The risky business of social media – 2nd Speaker

Thoughts By 8 years ago


Peter Kent – Porter Novelli

Peter Kent describes himself as ‘media agnostic’, and despite the current fad for social media, he believes a mix media approach will always be the most succesful. Peter discussed the risk of entering into social media conversations with examples of recent work Porter Novelli have undertaken.

He opened his talk with an example of viral social media, The Keyboard Cat. It refers to a  Youtube video released in 2004 where a man ties strings to a cats paws, and maneuvers them to give the illusion of the cat playing a piano. The video was tacky and experienced little exposure at the time. It found itself re-invented when youtube.

  • Viewer on Youtube would watch a video which attempted to be cleaver or funny, but wasn’t
  • They would download the video and attach the The Keyboard Cat to the end of it
  • Finally the edited video would be re-broadcast to Youtube

This became a viral fad. No one could have predicted that someday the Keyboard Cat would be popular, but it graced the screens of millions when Brad O’Farrel used it on his prime time talk back show when a comedian would present poor material. This emphasised that there is no control over social media, or what will be successful.peterk-small

Peter used the analogy of being the only person in high school who hadn’t had sex. All the others were talking about it and claiming how great it was. This is similar to social media, and the groups who are saying its fantastic either haven’t done it, or don’t understand its fundamentals.

Where companies miss out is when they don’t understand social media’s core principles. Its like being invited into the privacy of someone’s lounge room, not participating and just watching and even occasionally flashing a banner promoting a brand. Not very inviting for other in the room who would be unlikely to invite you over again. Even though the conversation is online, the message crosses over to the real world, when you discourage a brand in your virtual living room, it transgresses to the real world, and other are influenced. The question is who you manage this as a brand.

Its very difficult to silence people in the traditional sense using courts and defamation. Word spreads too quickly and over various geographic locations. In Australia, is it possible to order a web hosting company in Latvia to remove content? asks Peter, the answer is likely no. It is important to hear what is being said, and manage it. Participate in the conversation as an individual, not as a corporation, people may invite you into their living room.

Within a organisation Peter explained that policies are important to guide how staff interact with social networks and what is appropriate. Policies should be broad, flexible and apply to staff, suppliers, management and contractors. Being broad is critical as specifying a network such as Twitter or Facebook would require policy to change quarterly if not monthly. Generic terms should be used which capture the essence of interaction, regardless of the platform be it email, web or social media.