Faking It

Excuse the crappy home made logo mashup, it’s purpose will quickly become clear. Earlier this week my attention was drawn to a website set up by Shell to encourage people to strapline some new arctic energy ads for them. There were some honest attempts by people to come up with something environmentally friendly and catchy, and most people had opted to send Shell up. Here are a few examples:

Shell Spoof Ads

Turns out the whole thing was a scam set up by Greenpeace, and they’ve blogged about it here. In addition to the website Greenpeace had a fake Twitter account sending out legal threats from Shell. I suppose I should have guessed, and it did look plausible and I do feel a bit of a chump. I have Matt Alder to thank for pointing out what was actually going on and I’m grateful to him for stopping me (and perhaps others) from digging our own holes any deeper.

And the truth is, I feel more than a little stupid, I feel a little angry too. I’m not sure I appreciate being duped by an organisation that purports to tell it straight, at least that’s how I felt Greenpeace played it prior to this. On the campaign overall Matt observed, ‘An interesting approach and it certainly got spread around but I’m not sure that deceiving your supporters is such a good idea.’ Compared to what many have said on the Greenpeace blog, Matt is being very polite about this. It seems that Greenpeace has scored a spectacular own goal with one of the commenters from the Greenpeace blog, Mark Goodge saying ‘From now on, every opponent of Greenpeace only has to point at this [campaign] and say “Greenpeace are liars and fraudsters” and their case will be made.’

Faking it is a risky business, you’re likely to get caught and when you do, your trust is blown. Is it worth it?

Tools, Trust and Toilets

I and many others attended Neil Morrison and Matthew Hanwell’s social media session at #cipd11 this morning. Loads of good stuff being shared and a healthy dash of British toilet humour thrown in for good measure. Here’s a summary of what I heard and learned. I’ll focus on Neil’s thoughts for now and cover Matthew’s later today.

Numbers: Neil started showing us some huge numbers, in the hour to follow 5,000 blogs would be written, millions of tweets sent. These numbers show us that social media is not a passing trend.

Control: Can you control what goes on social media? No more than you can control what people think and say, so don’t try to.

Fear: maybe around loss of reputation? So an employee tweets a ‘bad day’ message and gets sacked for it. The story ends up in the Metro and the company are embarrassed. Who made the bigger mistake? Ever seen an acceptable newspaper use policy? No – so why do you need one for social media?

Fear: what about loss of productivity. To suggest this shows contempt for your employees. If you have a productivity issue, social media is not your problem.

Fear: IT security perhaps? Emails spread viruses much more than social media, perhaps you should ban email instead?

HR as the Sheriff: Your first job as sheriff is to make sure HR don’t write a stupid policy on social media. Your second job is to make sure IT don’t write an even stupider social media policy. Done that? Good – now throw away the badge.

Lead the way: HR best placed to lead a connected conversation between employees, customers and others.

Learning: Neil told us that social media is an invaluable part of his continuous professional development. It gives him ideas, a place to share concerns, do more thinking and learning, helps with business leads and recruitment.

Easy: Social media is easy and those who tell you otherwise are resitaint or trying to sell you consultancy. At Random House where Neil is Group HRD, their approach to social media is organic, or as Neil put it, ‘slightly disorganised’.

Tools Trust and Toilets: Random House allow staff access to all social tools. If they didn’t, staff would just disappear into the toilet and tweet from there! We’d rather trust our people, foster adult to adult relationships – trust beats control every time.

Courage: courage is knowing what not to fear. Social media can help you empower, educate, encourage and experiment.

Thought provoking stuff from a bright HR Director. I hope many in attendance at this busy session go on and follow Neil’s lead.


I often find a powerful way to express recognition is simply to give a sincere thank you.

Today What Goes Around starts a third year of trading.

I am humbled, motivated and thrilled by the quality of relationships we establish and share.

Thank you. Each and every one of you.

Especially Carole and Keira. Your tolerance, love and support is the bedrock from which everything springs. Such possibilities, such excitement.

Thank you.

photo c/o rich115