Now more than ever is a time to be careful…

    David Thomas

    Earlier this year, on the 13th March, the ASX released its final version of Guidance Note 8, informing listed entities on the new rules of engagement concerning continuous disclosure, to come into effect on 1st May 2013.
    Not that I am one to sit on the edge of my seat and jump for joy when a 78-page, text heavy, policy booklet is realised to the public, however there WAS something that caught my eye; the introduction of mandated social media monitoring whatever a company’s social media position is.
    Thinktank Social is in the fortunate position of working with a number of listed organisations and, as someone responsible for providing data on this EXACT topic to these organisations, my thoughts turned to Salesforce’s Radian6; my best buddy in my role at Thinktank Social [sorry team, Radian6 just understands me better than everyone else… :)]
    What is Radian6 I hear you ask? Radian6 is a specialised tool, specifically created to listen to the conversations that happen online – primarily across different social media platforms – and uses the data it gathers to develop a picture of how a particular brand, product or service is seen by the online community.
    It works using a Topic Profile. I created a Topic Profile consisting of keywords that a client wants to monitor. Radian6 will then send out feelers and listen to various forms of social media for these keywords, delivering the results of its “surveillance” in real time.
    This is where Radian6 and I truly bonded; the data that is collected can be presented in a wide variety of widgets, displayed on a Dashboard. All of which is highly customisable. Radian6 can display a ‘Conversation Cloud’ for me; a Conversation Cloud displays the top 50 words within a profile’s collected posts. The more prominent the word is in the cloud, the more frequently it is being used to discuss keywords/topics. I can use these widgets to identify ‘Top Influencers’ online and monitor developing trends.
    Needless to say, when Radian6 and I get going, there is no limit to the information we can gather together…
    Now, back to more important – and serious – items. What does this amendment to Guidance Note 8 mean for listed companies? It simply means that ASX listed organisations must engage a monitoring program, regardless of whether that organisation has deployed social media practices or not.
    If such an organisation has engaged in social media and is not running a monitoring program… blasphemy! Given the power and reach of social media, it’s only logical to assume that social media can heavily influence stock prices. One ‘minor’ comment from a staff member on a forecasted negative quarterly result could have severely damaging effects to someone of the calibre of ANZ or BHP Billiton.
    For mine, regardless of whether listed or privately held, monitoring brand mentions in social media is part of risk mitigation. It’s very difficult to monitor Jane Doe explaining her negative experience with a brand to friends and family, unless of course you are a part of the friends and family circle. Monitoring puts the power of listening back in YOUR hands and allows a business to be proactive, rather than reactive.
    – Some questions that should be asked of an individual responsible for digital marketing;
    – Is your social media being monitored 24/7
    – Who is monitoring your social media and are they qualified to do so?
    – What are you monitoring? (Keywords, topics, platforms, people/influencers etc.)
    – Do you have a risk escalation plan in place?
    – Do you have a policy around social media usage?
    – Who governs the use of your social media?
    – Have your staff been trained on social media usage?
    – If your answers were somewhere in the vicinity of ‘No’, ‘N/A’ and ‘I don’t know’, you’re in luck…
    Radian6 and I here to help and, if we can say so ourselves, we’re a pretty good team.
    We’re best buddies after all…