I wasn’t going to write about the Alan Jones saga but the story resonates with so much of what I’ve written here recently that I can’t ignore it.
In this post last month “Facebook – complaint or corporate social responsibility cue?” I shared a reminder that listening to social media is a “litmus for community expectations and a source of ideas for good corporate citizenship”.
When citizens take to social media to admonish Alan Jones for his recent comments about the Prime Minister, it is not cyber bullying. It’s the community demanding a higher standard of behaviour from one of the nation’s most well-known broadcasters. When citizens ask businesses to stop advertising on that radio station, again, they are seeking a higher standard of behaviour and demonstration of their values and ethics. [And while some enthusiasts may have engaged in bullying tactics when it came to asking advertisers to pull the plug, their behaviour was theirs to own, and focusing on them alone is a diversionary tactic. A lot of the anti Alan Jones campaign was measured, reasonable and valid].
This ‘online activism’ has been happening for years already and as long as social media continues to be a tool for people to 1) easily congregate and vent via a smartphone or keyboard and 2) make things happen, this use of social media won’t go away.
If you’re a corporation, be prepared.
Look at how you conduct your business, who your partners are, your impact on the environment, how you treat your employees and so on.
Listen to what people are saying on social media: monitor the internet for key search terms related to your business, products, managers and competitors. Don’t ignore complaints that have been dogging your business for years. Get on the front foot and do the right thing.
But remember, too, that social media doesn’t cause activism. It’s no use wanting to give Facebook a kick or wishing that people weren’t allowed to tweet anonymously. If there’s an underlying issue with a business practice or an individual’s behaviour, it exists regardless of whether social media is around.
Also, people have the ability to voice themselves online regardless of whether you’re using social media officially. There are countless examples of people establishing Facebook Pages or other online spaces to complain about a company. They don’t need your company to be present: they’ll do it on their own. So shying away from officially using social media won’t mean you’ll never be the subject of an online campaign.
Social media merely shines a light on what’s already rotten.