Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Social Business"

So there's social media and there's business, y'see.  And for the most part, businesses don't much care for social media because someone's told them they suck productivity out of employees like eating lemons sucks your cheeks in.  In fact, a lotta for-profit companies ban the use of social media (and games) on company-owned assets, while attached to the company network, and during company time.

Games? Yeah, Is see that, I suppose.  But it still goes back to the age-old Solitaire issue; you wouldn't have to spend the extra hours to strip it off every workstation if you had good managers who had a clue what their employees are doing all day.  Good management solves a lot.  But apparently it isn't found often.

But social media?  Sure, have a social media policy; limit time spent on social media to the exclusion of real work and make employees go through Corporate Communications before they post something about the company. But really?  In avoiding the possibility of a negative comment, you're precluding the good stuff.  You don't want Facebook to know that your employees enjoy working for you?  That they have good days at work?  That they feel trusted and empowered?  Your loss.

Undoubtedly every organization has a public-facing Communications person or department.  Undoubtedly that person or department is engaging in some form of social media to the good of the organization.  And undoubtedly that single entity cannot possibly convey the expertise that employees individually possess.  But Communications doesn't know what folks are up to (c'mon, if a manager doesn't, this crew has no chance) or even what kind of information the social sphere wants to know.

The best possible course of action for a forward-thinking organization would be to marry up the corporate social presence with their internal knowledge bank (employees).  That means letting employees say what they have to say to the world through whatever avenue is being listened to at the moment.  Even letting some of it be negative.  That's truth, baby -- TRUTH.  That kind of candor is gold.  Organizations can't PAY for that kind of honest, transparent public image.  Not even if they hire the best marketers.

Now you might think that embracing social media would add chaos to the organization.  And you might be a teensy bit right.  But embracing change (including a bit of chaos) is not only necessary in today's business world, but also smart.  Mark Fidelman wrote an excellent article about why IBM is in better market shape than Apple.  There were GRAPHS and CHARTS, so you know it's all true.  (wink)

This article alone should convince a tight organization to loosen up a bit when it comes to social media.

Evolve or die, I say.  Y'see?

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