Failure to Tweet

Doug Brockway
Doug Brockway
Doug Brockway is the founder and Managing Principal for Advance Consulting. He blogs on IT management topics at Working on Step 2.

The world got turned on its head the other day when a man was arrested for failing to tweet. According to the Associated Press, Justin Bieber's manager was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance. Police say that this past November, he had failed to respond to a request to use Twitter to cancel an appearance at a mall that had become unruly.

At first blush, the story strains credulity. Instead of arresting the manager, police might have arrested Bieber over his hair cut or his "I'm so cool" hip-hop stare. In their best Steely Dan manner, they may rightly have wondered "where did you get those shoes" and arrested him for wearing them. Add to all that the fact that he's only 16, he's Canadian, and he's getting rich.


The police could have arrested his fans for being, well, his fans. They even could have arrested Beiber's manager over his name: "Scooter" Braun What they did was arrest Braun because, they claim, when asked to tweet, he did not (at least not for over an hour) and thus he created a criminal nuisance.


If we take this on face value, it says that local law enforcement is so attuned to the utility and ubiquity of social media, in this case Twitter, that the failure to use it responsibly overtly implies participation in or liability for the acts of others in your social network.


This makes for an interesting contrast with friends and colleagues of the Boomer Generation who declare Twitter a waste of time and generally turn up their noses at it.


I haven't the faintest idea about what will happen with Scooter (there are already "Free Scooter" t-shirts). I will predict that if local law enforcement believes they can assume Scooter Braun will behave as a responsible public person through his social network, then so will others. So will your boss and your customers and competitors.


Working on Step 2


So we have a handful of trends and data points. Last summer, CIO Zone published an article about 12 CIOs who have embraced social media. The same day that Scooter-gate hit the press, they published an article about another eight CIOs with the same convictions.


The CIO of Microsoft, Tony Scott, has been interviewed about social media "in the enterprise," saying that it's actually social media "in life" and that they were going to entirely invert their previous position on the consumerization of IT and orient their infrastructure to support the technology their employees bring to the firm, rather than force their employees to fit into an IT-generated cookie cutter.


The Mahatma David Meerman Scott has his Four Questions about marketing that make it crushingly clear that, no matter what else you do, you must market your firm and products through the Web and through social media.


Meerman Scott's Four Questions:


In the past two months, either privately or professionally, in order to find an answer to a problem, or to research or buy a product, have you:


1. Responded to a direct-mail advertisement?
2. Used magazines, newspapers, TV or radio?
3. Used Google or similar search technology?
4. E-mailed/texted/chatted with a friend, colleague, or family member and received as a response a URL, which you then clicked to visit the Web site?


Whether you are working on internal corporate communications or external customer and supplier outreach, you will be more effective if you do it with Web 2.0 technologies. They are less expensive, more effective, and more flexible than e-mails, press releases and Web sites. Do like Walton Smith at Booz Allen and connect interested internal parties around competitively compelling bodies of knowledge at the time and pace they can absorb it. Do like Dell and create a profitable market for returned and refurbished equipment. Do like Michael Hyatt at Thomas Nelson Publishers and bring your entire organization into direct, conversational touch with customers, helping to create a more personal and persistent relationship.


Do something like what these people do. If you wait until it's "proven," you lose.

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