consumers. The big losers are the vendors of proprietary operating systems and hardware. The entertainment industry is learning. I think they are right to clamp down on blatant theft but they are also lobbying for laws which are far too draconian and could unintentionally catch some innocent bystanders in the process. Already companies like Spotify, Netflix, and Lovefilm have understood the groundswell and are developing products which more fit the lifestyle and expectations of the Web 2.0 generation – and make money at the same time.

The right strategy for dealing with the negative is to understand the underlying motivations. You can stand Canute-like on the shore waving at the sea…until you drown.

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Written by greencontact

January 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

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