Thoughts on the new Forrester blog policy
Tiffany Winman 12000065XB firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social-media ip brand blog risk-management intellectual-property risk policy enterprise2.0 forrester ethos
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There were two big topics of conversation in my Twitter streams this weekend--the missed opportunity of the sponsors of the Super Bowl ads to engage in and leverage the conversation in the digital commons (so sad) and the controversy over Forrester's new and upcoming blog policy.
Several social media enthusiasts started decrying the fall of all that was good and holy about Forrester due to this new policy. I love social media and the amazing power it brings to the masses, but I think we conflate too many issues too quickly when we judge Forrester in this case.
Social media=democracy, brotherhood, and apple pie, right? All of these are sacred, right? The technocritic in me has always been careful not to take overly simplistic views of technology and democracy. Where there is the "good," there is often also the "dark." It's important to understand some of the unique questions companies are grappling with in social media today.
We know that "the brand" is being crafted where the conversation is happening. How many books and articles can we read on this topic? :) But does this mean we should not still consider what type of "brand" we want to be, via what methods, or that we should dismiss the concept of building and aggregating "brand equity"?
Credibility and objectivity
This is a two-way streak. Individuals BRING credibility to and GET credibility from the things, people, and companies they're associated with as part of their overall "moral character" (an ancient law always in existence--look up ethos). When people are blogging outside of a company's Web site, do we really think they are more objective than if they weren't, and that they don't need to be sensitive to what they say no matter where they say it?
Also, intellectual property laws don't just go out the window with the rise of social media. Whether someone is blogging outside or inside a company's Web site, IP policies usually still apply if the employee is using company time, contacts, resources, etc. to build their knowledge and value. To call Forrester a dinosaur in its view of social media over simplifies understanding the complexities of IP policies. Also, when content is hosted on third-party sites, issues over IP arise. Read the terms of service of some of the social media sites, and you'll see what I mean.
In addition to all of the above, companies are dealing with risk management in social media. Just to name a few things:
Until we develop more mature models integrating the enterprise with the social media and social computing, we will continue to have misunderstandings and disagreements in this space if we take polarizing positions (heck, that will probably always be true--regardless of mature models).
Are we attacking Forrester's lame view of social media and brand management? Or intellectual property policies? Their financial business model? Their risk management model? All of the above? That may very well be, but it's helpful to tease out some of the points and understand them one by one. :)
Note: The opinions stated here are my own, and not those of my employer.