A few months ago I was asked to provide my thoughts on an article being written byJeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd in an upcoming edition of People & Strategy. The title was “Five Myths and Realities When Considering Using Social Media Inside the Company”
As it’s been recently published, I thought I’d push to you those 5 Myths that were presented and my response that followed. I’d encourage everyone to grab the complete article (linked below) as there were a few others included within the responses that did a great job summarizing their thoughts on the topics. I wonder where you might come out on the following…
- Social media is a time waster at work and should be banned.
- Social media is a fad and will fade away in a few years.
- If you build it, they will come…
- My employee population is too old to deal with social media for learning.
- Social Media is difficult to measure in terms of a return on investment.
All great topics and presented nicely by Meister and Willyerd who co-authored the book, “The 2020 Workplace” – a book I’d highly recommend that anyone check out.
Let’s Concentrate on Managing the People
Ms. Meister and Ms. Willyerd write an interesting article with many great points related to the validity of social media taking a somewhat permanent residence within our various working generations. To be clear, however, the definition of “social media” is communication built upon a platform that allows for the contribution and exchange of user-generated content. While Facebook has risen to become a giant among social channels, it certainly does not stand alone when considering the ever-growing need of people to collaborate and communicate on topics ranging from weekend picnics to billion dollar projects.
There are other social communication tools and networks that should not be ignored and are considered social in nature. In fact, many of them have been around and in use for years. Tools and platforms like Lotus Notes released in 1989, allow for threaded discussions and the collaboration of any number of projects. Today Lotus Notes offers features very similar to other products, like Microsoft’s SharePoint, that include blogs, Wikis and seamless calendar and e-mail integration and are being rapidly adopted around the globe. These were never deemed “scary” or “time wasters,” because they were typically limited to internal company use and did not include surveys to help you discover what type of Disney Princess or virtual Farmer you might be.
What is typically a mainstream social network can be surprising as well. Twitter, a micro-blogging service that allows for 140-character updates, rocketed into popularity throughout 2009. And while at a glance Twitter may seem to some as a silly collection of ramblings, many companies are seeing incredible success using it to offer service and/or sales options to their customers. Are employees venting about their noisy cubical neighbors? Sure. But they are also connecting with peers to work on various projects or even using advanced search features to connect with talent within their professions.
And it doesn’t end with Facebook and Twitter. MySpace is still a contender for highly trafficked social sites, and so are more professionally driven social networks like LinkedIn. The broad range of networks isn’t necessarily about niche topics either. We have an almost endless list of sites and forums from which to select because of a growing demand for constant communication in the formats that users desire.
My role at PepsiCo is to push the boundaries related to how recruiters find and engage top talent internally and externally. I get to see the creation and evolution of countless social networks and how they impact people and business. One thing is always constant: No matter the name or the appearance of the network and regardless of its casual or professional adoption rate, ease of use drives its evolution or demise.
Incredibly valuable organizations, such as the Social Media Business Council and Word of Mouth Marketing Association, move to help educate (via collaboration!) both large and small companies about social media for business. I’m of the opinion that the companies that adapt the demands of their employees to fit their business needs and that concentrate on managing the people, not restricting the media channels, will see increased productivity, quality and even employee retention in the long term.