Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dive In to Social Media

Yesterday, a coworker of mine told me that over the weekend he took the plunge. He joined Facebook, started a blog, and joined a ning about using technology in the classroom.

When I got home I read this post at Creative Class called Social Media in the Workplace. The post discusses a presentation made by Lois Kelley, a social media researcher at Beeline Labs.

In a presentation she gave to the Conference Board last year, Kelly described many of these Fortune 1000 social media strategies as focused on connecting with customers. But some are oriented toward engaging employees and changing the workplaces.

Here are some reasons employee-focused social media strategies in today’s workplaces might succeed or fail (inspired by her article “10 Ways to Make Social Media Matter to Skeptical CEOs“).

1. Innovation and productivity today often comes from listening to both employees and customers. Social media is about conversations. Attempting to use social media to control a message from the top, rather than listening to those who work with the corporation’s products and services every day is not what it is for. Moreover, if employees don’t believe that their opinion is valued, they won’t participate so it will fail.

2. Employees or customers want to hear a CEO’s point of view (or that of a senior manager) - not just data about the latest product, new acquisition, etc. They want to know what he or she thinks about economic challenges; new developments in the industry; or even the local sports team. And, they want to be able to enter into a dialog on these issues.

3. Success of a social media strategy should be measured by involvement, engagement - the numbers actively participating in a dialog (not just how many clicks a message receives). In fact, involving employees in a good internal social media community sounds like a great retention strategy.

4. Corporate social media strategies often involve a leap of faith - or courage, as Kelly calls it - when the c-suite gives up full control of the message. As she ends the essay:

One last point that resonated at that skeptical CEO meeting, I played the new Paul McCartney
song, ”Fine Line,” whose lyrics are “there’s a fine line between recklessness and courage.” Not
… letting go of some control is reckless because it puts a barrier up between you and your customers [or employees], I reminded the execs. Change that makes a big difference, however, requires just a small bit of courage.

From my experience, the only way to learn about using social media is to dive in and start. I signed up for Twitter, but it took a couple months of lurking around before I really got into it. I am just now starting to get what Twitter has to offer.

So consider this a challenge. Go out and dive in to social media. It could be Facebook, Twitter, starting a blog, or even just commenting on your favorite blogs. It doesn't matter what you do, but you won't begin to see the possibilities of social media unless you start. If you are reading this, you've already taken the first step.

No comments: