Who Can Use Social Media?

Who can use social media in your company’s name; everyone? only the PR team? trained and certified employees?

I was listening to Carla Buzasi talk about the launch of Huffington Post UK at the Ragan Social Media and PR Summit, Huffington Post uses bloggers and takes them seriously. They trawl through blogs, comments on their own site and twitter looking for potential writers for the site, they’ll link to a story on another source openly. It’s a change in the usual business model for news providers and it seems to be working.

In her presentation Carla Buzasi mentioned that BBC has a policy that you can only use social media on behalf of the company if they’ve already been using twitter for at least two months. My first reaction was that this seems reasonable. But the world at “Huff Post” is different, their approach is to tell people to “get in there and start”.

Cool you think, how brave. But here comes the kicker.

Buzasi went on to mention that in a job interview she’d asked the applicant whether she had any experience in social media – and ended the interview when the answer was no. So the people she’s hired are already social media savvy.

The BBC on the other hand has an established pool of employees, many of whom have no experience in social media. So a two month practice period is a low threshold to get people started. Similarly Dell uses a structured approach of providing policies, training and certification for its employees.

Who’s right? Well, they both are. If you’re a small company, with the luxury of hiring people with strong social media/comms skills the policy free (Buzasi mentioned “Don’t be an idiot” as being the extent of theirs) and go for it approach will work. If you’ve got a pool of employees who are experts in their own field then the approach used by BBC, Dell and others at the conference of building policies and training and working to build the expertise in the company makes far more sense.


Blogging for Companies

CM200812_blog1Blogging is maturing into a communications tool for companies, you know when a solid company like General Electric start blogging it’s entering the mainstream.

Or is it?

I was at a conference recently when a woman, who had mentioned the low-key, humble nature of her company’s business culture went on to lament that she couldn’t get her senior executives to blog. They were too worried that there might be a negative reaction. Company Blogs
Nuts about Southwest
Fast Lane – General Motors
GE Reports

The most successful individual bloggers have tons of personality, something to say, and chase controversy rather than fear it. Companies need to think the same way when setting up a blog.

Innocent and Southwest blogs both shine with personality, both are companies that have a certain amount of fun in their image and both have exploited that. Both use writers from around the company, rather than simply assigning a top exec. Both blogs are fun to read.

Dell sees blogging – including interacting with key blogs that follow the company – as an opportunity. They might have started a bit bumpily but their outreach to bloggers has earned them respect.

Fast Lane from General Motors shows great understanding of their target audience – they are talking to someone.

Of those listed above only GE Reports fails in my view. Lots of good video, but it reads as if it’s written by their corporate communications team, as an extension of their press function. But it’s early days yet, the blog is only two months old so perhaps it will develop.

If you want to start blogging at your company look for someone with personality, who has an interesting role, who has something to say.


This probably won’t be your executives whose days are filled with meetings, who may be bound by closeout regulations around the publications of figures, and whose most interesting tasks may be commercially sensitive.

Instead look into your sponsoring, marketing, product development or corporate responsibility teams.

POSTSCRIPT 20 September 2018

10 years later most of the blogs I used as examples are still running in some form, GE Reports has got a lot better, and GM Fastlane has died – but it existed from 2006 to 2015. I’m taking this as a sign that my analysis of which companies were blogging successfully was spot on.

images: keyboard and business man via pixabay