There are tons of articles and proposals out there that tout the benefits of using social media at work to enable communication and collaboration. Companies that are early adopters and embracers of social media for these purposes have learned lessons that can help the rest of us implement social media practices more effectively. These pioneers have help answer some of the questions and arguments against. All the answers are not there, but the dialogue for usage has begun.
If I were to propose social media usage to my own group or department, I would want to have a good picture of how it can be used to help the company meet its business goals. I started exploring this topic a year ago and recently spent the time to develop a brief informational presentation to outline my learning. You can view a .pdf by clicking the image below.
An obvious use for social media in the work place – communicating news
Hopefully the use of social media platforms at work will drive that monthly or quarterly newsletter into extinction. Use of social media platforms as a news delivery tool may provide an more timely effective news channel for employees. Those traditional newsletters that come via email often get shuffled into mail folders or are simply ignored or deleted. I’d like to be able to search for news, past & current, on certain company-wide initiatives via a search engine rather than having to spend 5-10 minutes scratching my head as I wonder where I saw that particular newsletter with the info I’m looking for.
Other uses for social media in an enterprise environment
Traditional leaders may see social media as a mere distraction, but in reality, it provides powerful opportunities to connect with employees and leverage their knowledge. Statistics show that growing numbers of the world’s population see it as a common way to get the information they need or connect with others professionally as well as privately. According to a 2013 Pew survey, 82% of 30-49 year olds and 89% of 18-29 year olds use social media. For these people, it’s not odd to get news or connect with others this way. Consequently, they would be open to a growing number of uses for social media in a business environment:
- Carefully guided but authentic application of social media tools such as polling and discussion can empower change management initiatives in an organization
- It can also be an effective tool in building employee engagement by sharing business goals and asking employees to demonstrate or showcase where they fit in to these goals. Providing sounding boards for authentic discussion and opportunities for executives to listen and respond can build goodwill and engagement in the workforce. (This requires leaders who understand how to effectively communicate using these channels)
- Highlight and build employee culture
- Promote interdepartmental collaboration that can lead to innovation
- Attract new talent (both from sources that are external and internal to the company). Having an outdated social media policy may deter younger talent from applying.
- Sharing media, information and microblogging can promote learning of concepts, processes and methods within and between departments
Before social media usage is adopted, some homework needs to be done
It seems that successful implementation of SM requires the company to ask change management questions before implementing or even selecting a tool.
- Are there enough people out there who are willing to experiment but then use it regularly going forward?
- If not, do you have a set of super users and ‘mavens’ who would effectively model and proliferate the adoption of the platform?
- What guidance would we include in our social media usage policy both for external & internal sharing? What sort of things are appropriate for sharing? What are not? What language will you use to communicate these rules to employees?
- Is the company culture and leadership prepared to provide and use the transparency social media allows? Are they effectively trained in how to do so authentically?
- What strategy will be used to engage employees and organizations at all levels of the company?
These are just a few questions that can be asked as part of a needs analysis. The presentation I’ve linked below examines some possibilities for engaging all levels of a company (Slide 5). Thanks to a very helpful article/whitepaper from EY Performance started a matrix of social media tools that can be used in an enterprise environment (Slide 11). I would caution any group or decision makers who are looking at implementing a social media strategy not to look for that ONE tool or platform that does everything. From my own experience and research it seems that there is not a one-stop-shop (at least today). In the future, to continue this exploration, I’d like to outline some best recommended practices for both selecting a social media toolset and then recommendations for training all levels of a company in how to use social media effectively and safely.
I’m also working on developing most of the content from the slides shared below into an infographic. Creating simple infographics is another item on my own personal development checklist.