I wondered how long it would be before the ‘self-styled’ social media and web engagement gurus decided that they didn’t much care to be that social or that engaged – unless of course it’s very much on their terms. Seemingly, it doesn’t take much for the shutters to slam down and the ‘awaiting moderation’ signs to pop up. Remember, these are the sort of folks who espouse the need to be open and transparent via social media channels, be ready to respond 24/7 and offer ‘freedom of speech’.
Let’s take Alterian for example, a company that talks endlessly about ‘engagement’ via a blog called ‘Engaging Times’. Firstly, they seem to have a lot of problems working out how WordPress, their blogging solution of choice, works with regards to comments or are perhaps struggling to devolve this responsibility to other members of staff – as there is a real mix of behaviours on the site when you make a comment. Sometimes it displays straight away, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it displays and then disappears again to ‘await moderation’ – which seems a rather bizarre way of doing things. And, most recently, the site was apparently displaying the comments made by those outside the company and not displaying the responses made by staff. Hmmm – all pretty ‘unengaging’ in the general scheme of things and a bit ironic seeing as one of their core product lines is Web Content Management Systems. Maybe this lack of operational expertise when it comes to managing engagement on their blog is because they don’t actually get much engagement. In fact, my comments probably amount to the majority of those ever made on the site. It’s not as if I haven’t tried. The real irony here is that organisations that talk about the need to move from broadcasting information to listening and ‘engaging’ are actually ‘broadcasting’ about tens times the volume of information than they ever did before. It also reminds me of those generals in the First World War who happily sent waves and waves of the young, powerless and naive onto the battlefields while rarely venturing out of an office or a trench themselves.
I tried recently to engage around the topic of using social media monitoring to predict the X Factor result but they didn’t take too kindly to me asking for a deeper level of information on ‘how’ they supposedly did that and when I did a similar exercise for the Strictly Come Dancing and Apprentice finals my comment on their site explaining this never made it through ‘moderation’ – no doubt that good old ‘spam filter’ opt-out clause will be the reason. Again – it’s just not very engaging. My latest comment to be ‘awaiting moderation’ regards my genuine concern for the organisation that they are aligning themselves too closely with that notorious ‘one-to-one hustler’ Don Peppers who has not won favours in the marketing community in recent years. It’s a genuine concern so I hope the comment makes it through ‘moderation’ or a good reason is provided for it being rejected.
Then we come to Gilbane, an analyst organisation and division of Outsell (perhaps SellOut would be more appropriate) that helps practitioners select the best technology for their needs – under the statement on their homepage that they help you make “vendor-neutral well-informed decisions”. Now I am of the opinion that analyst’s should be open at all times about the clients they are working with and producing research for, particularly as the analysts portray themselves as ‘trusted advisors’. I think we should have a clear understanding of who has paid for those ‘thought leadership’ whitepapers to be produced so we can put the comments and advice in the proper context. Personally, I find it hard to reconcile the phrase “vendor-neutral” with a page like this particularly having attended a couple of webinars recently.
When I made a comment recently relating to an organisation Gilbane is being hired by, surprise, surprise that comment is now ‘awaiting moderation’ on the particular analyst’s blog and this comes just a few hours after I was assured that comments weren’t “moderated, denied, hidden or deleted” – except comments relating to transparency clearly. (As per comments below, I have been advised that this statement is ‘factually incorrect’ as Artificial Solutions are not currently a client of the Gilbane Group).
I’m not surprised that it takes so little for the “do as we say, not as we do” mentality to rise up in these circumstances and it just goes to show the degree of fallacy and hypocrisy that exists in the wonderful world of ‘social media’.