Tuesday at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, I had the true pleasure of meeting Capt. Nathan Broshear, who's known on Twitter by one of the weightiest user names you could imagine: @usairforce. He's an energetic and genuine person and a great ambassador for the Air Force. I summarized Nathan's talk in my post about the Future15 Social Business Panel, moderated by David Meerman Scott, but I haven't stopped thinking about the larger message.
Lots of companies are concerned about the issues social media brings to the surface, like loss of control of the message and the potential for sensitive information to get out. Those are valid concerns.
But look down at your desk chair. Does it have rockets attached to it? How about your keyboard? Mine has a lot of beige keys, but I don't see a big red one.
When Nathan is asked by generals if the military is becoming too open, his response is, “You've got a 23-year old kid in charge of a $50 million airplane, and you don't trust him with a Facebook page?”
According to a study last year, 54 percent of companies are still blocking social media. How do employees at those companies feel when they see that even the military is more open than their workplace?
I have never been an advocate of throwing open the gates and having a corporate social media free-for-all. You need a good set of social media policies and a clear understanding of your goals for social media communication. But if you're still holding back, look to the Air Force for inspiration. If they can manage the risks and see benefits, surely your company can, too.