Posts Tagged ‘Privacy apps’

Executives – Listen to the Electronic Water Cooler in your office

Gossip has always given executives key information to manage their organizations

In the days of “Mad Men”, people would gather around the water cooler each day.  In these “water cooler breaks”, gossip, rumors and other “nasty” information would be traded.  While much of it was probably untrue, the “water cooler network” was often accurate in predicting firings, layoffs and other business problems and challenges.  Often, the “water cooler gossip” was a harbinger of events that would occur in the near future.   Executives would task their assistants and trusted staff to keep them informed about the water cooler gossip because it often yielded key information useful in managing the firm.  While the official events in the office were telling one story, the gossip chain represented by the water cooler might be telling another – more accurate – version.

While the water cooler is long gone in most organizations, it has been replaced by electronic gossip.  In the initial days, many employees used Facebook, bulletin boards and other electronic social networks to exchange gossip.  But there were two problems.  First, these networks tracked the individual contributing the gossip.  While this was not a problem between the people at the electronic water cooler, the second problem was that these systems were – for the most part – open social monitoring systems.  In other words, if an executive was savvy enough to monitor social chatter, they could often identify employees who were making false or damaging claims and take action.  In essence, the electronic water cooler was “bugged” and therefore risky to use on really “hot” gossip.

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The water cooler is now electronic and anonymous…and you need to know how it works!

Gossip will always be with us but electronic gossip on open networks was a real problem.  To address these need, entrepreneurs have created Privacy Apps and, as an executive, you need to learn about them and how they work.  Privacy apps allow users to talk about company gossip anonymously.  This means they can discuss sensitive or “hot” topics without the concern about being monitored by social monitoring systems.  Their conversations cannot be traced to the individual.  While social networking apps are open to anyone, anywhere in the world, many of the privacy apps work only within a geographic area.  This allows people to know the people they are gossiping with are likely within their office or office complex [or their apartment or condo unit for personal gossip].  As an executive, you can monitor them but you cannot source the conversation…unless they say something personal.

My daughter is interning at a major corporation headquartered in Columbus Ohio.  When she first went there, she used one privacy app to “overhear” interesting company gossip about different managers and corporate initiatives.  It helped her learn the “lay of the land” and get more acquainted with the challenges facing the company.  At her apartment complex, she found people were connecting through another privacy app to discuss what was happening at the complex.  It was interesting information and testament to how popular these apps are.  In fact yesterday, I spoke in the morning with journalists in the last quarter of education at Northwestern.  When I mentioned these apps and who was using them, few raised their hands.  Later in the afternoon, I gave the same talk to our Northwestern Cherub group – high school students who are aspiring journalists.  When I asked them the same question, nearly all of the students raised their hands.  

Executives – get ready – privacy apps are here and growing!

You can easily begin monitoring anonymous social gossip in your office.  You just download the top 4 privacy apps [for free!] and see if anyone in your office is using them to discuss company gossip [I’ll bet they are].  I keep these 4 on my phone as I visit client offices and, while I am in the waiting room, like to see if there is chatter and what they are saying.  The four apps to download and test are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the big 4 today.  I have had the most success with Secret for business conversations and Yik Yak for discussions around condos, apartments and in public [like Starbucks].  However, in your area, WUT and Whisper should also be tried.  You should download these free apps to your iPhone or Android phone and see if anything is happening around your office.  Today, private apps are one of the largest growing app categories in the US today.  You need to be aware of them and being using them to find out if the water cooler gossip has moved into the anonymous world of private apps.  Without them, you may be missing out of important news traveling the electronic grapevine.

I’d like to hear about your experiences with the anonymous discussion apps.  Please comment on this article or your experiences [or both].  This is a new application in social and one we need to test to see its importance in our social world.  Also, if you like this blog article, please tell your colleagues.

 Randy Hlavac

Randy Hlavac is a consultant and instructor of Social and Mobile Marketing at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL.  He is also the author of a book on social marketing called:  Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI.  This “Hands On” book lets entrepreneurs, business executives and marketers evaluate different social strategies to select the best approach for your high value markets.  The book shows how to use social to engage specific high value markets to create a holistic & 1-to-1 database driven relationship.  It shows you – in detail and with global best-of-breed examples how to make social an integrated part of your marketing mix.  Randy can be reached at rhlavac@msinetwork.com.

 

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