Social media in the workplace #productiveornot ?

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Photo by Yagan Kiely via Flickr

Another great post from the Crowden Communications Clan, this week, Alexander Crowden asks whether social media is #productiveornot.

A few years ago Twitter, Facebook and blogs (such as this one) were heavily frowned upon if not banned in many workplaces. Employees had to sneak behind the boss’s back to see what their friends were doing and see who had poked whom. Now that businesses have seen the light of social media’s massive potential, it seems in many fields of work, that social media is not only allowed but also openly encouraged.

Nearly every business wants to use social media to promote their brand, products and to tell everyone how they are helping YOUR community. The question that has often been raised; is social media helping companies or not? Putting on your consumer hat, most people will probably lean towards yes. We now know more about companies than ever before, and we get our information straight from the company itself without the filter of news media, often in 140 concise characters.

To a certain extent social media has made press releases, newspapers and news websites a little passé. By the time a newspaper ‘breaks’ a story, thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers have known about it for several hours and are already discussing it with friends and colleagues. In essence social media is a prime example of the ever changing communications field. The way information is given to the public, consumers and stakeholders is constantly evolving and communicators need to adapt and stay abreast of new technologies.

It is virtually impossible to avoid using social media if you are employed in the communications sector. From journalists to public relations practitioners, no matter your age, the chances are you are being encouraged (or forced) to use social media.

Getting your head around properly using Facebook or Twitter is tricky enough. Deciphering whether Twitter is worthwhile or just a procrastination tool is another matter altogether. The main challenge once you’ve got your head around the new technologies is how to use them effectively during your workday. Given the social media tap is always on, and topics always changing, looking away or logging off to do some ‘work’ can understandably be difficult.

How many tweets a day is too many? How can I fit what I need to say into 140 characters? Surely no one will notice if I start following Oprah even though she has nothing to do with my job? These questions can begin to take over. The victim is often your productivity. Balancing your normal work with social media is not an easy task. Not to mention how to define the line between personal and business matters.

No doubt social media is here to stay, and as communicators, like the majority of people in general, you’re going to have to get used to it. Social media engages the public in a way that has never been seen before. Therefore it has to be taken advantage of. The challenge remains how to use social media to your company’s advantage without sacrificing your own productivity.

Now hands up if you’re a social media addict? And are you reading this at work?

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2 responses »

  1. Social Media is great for content sharing, even in 140 characters. The problem remains though; are you being heard? Is your voice loud enough?
    In most cases this comes down to what it is exactly that you’re saying.
    Having many people following you on twitter is great, as well as following many others. However, with the massive stream of god knows how many tweets per second and refreshing your browser every other minute, chances of your voice disappearing is quite high.

    We wrote a blog about a social media survey we conducted, and the percentage of Australians admitting to using social media in the work place was exceptionally high:
    bit.ly/xYm9ok.

  2. Yep, I do agree that there is a thin line when it comes to social media use vs. productivity. I guess it all comes down to being savvy and use our common sense. To my opinion, social networks are no more than new communication channels that permit to reach the audience directly after more than 100 yrs mass media supremacy. Messages are no more unilateral and inbound marketing is becoming taller and taller in terms of budget expenses (and use) vs. traditional techniques. There’s the possibility of a two-sided conversation (or even debate) versus the one-sided puffery widely inoculated by costly Ad. messages.
    Social media is here to stay, that is a fact. The main issue I see is that many companies are trying to add social media and other inbound techniques to their old marketing mix. It won’t work. Companies should re-start from scratch. Things changed (and are changing) very rapidly, the old biz models require the flexibility of mind professed by the very same people that are stucked with the status quo.
    Companies should take their time and carefully assess if social media is a tool they can exploit, which platform is best for them, what to do, how to do it and the like.
    Internal flexibility is a master key factor to deal with change.
    All the best,
    Ciao
    Francesco

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