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Social media - part 2

The benefits of social media

Apart from the above example where it can be demonstrated that it improves productivity when we allow employees to use social media as a ‘diversion break’ from the concentration of their daily tasks, there are also the obvious benefits of ‘market intelligence”. By encouraging staff to get positive messages out there via Twitter, Facebook etc and also uncovering public opinion of your organisation that is being shared via social media, it is easy to see why organisations would permit and even encourage social media use.

Royston Seaward, a partner in Deloitte’s technology integration practice, says”

There are now many companies that are looking at taking the social media model and seeing how they can apply it both internally, as a way of connecting people across their organisation, and across their client and customer base. In many organisations this is being driven by staff and teams working together and taking the initiative themselves.

These changes appear to be coming from the bottom up. Mr Seaward says he hasn’t come across many examples where enlightened senior management teams are championing significant change from within.

One of the most inspiring presentations at the recent IT Service Management Fusion 10 USA conference was by a social media guru, who has built a business around helping organisations to use social media in ways we have not thought of before.

Read Part 1 - is social media a risky business?. Read Part 3 - risk management.

The ground-breaking concepts shared by ServiceSphere’s Chris Dancy makes one realise that this is not the time to ‘wait and see’ what will happen — we need to be a part of it, and embrace the opportunities afforded us by using the very human desire to communicate and share, and to use these tools when we need to enhance our means of communication, both within the organisation, and also with our external stakeholders.

And the latest statistics are compelling. According to Jacqui Levy in IBM’s Software Business Partners’ Blog:

“86% of B2B firms are already using social media, according to White Horse, and as Hitwise reports, 2010 was the year that Facebook finally overtook Google as the most visited website on the net. Social media is increasingly one of the preferred tools that people use to communicate with each other and interact with businesses….”

What is the purpose of communication in the workplace? To inform, to share.

When is it most effective?

When it is timely, relevant, and when we feel connected.

Our current attitude to workplace tools and systems is counter-intuitive for today’s needs. By embracing social media, and by engaging our staff, we not only exponentially improve access to timely and relevant information, but a very useful by-product is employee engagement, and as a result, retention.

Anyone who has a Gen-Y family member or a work colleague will recognise the difference in how they communicate, and they do it rapidly and effectively. They have already made email largely redundant in their arsenal of tools — why email when you can blog, tweet or post on Facebook? They intuitively know how to gain maximum exposure with minimum effort. If, as employers, we hamper them in their naturally inclined ways of communicating, the result will be frustrated, disengaged employees.

One of the major changes that we have seen in our work life is how we research. We now have information at our fingertips. Ready access to the world-wide-web means we can search newspapers, archives, and encyclopaedias online. Through social media we can also contact experts, politicians, world leaders, first hand! Never before has it been so easy to be opportunistic in business and product development and innovation. Market research is also at our fingertips – we can churn out a survey to our stakeholders, and get our responses back in timeframes that boggle the mind.

Part 1 - is social media really a risky business.

Breed Lewis is a director of Macanta Consulting, Melbourne, Australia. She can be contacted at breed.lewis@macanta.com.au or via www.macanta.com.au.

Stay tuned for Part 3 - Risk management and social media.

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