Taking Two Disparate Thoughts and Trying to Make Them One

I have a feeling that, over the last month, the political rhetoric in your locale pretty much matched that we experienced here in Arizona – attack, slander, and pure vitriol. None of that leads to a true discussion of facts, issues, or merits. Case in point: We had a proposition here that was advertised as “Save your secret ballot”. Ads touted that the secret ballot was a constitutional right and that the passing of this proposition was needed to ensure our right to a secret ballot was maintained. The proposition passed with 70% in favor. 

Here’s what the proposition was really about; ensuring secret ballots as part of employees’ elections related to unions. (That’s a quick snapshot – as with all election issues, there was a lot more than that.) Let me add that the bill was sponsored by groups with an interest in slowing down the unions’ abilities to organize. Again, more here than first meets the eye.

I am not here to take a stand one way or the other about unions; nor about whether this was a proposition that should have passed. That is not my point. Rather, based on the results of all other propositions on the ballot (which, for those that passed, had much closer margins of victory), it seems apparent that people were voting on an advertising soundbite rather than on what the proposition was really about.

Hold that thought while I wander somewhere else.

Recently, I began following the Twitter accounts of various companies to get a feel for how organizations might be using this tool. I am simultaneously amazed and appalled by what I am seeing. I am not sure if it is ignorance, naïveté, or total disregard for what might be accomplished, but the banality I am seeing from certain companies is no representation of the power that can come from a properly used social media outlet. One company in particular (no, I won’t tell you the name), seems to think that the sole purpose of tweeting is to ram more ads down your throat. At least five times a day they tweet about why you should buy their product. Occasionally interspersed is a comment about their new ad campaigns and once (yes, just once in watching for the last month) a tweet to enter a contest they had just started up.

Based on these posts, it appears the company has developed a strategy for turning potential customers into raving fans by inducing them to follow the company on Twitter and then building brand excitement through the daily force-feeding of spam. (Don’t know about you, but nothing makes me quiver in anticipation quite so much as the opportunity to be consistently inundated with a company’s latest 140 character blurb on why I should buy from them.) A complete misunderstanding of what Twitter is, what people want from it, and how it can be used.

Put it together and what have you got? (It ain’t bippity-boppity-boo.) Two different approaches to conversation – the first a deliberate attempt to obfuscate reality to achieve a desired result, the second an inept attempt to try and ram a message down a throat.

Read any of the articles, updates, and blog posts available here on Internal Auditor Online and you will see that long gone are the days when the value of internal audit was in making sure the books balance. In today’s world our responsibilities have broadened greatly. So these two stories are representative of an important area you may want to add to your audit repertoire. How well is your company handling its conversations? Do they even understand the conversation they are trying to have? Is that conversation a conscious effort to mislead?  (And, does such misleading really represent a problem?)

And one other thought I’ll leave with you. When you see problems and ineptitudes in the real world (in this case, questions about political advertising and the use of Twitter), take a step back and see if it might not also be an object lesson in the value audit can provide.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 by Mike Jacka

Share This Article:    

Leave a Reply