Like Mr. Quixote swinging at windmills, companies continue to go down the futile path of trying to control social media.
A couple years ago I wrote a post advocating for the Piggly Wiggly approach to social media.
If you’re not familiar with the Piggly Wiggly, the company’s founder Clarence Saunders invented the concept of the self-serve grocery story. U.S. Patent No. 1,242,872 captures the invention in all its glory (and you thought Amazon’s one-click checkout was innovation).
At the time, everyone thought Saunders was crazy, that allowing customers to pick their own groceries from the shelves instead of ordering from a single counter would be a license to steal.
But a “radical” outcome came when the concept was put to the test with working stores.
People lived up to the trust.
That’s what I mean by applying a Piggy Wiggly mentality to managing social media. Rather than take on the Quixotic quest to control these digital channels, companies should recognize that a decentralized model best serves the cause. Employees will live up to their trust.
On the other end of the spectrum, nothing annoys — I’m being kind with the verb — employees more than Big Brother coming down with a heavy hand.
A colleague recently forwarded a company-wide email that I’ve captured below. I’ve eliminated the name of the company to protect the guilty (and keep my colleague from having to update his resume).
Subject: FW: Social Media Access
As we move to the XXXXXXXX Enterprise Network, there will be some limitations in social media access.
In general, access to You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, etc., is blocked. Users can access their account at XXXXXXX to request access if such access is required. It may be a good idea to get requests in before we complete the change. Once a user submits a request, tell your managers to watch for an approval email.
Feel free to contact IT if you have any questions.
You can’t make this stuff up.
I particularly liked the line, “Users can access their account to request access if such access is required.” Whoever wrote this copy must have Franz Kafka on his/her nightstand.
Eventually, the company will figure that it can’t control social media. In the meantime, if I ran a 7-Eleven within walking distance of its facility, I’d keep an eye on those IT guys.