/ “Better than Seedless Watermelon” to “The Borg” and “Fear of Ex-Girlfriend Stalkers”: Employee Reactions to #domosocial

Employee reactions to #domosocial have been interesting, inspiring and educational. We’ve been getting some straight, honest feedback. In addition to chatter in the office, and on Twitter, we asked employees to tell us during the launch meeting and in a survey what they think — positive, negative, and anything in between. And they’ve been giving it all to us.

There’s a significant camp of folks here who are excited about the experiment. They are jazzed to be part of something that hasn’t been done before. Others are excited to learn new things. One of my favorite stories is about a new employee who had never used Twitter. Jumping right in, he sent his first tweet to his zero followers. No audience, but who cares. He sent it. And that was the point. A rock star in my book. If you’re going to learn this stuff, you have to start somewhere.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, we have some social gurus who I knew were great at their day jobs, but their social prowess was lurking in the shadows. One of our employees, for example, started her own kickstarter called “Tipping Bucket” — a crowd-funding platform for local non-profits. She’s regularly invited to keynote on community building. I love it. Awesome. And she’s really engaged too.

Other folks are clearly not happy that we’re making this program a companywide initiative. Worries about privacy, the arrival of the Borg, ex-girlfriend stalkers, and coercion into the latest marketing scheme are some of the actual comments and feelings from people who have worries and doubts. We’ve even heard from people outside Domo who echoed some employee sentiment that this experiment isn’t the right way for people to learn about social. We also heard that we’re not good at social. Well, there’s one thing I can say with certainty: We’ll be a heck of a lot better when we are done.

But I don’t want to lose track of the purpose of this experiment, which is to get people using and learning new technologies and platforms, and discovering some new things along the way so we can develop better products and help us lead the industry in the consumerization of IT. The experiment isn’t going to work unless we get everyone on board. And while we’re measuring a whole bunch of metrics, the metric I’ll care most about is how many light bulbs went off in our heads and how we used that learning to improve our product.

I am really excited about this experiment, and I’d also be lying if I didn’t share that I have a little CEO angst. I’m encouraging an entire company to start putting themselves (and by default, Domo) out there. So going through our Social Media Guidelines was an important part of our launch meeting. There was some honest feedback on those too.

A few people shared that they had issues with the “might not want to challenge your boss publicly” guideline as it strikes counter to the social way. I totally understand their point of view, but I look at social with a business lens. If employees don’t trust their CEO or their company, why should customers? In the business world, the social stage isn’t the right forum for showing dissent with your boss. Just ask the Marine who made a very public comment about the Commander in Chief and was dismissed. Sure, that Marine could have his extremely negative personal opinions about the President, but sharing them with the entire world was not appropriate. Wrong place. In terms of someone challenging me, I’m all for it and want people to bring independent thinking to Domo. I want people to challenge what we are doing and bring new ideas. These are exactly the people I want working here. But my preference is to have those conversations inside the company, not on a world stage.

During the #domosocial launch meeting, I called out one employee who had publicly challenged me a couple of times on Twitter. In reality, the challenges were no big deal – but I wanted to make everyone aware that there are better forums for these exchanges. In good fun, I made him an example and pardoned him for his egregious ways with an Ex Post Facto Award (about the only Latin I remember from school). He was a great sport, took the message to heart and now we’re DM BFFs. But more importantly, the rest of the company better understands how to mesh being a flat, transparent organization while still presenting a unified front as a business.

All in all, one of the best analogies I’ve heard so far is that participating in social is like being on stage at the world’s biggest trade show with millions of customers and prospects in the audience. I think this analogy is one of the best filters to guide your online behavior regardless of your role within a company.

With the first full week of this experiment well underway, we’re seeing some interesting data. Stay tuned — we’ll be posting our first infographic very soon that shows some surprising growth. I also have a post in the works on conversations that are happening in the office that I’ve certainly never heard at any office I’ve been around before.

The good news just keeps coming. I have a feeling some of the surprising stuff is still to come. I am constantly bracing myself for massive negative backlash but I am hopeful we just keep growing and learning.

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