screw the shitstorm, welcome to the clusterf!*k

Blogging has crossed my mind on numerous occasions in the last year or so. I used to think there is enough noise in the blogsphere – actually I still believe that. However if there was ever a time to actually start blogging about social media and technology, holy mbps Batman, today is the day!

Update from Telstra on Now We Are Talking

So you know the story – notorious Twitter figurehead Fake Stephen Conroy revealed himself to be Leslie Nassar. You can read about that here. The initial reaction was met with surprise, more so about the timing of the reveal then the actual revelation itself. Why now? After resisting temptation for months to accept the accolades of impersonating our esteemed Minister with just the right playful tone, the tweet itself was underwhelming in its simplicity: OK, so here it is; Fake Stephen Conroy = Leslie Nassar. Not even a hint of Burt Reynolds. This time. 

Stepping down also came with minimal fanfare – initially. However within hours that all changed. Forget KRudd’s shitstorm, this was a clusterfuck.

Some light reading for you …

Ok so are you back with me again? As I mentioned in my comment posted on @eunmac’s blog, I had cautiously not followed @stephenconroy with my transparently personal account while at my last job due to a potential conflict of interest. I may only be small fry, but if I had been caught publicly poking fun at the Minister for our industry I would have saved myself the hassle of writing up my eventual resignation letter. Social media codes of conduct were a hot topic at the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum in Sydney last month. The live Twitter stream highlighted the attendees key learnings – all of them seemingly forgotten now.

Jogging your memory:

Euan Semple, former head of Knowledge Management, BBC, … lives by the adage that it is better to ask for forgiveness than it is to wait for permission. That certainly is the only way that some companies are going to be able to try new things that have vague and fluffy value  via offical #e2ef blog

lyndakelly61: #e2ef Web 2.0 starts with leadership & culture, experiment & embrace; participate; it’s emeregent; just do it. good 1 Peter.

PRIANational: Microsoft Social Media Policy – “be smart” – good policy! #e2ef

lyndakelly61: the community self monitors – both in physical and online spaces – we tend to forget this #e2ef

stewartheys: Employers need to be more forgiving but employees need to be more responsible with their online identities. #e2ef

kcarruthers: rules of engagement are critical for enterprise social networking & social media #e2ef

bankingreview: Backley says Westpac has a code of conduct. The code is the same online as for offline. People will do bad stuff regardless #e2ef

lyndakelly61: backley also said 2 have fun with it & create mischief – good ideas! #e2ef

jverco: J.Gilling: Social media enables comp’s to build relationships with your heart. Prior to social media the relat’ship was with your mind #e2ef

So yes, I think we all agree that individuals need to understand the company line and take responsibility for that. However this is a new era, with new conversations between brands and decision makers; CEOs and consumers; the software developer and the opinionated blogger who isn’t even in the target market – conversations like we’ve never seen before. So this is where I was hoping we could see a direction like we’ve never seen before.

Mike Hickinbotham asks in his response “if Leslie worked for a ad agency would the tone and nature of the conversation be the same or different?” I take it this has to do with the fact that the bad guy in the story is Telstra, a company most of us love to hate. If that is the correct context, it’s a fair question. Mike has the absolute worst job in Australia in my opinion. He doesn’t get to produce flashy campaigns – with catchy songs, rabbits in China, high profile sponsorships -and hide in anonymity. (or maybe you do Mike? taking a guess here!) Mike and the @bigpondteam are facing up to Telstra and Bigpond customers – all of them, whether they be happy or violently unhappy – in a public forum. It’s an amazing thing to do on a daily basis and you can see the pride the @bigpondteam take in earning their rave reviews. As an aside, I have to admit that I’d be just as happy if I could get decent service from the traditional service channels first, but that’s another discussion entirely.

So Telstra’s policy is that only selected spokepeople deal with the media. How has that really worked out for Telstra lately? Here you finally had a few thousand people positively interacting with a Telstra staff member, most of whom would usually be quite vocal about their intense hatred dislike for Telstra. Yes your policy says that isn’t how you would like to have a conversation with your public, but this was your chance to be bold and tackle the common issues with corporates and social media. Telstra could have earned enormous respect and made us really believe that you are all about connecting people. Telstra have the opportunity to define the way social media is used in customer relationships – while your competitors are late to the party now they have the benefit of learning from your mistakes and creating a far better impression. Screw technology, communication is about people.

What now? We’ve seen from the blogs and tweets that Telstra are listening and they are learning. The next few days may scare the shit out of companies across Australia and we will all have to wait that little bit longer to convince CEOs of the benefits of social media. We’ve all heard that the Chinese word for crisis means “danger” and “opportunity”. Well, as it turns out, clusterfuck translates just as eloquently. Whatever the outcome is regarding @stephenconroy (and those bridges reduced to flaming embers), my eyes and ears are on Telstra and how they handle this opportunity.

Now we are talking!

Update: posts from around the traps:


Servant of Chaos

Bronwen Clune





Update from Telstra on Now We Are Talking

Seen something else? Leave the link in the comments section.


~ by mandi bateson on March 17, 2009.

2 Responses to “screw the shitstorm, welcome to the clusterf!*k”

  1. […] original post: screw the shitstorm, welcome to the clusterf!*k […]

  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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