The toughest part of my job is explaining to executives that they’ve been ripped off. From last week’s meeting with the Executive Director of a nonprofit (who is paying $2800 per year to “maintain” her static-html website) to a local company’s gorgeous, flash-based (yet SEO-inept) website which requires a complete overhaul, it’s clear that most C-levels are clueless when it comes to understanding their corporate communications expenditures.
Yesterday, I stumbled upon yet another sad example to prove my point. For the seventh day in a row, I had been notified that “Scott Morris” was following me on Twitter:
The picture above indicates one of two things: either “Scott” suffers from TIFS (twitchy index finger syndrome) or he’s using an automated bot to scam-up his follower count–a strategy commonly used by pornographers and Viagra dealers.
But “Scott’s” profile didn’t contain the sleaziness I was expecting. Instead, it contained a link to a SoCal-based online medical community. Something just didn’t add up.
That’s when it hit me. Had I just found yet another example of a corporate social media strategy left in the hands of an intern or a drunk at the party? So, I called the company to find out.
My call went immediately to voicemail, so I left a message, asking Scott Morris to return my call. A few minutes later, the president of the company, a physician, called instead.
“Thank you for calling,” I said, “but I was looking for Scott Morris.”
The doctor explained that he didn’t know a Scott Morris.
“Well, someone by that name is Twittering on your company’s behalf,” I said.
“I don’t know how to use Twitter,” he admitted, explaining that someone else does it for him. He then began asking questions about his company’s Twitter activities. As I explained my suspicions, I could hear the concern in his voice. He thanked me for bringing the matter to his attention and promised to look into it.
About a half hour later, he called with an update.
“I checked and discovered that one of my marketing people was doing this. I told them to stop.” He also decided to take over the twittering from now on–a decision that I applauded him for.
The lesson of this story cannot be understated. When it comes to corporate reputations, Social Media channels are quickly becoming more powerful than traditional media. Until C-levels understand the true impact of social media responsibilities, they’ll continue to blindly put their online reputation into the hands of the unprepared.