Ordinary people using Facebook and Twitter overturned dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy Media, which promotes the integration of technology with business and social progress, writes “this social might is now moving toward your company… you’d better get out of their way—or learn to embrace them.”
Gary Hamel, one of business’ most eminent theoreticians of management says,
I don’t think it’s crazy to ask if your CEO is the next Mubarak. The elites—or managers in companies—no longer control the conversation. This is how insurrections start.
Says Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com: “This isn’t just about Arab spring. This is about corporate spring.”
Twitter is a potent broadcast tool for anyone with a following. By “checking in” via a smartphone app or SMS through FourSquare, users share their location with friends. Foursquare allows users to bookmark information about venues and make suggestions. Merchants use tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences.
GroupMe enables users to send a single text or make one telephone call to a group of up to 25. Its like a private chat room that works on any smartphone for free. With such tools, users “inevitably end up working, maybe even conspiring, together,” says a representative of HearsaySocial.
Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff co-wrote The Support Economy: Why Corporations are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism. She says a background of mass produced goods produced a new human mentality—of a self-determining individual. This mentality was once the unique precinct of the elite: the wealthy, artists, poets, philosophers. And it became the mentality of everyone… in this new world value is not created inside the organization. It rests in the unfulfilled needs and desires of the individual. Now I have to come to you and say, ‘Who are you? Tell me about yourself. How do you want to live?’”
“Digital suffrage is upon us,” proclaims Venkatash Prasad, Ford’s high-wattage leader of product social networking efforts, in an e-mail. “Everyone has a right to a byte of the action, and we have embraced this might of the byte within Ford, through the use of internal and external social networks.” (Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution, Forbes, 9/7/2011)
While David Kirkpatrick’s focus is mostly on customers and employees, at CFO.com Marielle Segarra hones in directly on shareowners in What Happens When Shareholders Socialize? Websites like StockTwits and Moxy Vote have provided shareowners online platforms to discuss their stocks and organize around causes in real time. Shareowners voting through such sites have already been able to oust CEOs and stop mergers and acquisitions in their tracks.
Mark Schlegel, co-founder of Moxy Vote says the site taps into social media’s ability to mobilize.
If users think, ‘Hey, I can mobilize my friends to show up at a concert I’m going to,’ they can just as easily say, ‘I can mobilize my friends who own shares of [a company] to vote against [the chair’s] reelection.’
Last proxy season, advocacy groups used Moxy Vote as a way to be heard filed 360 shareholder proposals addressing everything from the disclosure of political contributions to a restaurant chain’s use of cage-free eggs.
Next year, shareowners will also be mobilizing on the US Proxy Exchange, forming groups around companies and issues. Join USPX to be a part of those discussions and part of the action.
I’m hoping to make my own site more interactive as well. I’ve tried a number of tools to facilitate the ability of readers to post on CorpGov.net with little luck. Spam kept getting through until I took the drastic step of practically having people e-mail their corporate governance resume before I’d allow them to post comments. That not only put a stop to the spam; it put a stop to the comments. Now, all you need to do is join USPX for $12/month and you’ll be able to post comments to either site… and so much more on USPX.
It will take a few months for social media tools to develop around shareowner action but corporate spring is coming.