The issue of control comes up over and over again when we talk about the online world. It recently it came up at Internet Librarian in many different ways, including:
- How do I stop a staff member from wasting time on Facebook?
- How do we control what staff are saying online?
- Management wants everything posted online (Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc) to go through PR.
- We don’t want employees to be able to access social networking sites?
- What about privacy?
- We can’t allow just anyone to post a comment without approving it first.
- How do we know a student is who they say they are?
I have answers to all of these questions, but these questions aren’t what this is about, what they represent is, control. Or the illusion of control.
The desire for control comes from fear. Fear of change, of the unknown, of doing things differently, of a situation not created by us, of taking risks. It is human nature to fear these things, it’s how we’ve survived. So is adaptation and times are changing, just as they always do, and we need to adapt.
In the internet age your image/brand no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your customers. The things they have always been saying are now online for the whole world to see. The content and commentary they post about you may rank higher in search engines than your site or content. You can’t stop them. Every attempt you make will be like fighting the Hydra, cut off a head, two will grow back. I promise.
Prevent comments on your website? They’ll start their own blog or Twitter account or website. Implement a filter to block social networking sites? They will find a way around it (and you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face).
Stop wasting time trying to get control, you might be fooling your boss or the board or yourself, but you are not fooling your staff or more importantly your customers. Better yet, when you stop spending time trying to get control or pretending that you have it, it frees you and your time to address the real issues.
Still not ready to let go? Think about these questions from Andrew McAfee :
- Are you ready and willing to let more internal voices communicate and shape your brand over time?
- If not, why not?
- Is it that you don’t trust your people, or your customers?
- Is it that you don’t want any negativity at all to appear on your digital properties?
- Or is it that you’re afraid there might be too much negativity?
Still not convinced? Or need to convince someone else? Try reading these:
- The Illusion of Brand Control
- Power And The Illusion Of Control
- M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree
- Case Study: Setting Content Free at Ford Motor Company
- What you can control and what you can’t.
- Social Media and The Reality of Control
- On Social Media And Culture Shift
- Why the 54% of companies blocking access to social media should unblock
- The Hazards of Leading Culture Change
*Up Next – What you can do after you’ve accepted control is an illusion.