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Social Media needs to work harder to show people its potential

Posted on: January 4, 2010

Dear 2010 – phishing, scams and poor service from corporates

My first task of the New Year was to block any possible damage from a phishing exercise.  I received an email from “Virgin Media” saying my direct debit had bounced and that I should login to their ebilling to sort it out. I did.  But didn’t reset my details.  I went first to my bank site to check what was happening then looked at the email more closely.  I followed up an odd looking html address marking the place of a blocked picture and discovered this was a scam.  The owner of the website address had posted the details on 30 December 2009.  I was disappointed that Virgin hadn’t warned its customers and set about changing my passwords.  What a mission. I’ve still to drive to the next town to change the passwords at my global bank, locally.   You know who I am talking about.  The local branch is good but their global IT sucks.  What would happen if I was 1000 miles away from the local branch as in my last billet?

Social Media: at least we acknowledge #So.ME

With this dismal start to 2010, I calmed down with a cup of coffee and read blog posts with a jaded eye.  Straw men.  Blither and blather. Eventually, I got my head in order and replied to a post on Made in Many.  I think my reply will be incomprehensible to them but it may make perfect sense to people from turbulent places.

  • Social Media is a revolution.
  • It perhaps was not a deliberate revolution but those who wanted social change are chortling.
  • The old guard and the old guard who have got left behind are fretting.
  • The old guard who are fretting are wishing away the changes to communication and pecking orders.

So far, so ordinary or so “dittohead” to use Social Media slang.  This is where experience of living in a place that changed rapidly and often helps.

Social Media and Wars of Liberation

There are plenty of times in life when change is discontinuous.  We may have seen the change coming. We may not.  But discontinuous change is by definition abrupt and more importantly changes who are the winners and losers in life.

We are quite happy with change when we are winning.  We are obviously distressed when we are losing.

What do we do with people who are distressed by change?

First, let me tell you what does happen.

  • They “get it” and join in
  • They resent it and try to use their residual status to negotiate the change away (they try to blackmail us).
  • They resent it and “go underground”
  • They exit or withdraw
  • They are ejected.

We notice the second group and we are eventually bitten by third.  The fourth and fifth might cost us through their loss.

Let’s deal with the second group, as they were the subject of the Made by Many post.

If this had been a War of Liberation, we would have deliberately set out to change the pecking order. We would have had little sympathy for the losers but might have pragmatically included them in a policy of reconciliation ~ not because we loved them, you understand but to mitigate the cost of groups 2 to 5.

The parallels between social media and Wars of Liberation

Social Media was not a deliberate War of Liberation but it has similar revolutionary effects.  The old guard is being displaced. They could join in but for the most part they refuse.  Should we just ignore them?  Should we chide them for their surliness?

I don’t think so.

What should we do about people with high status who are trying to “wish away” change?

I think there is no going back. Social media has introduced a more democratic world.  Not a perfectly democratic world but a more democratic world.

I won’t be blackmailed by the old guard who refuse to use social media and use their old positions to try to block change.

But I will lay out a clear road map and tell them

  • How to take part
  • How they will benefit
  • Make them feel welcome

The issue is inclusion

I won’t be blackmailed. But I will put myself out to welcome them ~ because that is the issue. They have to come to terms with the new pecking order.  That is unavoidable.  And they will do that faster when they feel welcomed and accepted.

But there will, sadly, be those who persist in undermining or feel they have to “leave”.  We can only regard each of those as our failure to show them possibilities.  We can only regard each as a failure to show them possibilities.

Social change is never pretty.  And those who lead it should budget for side-effects.  They don’t have to put up with blackmail. They do have to budget for showing people the way (or spending money on defense).

You see, this is a common story. It’s happening as we speak in other arena too.

Social media is a peaceful revolution. But it is a revolution.  We have choices.  Go with history. Or don’t.  Lead others. Or don’t.  When we confront history we get hurt.  When don’t help confused people understand, we get hurt.

Social Media needs to do the work of bringing people into the fold

We need to get organized.  We cannot leave people behind.  Yes, it is their choice how they use social media but have we truly shown them how and assured them of their welcome.  Not their old status but the freedom to interact on the same terms as everyone else.

It is too expensive to leave people behind. We have to try again. And again. And when we are tired. Let someone else try. Maybe that is all that is needed to let the light burn in their eyes.

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2 Responses to "Social Media needs to work harder to show people its potential"

Hi Jo

Unfortunately we get phishing e-mails targeting our customers on a daily basis – such is the nature of being one of the largest providers around, people know we have lots of mailboxes!

On a more positive front, we’re in the process of moving our customers over to the Google platform for their e-mail which includes significant improvements to the phishing protection our customers get.

Hope that helps.

Alex

Alex Brown
Internet Product Management
Virgin Media

We look forward to an improvement.

Isn’t what you are saying is tantamount to a bank saying sorry you got held up in the bank – you know robbers just come here because we are big?

You could easily have blocked that incoming emails from the source into Virgin. You had over 5 days to do it.

Have we been consulted on the move to Gmail? Did I miss that email?

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