A senior manager at a major Swedish company goes for his annual meeting with the CEO and C suite to discuss how things are going with the company.
The senior manager â€“let’s call him Peteâ€“ talks excitedly about how the social media marketing initiative his division has running for the last 8 months has been a massive success; how it’s improved customer relations and staff relationships. Pete is positive about what the Net and online communication can do and wants the go-ahead to invest in similar initiatives.
The CEO listens interestedly then says, “I’m not on Facebook. In fact, we had to discipline a staff member in another office for using Facebook inappropriately. That was a big problem. I don’t really like Facebook and all that social stuff. It’s not really what our company is about. In fact, we’re going to limit access to sites like Facebook on the company intranet from next month.”
The conversation continues and Pete is given an annual raise because, well, “We’re really pleased with the work you’re doing”. The CEO has heard that Pete is doing a great job from his line manager.
Afterwards Peter feels a bit despondent. The CEO of the company that he’s working for doesn’t get social media. In fact, he’s actively against it. Pete’s worried both he and his office will fall behind the digital and social online revolution if they don’t continue to participate.
Although Pete’s team have improved sales, customer service and group cohesion in his division having introduced social media, the CEO was not convinced.
Sure, he’s pleased that profits are up and savings on traditional advertising have gone down. But the CEO isn’t prepared to bring in a social media specialist. He’s not prepared to fund training in social media. And he’s definitely not interested in exploring what social media can do for the rest of the organisation.
“You won’t catch me on YouTube,” he jokes, and the rest of the C suite chuckle in unison. “We’re too busy concentrating on our plans for expansion,” he tells Pete. “We’re opening up new offices around the country and all our spare budget is going into that. We haven’t got time to play with the internet.”
Real World Case Studies
I’ve smoothed out the edges here and left out the real-world details that would identify the people involved, but this scenario was told to me over lunch recently by a friend who wanted my advice.
“Is a company that doesn’t get the Net or social media worth sticking with?” he wondered. “Especially if my team have been able to point to specific examples of how it’s benefitted us.”
I paused to think this and said something about: “At least you had the freedom to implement something in your division. Your success was really great.”
But the whole thing left me bothered: Do you stick with a company where top management aren’t interested in exploring what the Net, and social media (or social communications) can do to benefit employees and customers?
I guess, ultimately, I think that a company restricted in their thinking like this, and not open to exploring what is really a paradigm shift in B2B communications, would force me to start looking for another job. Because sooner or later they’re going to have to get with the program.
Just as shop-keepers on street corners had to change to cope with the arrival of malls and hypermarkets, businesses have to adapt to the way the Net is changing the way we communicate and do business. Just because you’re getting by today without it, doesn’t mean you will tomorrow.
So I’d like you to help me out here. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this!
- Do you stick with a company where the CEO just doesn’t get the Net and how it’s affecting business and industry?
- Do you try and educate them? Do you carry on regardless, because they don’t really know about it?
- Or do you move on?
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