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    Entries in Social Media (43)

    Monday
    Sep142009

    No I Won't be Your Fan

    Paraphrasing some recent comments from a C-suite executive in charge of all the corporate 'support' functions (HR, Finance, Procurement) at a mid-size organization:

    We need to be on Facebook, everyone in the organization has a Facebook profile, so I want our group to have a Facebook page.  Let me know when I can see it.

    Sound familiar?

    Using Facebook, or any other 'external' social platform for 'official' internal communications is an interesting idea, but I wonder if it really makes sense, particularly for corporate support functions like HR or Finance.

    Note: I am not talking about using Facebook and the like for recruiting; there are precedents, case studies, even 'summits' that are largely about recruiting on social networks.

    I am strictly speaking about classic 'internal' communications, the kind that are typically sent via blast e-mail or posted on an intranet. So should the average organization spend time and effort setting up a Facebook fan page for these purposes?

    Reasons why this makes sense

    Audience- Everyone is on Facebook. Well, probably not everyone, but the minute you got a friend request from Grandma you got the impression that most all of your employees are on Facebook.

    We get it- Setting up a Facebook fan page is free, can be done very quickly, and is a baby step into the new social world. Some organizations may think that setting up the fan page signals to employees that that management 'gets it', and is aware of the growing influence of social networks in business.

    Connection - If all the organization relies on mass e-mails and a static intranet for employee communications, any platform or tool that offers the potential for a more vibrant and participatory exchange of information is bound to be an improvement. You might truly generate some positive interaction with your 'fans' and increase the interest in your communications.Flickr - podiluska

    Reasons why this is dumb

    Tools first -The 'we need to be on Facebook' declaration strongly implies a 'tools first' approach to the problem.  What is the real issue you are trying to solve? What business outcome are you hoping to achieve?  It could be that the answers to those questions may lead you to a different solution, an internal executive blog, a series of podcasts, a 'live' radio show, or good old-fashioned town-hall meetings with the employees.  Yes, creating a Facebook page may be the right answer, but don't begin with the conclusion already determined.

    Ownership- You don't own the platform, the terms of service can change at any time, ads run on the sidebars you can't control, basically you have to be comfortable with a 'lack of control' that most organizations frankly are not all that comfortable with. 

    Productivity- By setting up an 'official' communications forum on Facebook you will be seen as approving and encouraging the use of social networks on company time.  Are you sure your company understands the implications of that? Are you the kind of company that worries about a drop in productivity if employees are messing about on Facebook all day? When a manager notices someone on Facebook how can they be sure if the employee is listening to the latest video interview from the CEO or playing Mafia Wars?

    Apathy- The people that you are targeting may not be interested in being a 'fan'.  In fact, you might find that you have lots of employees that are active users of Facebook that resent the fact that you are trying to 'invade' a social network with official corporate communications. In the example I referred to at the start of the post, several employees told me that there is no way they would become a 'fan' of the official company pages, as they were concerned that somehow the executives would use the platform as a means to 'spy' on the employee's after-hours activities.

    Conclusion

    Using Facebook (or really any other external social network) for internal organizational communication might be a good idea for some firms, but without really understanding the desired business outcomes, the organization's attitude and cultural position on social networks at work, and the perceptions of the target audience then simply 'setting up shop' on Facebook seems more like a 'check this off the list' activity for someone.  For the group I was talking to, it seemed to me that more personal communication and interaction with the executives was what the employees were really looking for.  A simple internal blog authored by members of the leadership team, and that allows employee comments and discussions in my opinion was a much better solution than a Facebook page.

    That requires commitment from leadership, and an expenditure of their time and energy.  But for this organization, an authentic message from leadership would be much more meaningful than the chance to be their 'fan' on Facebook.

    If you have any examples or opinions on organizations using Facebook or other external networks for 'internal' communications I would love to hear about them. 

     

    Tuesday
    Sep082009

    Majoring in Facebook

    Saw this article via a Tweet from the really cool folks at Socialcast,

    Oshkosh creates new social networking major

    Classes will revolve around technology, publicity, outreach

    The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is creating a major in social networking. The course of study, expected to launch in 2010, is meant to provide students both the technical and 'business' perspectives on the use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Program designers are trying to attract students to Oshkosh that might not have previously considered the school.

    The full article can be found on the Badger Herald site.

    Most every college has elements of social networking interspersed among various programs. Public Relations, Internet Marketing, Graphic Design, Journalism, and Advertising programs all typically include aspects of social networking. Curiously, most courses of study in Human Resources have not incorporated much social networking content.  My HR Technology class does include some discussion of internal and external social networking in the contexts of recruiting, performance management, and workforce collaboration, but truly even my class does not spend nearly enough time on the topic.

    I have wondered in the past if I should try and create an entire class in the HR program to concentrate completely on social networking and so-called Enterprise 2.0 technologies, and now that Oshkosh is pioneering with an entire major in the subject, I think it is time to re-visit my idea and try to get such a course created and delivered.  I had a guest post last week on the Fistful of Talent where I took the position that current and future HR leaders have to get educated in this area in order to be in position to leverage these emerging technologies effectively.

    What do you think, should a Human Resources program have a dedicated Social Networking course?

    And if so, what specific topics should be included?

     

    Sunday
    Aug162009

    Does Social Media influence your participation?

    I read an interesting article that theorized that many academic journals and paid subscription based publications are under increasing pressure due to their 'closed' nature.

    The basic premise was that since articles in many of these publications can't be linked to, blogged about, tweeted, and otherwise publicly shared that many authors will begin to seek alternate mediums for Flickr - Tochispublication.

    It makes sense; if you are really interested in building your personal brand, and enhancing your credentials to the widest possible audience, should you write for academic journals that only a very few choose to pay for, and whose content can't be widely distributed? Or would you choose to blog, conduct webinars, or produce e-books that can achieve much wider distribution.

    The same argument could be made for academic and professional conferences.  Would you be less willing to attend or speak at a conference or event if you thought no one would be live blogging, tweeting, streaming and otherwise promoting your appearance?  Is it enough just to reach the 50 or 100 folks in the room that day? Or does your session have to be streamed, tweeted, and blogged for maximum exposure?

    I am interested in knowing - how does social media coverage affect what events you attend and where you distribute your content?

     

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