Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Workplace bullying in Silicon Valley: now acceptable?

Pic Credit: Some rights reserved by trix0r

I'm feeling a bit rough at the moment.

Maybe that's going to influence the tone of this post.

But frankly I don't give a shit.

I was on the tram to work this morning when I read an article from The Artist Formerly know as Mr. Techcrunch, Mike Arrington.

The article - called touchingly enough STARTUPS ARE HARD. SO WORK MORE, CRY LESS, AND QUIT ALL THE WHINING (all in caps) - really hit a raw nerve in me.

I know I'm only human, and we all have raw nerves and sensitive areas, but the jist of this article is that Arrington seems to think that regardless of the perks of a job, your bosses are entitled to work you to an early grave so that they can get their vision off the ground, especially in Silicon Valley, where you go to, as the article suggests 'Make a dent in the universe' (pretentious much?)

I'm sorry Michael - but that's rubbish.

This is exactly the type of management bullshit that people have been spouting for years. 'We pay your wages, therefore we can tear into you whenever we want' school of management. The 'my product is more important than your sleep pattern' approach.

In the wake of the numerous eulogies to Steve Jobs, nobody was short-sighted enough to say that he didn't bully subordinates, make people feel small, arbitrarily fire employees, and generally act badly at times.

Despite all of the great products he brought to the market, the man still had his faults. And I wouldn't like to work for somebody like that.

I have had experience with this before. One place where I used to work (which, as per usual, I won't name) had a practice once a financial quarter called 'fuck off Friday' by the staff. People would come into work, and be summoned to the office midway through the day, and told their position would be made redundant. That counted as their consultation, and they were told to clear their desks and leave right away. It was like something out of Logan's Run. One of my good friends that worked in mobile development was summoned into one of these meetings, and basically told to leave the building. And that was the end of our mobile division at that time.

Besides being staggeringly short-sighted, this was a cruel practice that served to do nothing but appease shareholders, and improve the company's bottom line (which was sagging quite badly).

When you work for a company run by a visionary, you should always be aware that the person in question doesn't really want to share his riches with you. He doesn't really want your name anywhere on the site, or even on your headstone. They're out to make a name for themselves, and they see you as a resource to be used until you are spent. You're spent? Then you're out.

So my advice? Go in there, work your hours (and work hard, be the best, etc.), then leave. And don't be the person that died at their desk, that is little more than an uncredited extra in a film of somebody else's life.

Having a good idea, having vision, and having drive is not a crime. Neither, really, is bullying. But don't do it. It's cruel, and it makes you look like an arsehole. Actually, it just makes you an arsehole. Don't do it.

It's the entrepreneurs that set up the company who should have the sleepless nights - not you.

After all, nobody really wants 'died working' written on their graveston. Remember: you can't take all of those complimentary organic juices with you either.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Twitter Stealth Marketing - @girlbehindsix

This Wendy's Twitter promotion is great - although good luck in migrating their fans away from this promotion now that it's over.

This is one of the problems with stealth marketing campaigns on social platforms - I've admired the thinking, but the execution is nearly always poor. It is very easy with the right marketing mix to get a lot of fans and engagement on a certain Twitter account or Facebook page, but then what do you do when the promotion is over?

I've spend a lot of time migrating pages this year, and let me tell you something - it's not easy. If you get at least one percent of the audience to follow you across, then you have done a good job.

Also, following accounts on social platforms is not down to an 'either/or' decision. People aren't going to actively unlike or unfollow a campaign account, they're just going to like or follow the page that you are trying to direct them to - or not.

Remember - whether it's a like or follow, you are still asking people to work. If you are a brand, remember that you are not their friend. You are not at the top of their list of contacts when they change their email address, phone number or address details. By asking them to move accounts, you are asking them to do something that they would only normally do for their friends. If you are doing your job right, you won't just be marketing to sheep that blindly click and share everything you say (although I'm sure that a few Community Managers would prefer it that way), so give them something - a thank you, or even an improvement to what you are offering.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

My first Social Media disaster

This week, I was lucky enough to be involved in my first social media shit storm.

Why lucky?

Well, it was brilliant because I actually felt like I was in the middle of something that many so-called social media experts claim to be so adept at avoiding.

I won't go into specifics, it's not really fair on anybody involved, but it's safe to say that, as expected, once I found out that a Facebook post of ours had gone viral, the first feeling that I had was one of fear, panic, frustration, and then finally EXCITEMENT.


Because it is a chance to turn a bad situation around. 

This is why you got into this job. It's not just to build neat apps, it's not to make pretty landing pages. It's crisis management, baby, and you simply have to be the best at riding it out.

You can write a community policy, you can have as many social meetings as you like, you can have all of the snazzy whistles and bells surrounding you and making your job as easy as possible.

But in social media, all of that preparation, education and advice can go up in smoke in the most spectacular way by somebody choosing to post something to a page that is at best questionable, and at the worst offensive to people.

Not reacting to it can wreck all of the blood, sweat and tears that you have put into a brand, TV station, radio station, clothing line.

You have to react quickly, and if you have upset people, you must apologise straight away.

And let me tell you something - you may remain calm, but people DO shit themselves. Try your best not to. Wear a nappy, or something.

Some people will tell you within the company - possibly people that don't see the benefits of what you are trying to do, or people who don't see what the fuss is about.

The one thing I would say to that is: Listen to them, and then be prepared to be honest, and disagree.

You have case studies of social media mistakes coming out of the ying yang - from Kenneth Cole to United Airlines...

You are the person they hired to put a tricky situation right. You deal with the pace and emotional flux that permeate Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google+ over the course of a day. You are wired into a situation room that only has one entrance, and one exit - and the public are waiting at the exit.

What do you say to them if you have upset them?

You say sorry. And if you are a decent person, you mean it.

And we meant it.