Top Ten Myths about Social Media (the last Five)

#6 People will never adopt these tools; they like email too much. People still love their email. As much as people complain about it; they can’t live without it. Adoption of social tools is not automatic, which is why you need a purpose, a plan and some marketing and communication behind them. But, the benefits of instantaneous, not having to remember or create emails groups is very appealing. Even employees without computers are getting in the game. Truckers now use their mobile devices to update their status and respond to questions from fellow truckers. You couldn’t take that away from them if your tried!

#7 People don’t need any training; everyone knows how this stuff works by now! Despite all the hype, some people really don’t know how to navigate the tools or are afraid to try. Holding a virtual lunch n’ learn is not a waste of time to remove any barriers and get people started.

#8 Social media adds too many channels to an already complicated communication picture. Yes…social media do add more tools to what might be a heavy toolbox. The question should be: what can social media tools enable you to do that others can’t? Can you replace some of your existing tools with social media? Are you using a custom-built executive blog that a different technology could remove some of the manual work and enable others to join the blogging experience. Could a wiki decrease confusion that a project folder on a shared drive causes today?

#9 Every company HAS to have social media no matter what their challenges; it is the wave of the future. While I sort of believe this viewpoint for many reasons, I do think defining your needs and deciding whether or not social media meets those needs is the proper methodology. If shared drives or SharePoint sites really meet your needs, then maybe you don’t have a good business reason for starting wikis, and that’s okay. It’s about solving business problems, not just implementing the latest craze. However, if a company’s need is around collaboration, social tools are a perfect solution.

#10 Social media is a time waster.Even though social media is pervasive, a lot of leaders still feel it can be a time-waster and, therefore, block access to consumer sites and discourage the use of blogs internally except for managed leadership ones. Your employees are engaging with these tools anyway, and forcing them to do it on their mobile devices on lunch doesn’t help. Why not empower people to jump in on conversations on behalf of your company? And, using these tools behind the firewall won’t waste time…just the opposite. With its easy interface and instantaneous delivery, these tools SAVE time.

Final Note: When economic times change, people will have more employment options, and I think access to these type of tools and resources will matter to those seeking opportunity.

So, What Do I Use This Tool For Again?

So, let me get this straight. I use a wiki to create project agendas but a SharePoint site to store my project management documents. I go to YouTube for our corporate videos and Flickr to contribute to our “fun” employee photo library. Then, I jump to the discussion forums to share and comment on ideas but if I want to quickly ask a question of my colleagues, I go to Yammer. I should read and respond to blogs on various topics and share my expertise. Oh, then, I have to update my profile (should I update LinkedIn and Facebook too?). And, what do I use Instant Messenger for again? Help!

Yep. Another victim of tool fatigue.

Sure. You can provide a link farm on your Intranet so people don’t have to remember the URLs of each tool but each interface looks different and people will struggle to remember all the cutesy brand names for each point solution you have. You could also provide a quick reference guide – a When to Use What cheat sheet. This can work reasonably well.

But, I really think we need to define objectives as to why we have all of these tools. There is something to trying them out to see what sticks. I whole-heartedly advocate for that but, in the long run, consolidation and streamlining become important to support the efficiencies these tools were invented to create in the first place.

Your employees need you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are people comfortable with other people changing their work? Then, by all means, implement wikis. If version control and levels of security are critical, then don’t.
  • Do you have to have Yammer AND Discussion Forums? No! Choose one. Are threaded discussions necessary to keep replies nested under the original discussion or are quick quips and limiting people to 140 characters essential?
  • Is there one system for storing documents and then set appropriate security settings? I hope the answer is yes but I know how difficult this can be.  Strive for this!  Don’t make people guess which system to store their documents in.
  • Can profiles, blogs and status updates be the same solution? Yes!There are tools like Jive and NewsGator Social Sites that offer this.
  • Integration, integration, integration. There is a reason SharePoint is so popular. It may not have everything but there are plug-ins that complement the interface for just about any need.
  • Try and limit to two solutions – One for storing my work as an individual and on teams, and one for information about me specifically…that’s it.

Keep it simple for the people who have to work. After all, these tools are supposed to help makes things easier not confuse people.