Social Media


This post by Angela Ashenden makes some worthwhile points about using social networks (i.e., Facebook) for business collaboration.  I appreciate that she points out the obvious, and not so obvious, reasons that social networks can be a productivity drain and their use should be discouraged.  However, toward the end of the post, Ms. Ashenden concludes that,

“[w]hen it comes down to it, the biggest issue is trust, and trusting your employees to behave in an appropriate way. The reality is that if people want to waste their time they will, whether or not you deploy social collaboration tools in your business (after all, they can access their public Facebook and Twitter accounts from their personal smartphones, even if your organisation blocks access on work devices). In practice, few organisations find that governance is an issue on internal social collaboration platforms – once everyone understands how things work, initial concerns fade away.”

I completely agree with this conclusion, but it seems to me that trust is the lowest threshold for adoption.  Most often trust is the issue cited by leadership for not embracing social collaboration.  This is becoming less of an issue for the rank and file, as noted in the quote above.

The obstacle I have not figured out how to overcome is drawing people to an internal social network.  People are drawn to Facebook by news about family and friends, games, pictures, video clips, etc.  You don’t want your business information to compete with baby pictures so there has to be a compelling reason for a team to use a social network for collaboration.

In my organization I believe there are two overriding factors that influence collaboration, deadlines and budget.  Assuming I am right, the biggest obstacle to adopting a social network is the impact it has on processes and accountability.  A model that is based on social collaboration forces an organization to rethink how it views these factors; However, I would argue that social collaboration spreads the responsibility in a healthy way and can instill a greater sense of unity in an organization.

  • What would it look like if everyone is jointly accountable for meeting a deadline?
  • How would people behave if they had a voice in deciding the theme for a catalog?
  • What if everyone knew what the top performing products were?
  • How could we collectively improve collaboration and communication with remote locations?

This is challenging to the culture of an organization.  It forces people to rethink their assumptions.  That is not easy and is predicated on trust.  In the long run I believe the benefits can far outweigh the consequences.

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There are two video clips in this post about Burberry.  In the first the CEO talks about how the company encourages use of social media by their employees.  In the second she talks about the intangible qualities she looks for in an employee and the culture she strives for in Burberry stores.

Total running time of both clips is about 10 minutes.

The video below is from an article with a somewhat deceptive title, What Twitter Can Teach You About Your Dysfunctional Business.  Integrating social media into a cohesive communication strategy is tricky.  If your organization is having trouble with this it does not automatically mean your business is dysfunctional.  I recommend watching the 2 1/2 minute video to get some good insights about the challenges with this and ways to mitigate the risks.

I am struck by the amount of information you can get through social media these days.  It really is a change in philosophy from traditional media.  The old (traditional) view was based on the notion that subscribers had to come to you.  That’s still the case and it is a struggle to get noticed.  However, social media enables you to leverage your followers’ preferences/interests to grow the number of people who can see your message.

Don’t try to understand it, just embrace it.

My point is to encourage you to not worry about who is reading your stuff.  Get it out there!

  • You must read blogs.  Everybody does.  Share what you read.
  • Comment on posts, especially my blog.  I know people read my blog.  Join the discussion.  The point of social media is to be SOCIAL.
  • Give me your feedback.  I want to know what attracted you here.   Tell me to take a flying leap if you want.  Don’t worry.  I’ll approve that comment if its done appropriately.

Here are some principles of social media from Thom Rainer.
Here are some recommendations for using images in social media.

My boss is on a major social media kick right now so I am partially posting this for his benefit. When you watch the video below keep track of how many different media outlets (social and otherwise) Chipotle uses to reach its customers.

Some of the statistics in the video are unbelievable.

H/T to GenYGirl.

According to recent research, “human memory is reorganizing where it goes for information, adapting to new computing technologies rather than relying purely on rote memory. We’re outsourcing “search” from our brains to our computers.”

Putting Google in the headline captures people’s attention but I believe we should consider the effect of social media too.  Our daily milieu includes RSS news feeds, Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, and blog posts.  How many of us use those tools to get information?  I do.

What are the implications for learning?  Ubiquitous access to information has expanded the phenomenon of informal learning.  Wikipedia describes informal learning as, “semi-structured and occur[ing] in a variety of places, such as learning at home, work, and through daily interactions and shared relationships among members of society.”  This is not new.  Wisdom has always been passed from generation to generation.  Everyone has taught and learned from our peers.

But there is a difference between simply consuming information and learning.  Surfing the web and staying informed via social media requires very little cognitive effort.  In Bloom’s taxonomy the lowest level of cognition is knowledge or remembering.  If the research cited above is accurate, the internet is causing us to remember less, in other words rely less on our memory.  Does this mean that we forget information as quickly as we take it in?  Probably not.  Years of cognitive research is clear that the brain stores the information we consume.  So how can we make use of this information?

One way is to blog.  Taking time to reflect on the substance of an article, news item, or other information moves your cognitive activity from knowledge to comprehension.  One step may not seem like a big deal but it the difference between being a consumer of information and actively engaging in learning.  I believe that is one of the under-appreciated aspects of blogging.  The process of writing this post not only has the potential of  influencing others (hopefully for the better) but it also enables me to integrate the substance of the article into my knowledge base.

The great thing is its free.  It didn’t require a budget, a meeting space or a team of developers.  All that is required is an engaged mind that does not simply consume information but is intentional in understanding what it is taking in.

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