Do we do things because we have carefully planned them? Or do we do things often because they just feel like the right thing to do? It is something that has was raised during the past week as I was discussing using social media with a number of different people. We make so many plans during our lives, and on a small-scale we make so many plans every day. Do we do anything anymore because it just feels instinctive?
The discussion is quite important to organisations that may be considering how to use social media. Of course they need to plan and consider the mechanics of when they will start to use it, what they will do and how they will do it. But once you dip a toe into the world of social will it be the plans that make things work or will it be the conversations and the intuitive replies, retweets and discussions?
During the 2011 riots Greater Manchester Police continued to have conversations with people using social networks. The strategy was set for the police accounts to be ‘the trusted voice’ and to make sure that the Force could answer the questions that people had. But there was never a detailed plan for how each of the tweets and posts should be worded. This was where the intuition came in. The response had to be appropriate to the discussion and needed to make sure that the person went away from the conversation in a better position than before it.
We train staff to use social networks and understand the issues, rules and conventions but some things are more about being a person than following a set of rules. That is where social media is challenging for organisations. We spend so much time trying to make sure that staff understand the rules, procedures and processes that if we are not careful we knock out of them any possibility of acting intuitively because it just feels right. We don’t value having that gut feeling about the approach to take to a situation.
Social networks have been able to reconnect many people with the chance of going with that gut feeling, of doing something because it is right rather than because it fits in with the process, and of becoming human again. Of course, human beings have failings and can get things wrong. That is something that we have to accept and policies have to take account of. It is the difference between doing something that might not go the right way, and doing something deliberately to create problems. The former should be forgiven the latter are the things that we should be concentrating on.
These are challenging times that we are living in. There are lots of things that we are not able to do because of financial or other issues. It is now that we have to become more creative and innovative, and that means harnessing the intuitive feelings we have. If done right that intuition can become the procedure of the future. Planning is important but let us not lose sight of what can be achieved by acting on instinct.