Thanks to Harold Jarche, we have a fun meme for people who are into social media. Let's counter those 10 top reasons to ban social media in the organization, based on Ron Desi's video from four months ago, Organizations should ban social media. And I'm not particularly into it as part of my business, I just think there are a lot of good ideas here for my personal practice as well as for the larger question of knowledge management.
My version of the rules to this game: create a counter to each of the reasons. Maybe the conversation shouldn't even be about these "reasons to ban" but should come up "reasons to use" social media.
Here are mine. I'm sure you can come up with your own set that are even better.
- Social media is a fad. In the long-term, everything is a fad. Does that mean it isn't helpful? The question is whether this particular fad has any value to us today. The argument I like the most is that social media (or Enterprise 2.0 or "this technology") gives us an ability to return to the heart of what organizations should be about: people working with each other. Social media is a great way to help people connect and engage with each other, especially when they no longer share physical space.
- It's about controlling the message. This one has very little connection for me. Within the organization there is no "message" to control. And outside the organization, plenty of other people are handling the message, both the company message as well as all the messages customers have about the company (which are often shared with these tools).
- Employees will goof off. And, so? How is this different from all the other ways we have of relaxing and taking a break? In business people are expected to be available nearly all the time, so we also need to give them a break if they need it, whether that is heading down the road for a coffee or checking their favorite blog. And by the way, many of those blogs have a business connection.
- Social Media is a time waster. And the 25% of time people spend hunting around on the corporate intranet is a good use of time? Maybe if I could ask a question and get a direct answer, I could be more productive.
- Social media has no business purpose. How about a few: connecting people in the organization; pulling people away from their over-stuffed email boxes; helping to answer questions on-the-spot. My participation with blogging and other social media has been deeply fulfilling and has helped me make business connections that I would have never made (or never even found). I'll let someone else talk about the benefits for public-facing social media.
- Employees can’t be trusted. 5, 7 and 8 are all saying the same thing, though this one says it more clearly. If you don't trust your employees, why are they employed? And if you don't trust them, I am fairly sure they know it already. Give them some appropriate, simple guidelines and let them have at it.
- Don't cave into the demands of the millennials. The generation argument is rather flimsy. Besides, they are all participating in social media on their phones, which you don't control anyway.
- Your teams already share knowledge effectively. Excellent. And how are they sharing that knowledge? E-mail traps knowledge and doesn't help it spread. The same goes for document management. Social media adds to the ability of people to find each other - people who can help solve problems and get those projects out the door.
- You'll get viruses. Another non-issue. Teach people responsible use of the internet. Oh, and make sure your IT group has the latest patches installed.
- Your competition isn't using it, so why should you? You might want to ask that question again. Even the stodgiest companies have blogs, wikis and other pieces of the social media puzzle running. And, once again, your customers are probably using it to talk with other customers.
If you just want the list, here they are in reverse order. Go ahead and make your arguments. Or agree with the points, if that works for you.
- Social media is a fad.
- It's about controlling the message.
- Employees will goof off.
- Social Media is a time waster.
- Social media has no business purpose.
- Employees can't be trusted.
- Don't cave into the demands of the millennials.
- Your teams already share knowledge effectively.
- You'll get viruses.
- Your competition isn't using it, so why should you?
And here is the video embedded, in case you haven't watched it already. Be prepared to smile - Ron Desi has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
[Photo: "fad" by Max Boschini]