"who gives you permission to read those books?" Sorry, its not about porn! Rather, this was the question Christopher Locke (Publisher of Entropy Gradient Reversals and contributor to The Cluetrain Manifesto) was asked by a stranger in a coffee shop in Tokyo some years back. Locke had started a new job and was falling short on his computer science knowledge, so he bought a stack of books and lugged them to the coffee shop. Locke admitted; "I thought about this deeply, and I'm thinking about it still."
I really relate to this, because I've also bought, borrowed and found stacks of books about www and its implications for marketers and media. Some days I too am flying by the seat of my pants and the more I can teach myself the less risk I reckon I have of going into a tail spin and crashing. This week was no exception. The www is challenging us to engage with our customers online, but within the confines of the National Credit Act, it's challenging stuff. Banks can't just let their staff or anyone loose on their customers through any old Facebook sites, blogs or Twitter, unless they’re properly equipped (FICA accredited) and can provide help and guidance responsibly. As much as we all believe in the freedom of expression www embodies, whether we like it or not, a bank is not a fast food outlet. We're dealing with people's hard earned cash and their difficulties in managing it. As a more seasoned banker counselled me recently, "This is not a media business Gisele. No-one likes banks!"
I'm hoping to reconcile the need for responsibility and measured interaction with the ClueTrain hit-one-outta-the-park Twelve Step programe for Internet Business Success, which says 1) have a sense of humour (some days I wonder...), 2) relax, 3) find your voice and use it? (More difficult), 4) tell the truth (we are actually very good at this), 5) don’t panic (good advice that, will remember next time), 6) enjoy yourself (doesn't everyone try), 7) be brave, 8) be curious, 9) play more (who would want to argue with that?), 10) dream always (of course), 11) listen up and 12) rap on (right on…there's no shortage of verbage).
Ok, so millions of South African's are drowning in debt - scary fact is our nation spends 70% of their income servicing debt. Our challenge is to harness our collective creative energies and engage in customer conversations online responsibly, which could result in positive closure, empowerment and ultimately financial redemption. If I sound like a zealot then fogive me. However, I'm pretty optimistic we'll get this right in the long run. However, there's no question we're going to get into a couple of tail spins trying.