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Social media contract a must

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As more and more executives in the c-suite embrace social media, reputational risks are likely to increase if proper contracts and policies are not in place, says LEON AYO, CEO of executive search firm Odgers Berndtson South Africa.

As more and more executives in the c-suite embrace social media, reputational risks are likely to increase if proper contracts and policies are not in place.

Executives have cited reputation as one of their top risk factors according to numerous reports. Fake news, fake social media accounts and cyber security are increasing the reputational risk in the digital world.

“As a measure of defence, many businesses will have social media contracts and policies in place for employees, but surprisingly, not at the c-suite or board levels,” says Leon Ayo, CEO of executive search firm Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa. “It is common practice for large companies to have social media contracts in place for executives throughout the UK, Europe and USA, but this is not yet the case in South Africa.”

The purpose of the contract is not to sensor or inhibit freedom of speech but rather to ensure the presence of executives on social networks does not compromise the company or business image.

Recently, Helen Zille’s tweets about colonialism received serious backlash which discredited not only the Democratic Alliance as a political party but also brought into question its current leadership. In addition, reputational and brand risks from executives posting inappropriate material can evolve to business or revenue risks, where there is a loss of regard from stakeholders.

On the other hand, social media has changed the communications dynamics between executives, employees and customers and the benefit is making people feel more connected. A more connected world contributes to the business objectives of the organisation. Locally, Michael Jordaan, former CEO of FNB was the Twitter trailblazer for the c-suite and was coined by IT media as the coolest CEO in the country

Social media contracts are certainly the practical measures for countering reputational risk in the digital world but leaders must also ensure their authenticity, both in the online world as well as the offline world. Whatever a leader is prepared to say online, they must be prepared to share in a face-to-face environment too. Barack Obama is a common reference for excellence in authentic leadership across various social media platforms because whatever he posts is reflective and authentic to what is happening offline too.

High risk factors such as fake news or fake social media accounts cannot be countered using social media contracts which is why authenticity plays such a necessary and important role. “Should a fake news story about an executive be published, for example, and is damaging to that reputation, a digital presence where the content and messaging is both authentic and consistent would be able to counter this risk. The same applies for a fake social media account. An executive must use the digital world to gain trust with their stakeholders and proper trust comes from authenticity just as they would do in the offline world,” explains Ayo.

Not only are fake news sites or social media accounts a possibility but so too are the chances of executives’ social media accounts being hacked, especially off the back of ransomware attacks such as the recent WannaCry.

“This is just an example of how hackers are increasing reputational risks and the next step could see executives’ accounts being hacked. Imagine comments made by a CEO on social media pertaining to price sensitive information and the impact it would have on share prices?” points out Ayo. “Requirements for secure passwords as outlined in a social media contract combined with leadership authenticity would be able to counter such a risk.”

Ultimately, executives cannot shy away from social media but also need to be aware of the pros and cons when communicating in a public forum. “People are not always going to like what you say or comment on and the c-suite may come under fire for this. At the same time, a well thought out social media strategy, contract and principles of authenticity will go a long way to counter this risk,” concludes Ayo.

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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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