Interesting primer on the phenomena of Social Media e-Ruption, which discusses the spreading influence of social media across demographics and professional spaces. The article cites 7-main benefits of social media spaces:
- Socialization – catch up with those kids from high school 20-years later that you never talked to in high school but are still curious to know what they are doing. This is great until an old girlfriend posts a picture of you from when you were 17 wearing a crazy dashiki, circa 1969 and baggy pants, with a huge Jewfro, looking very … um “relaxed” as you watch the flood of comments from your friends list build up below it (not that this happened to me or anything like that …)
- Enhance customer loyalty w/direct communication – “tell us what you really think,” now you don’t have to call customer service to complain – just friend the CEO and let her have it. This works well when companies use the feedback as a forum to improve products, innovate, and get customer pulse about the future. It fails when used as a means of “doing what all the kids are doing now.”
- Open communication in organizations – as someone who uses social media for work purposes , I can tell you it is great tool for centralizing of ideas, but getting people to participate can be like drawing blood from a stone, if the team does not engage. Finding natural ways to use the space is key. For example, a main function of our team wiki is keeping individual’s status sheets. This simple use puts the employee in the wiki every few days and makes growing the space a relevant and natural occurance, (you can’t FORCE people to be social – it just doesn’t work).
- Opens the Door to Innovation – HBR published an article in the Nov. 2008 issue titled “Teaming Up to Crack Innovation Enterprise Integration.” They suggest two distinct groups that must be created for this purpose: a Distributed Innovation Group and an Enterprise Integration Group. The Innovation Group scouts new ideas, seraches untapped potential in current internal tech, scans outside for new tech, facilitates idea fourms, serves as the center of innovation expertise, publicizes progress, and procures funding. The Integration Group coordinates a portfolio of innovation, serves as a center of expertise for process management, staffing, and architecture, and determines how future operations can link in to the network. A social media space can help coordinate such efforts – especially among separate operations like these.
- Transparent Government – this has been a favorite tactic of President Obama’s: using social tech to make himself more familiar to the American people. His recent online townhall (see post: Obama’s Firewalled Chat) did this brilliantly. I have participated in many virtual corporate town halls over the years, yet I found they paled in comprarison to what Obama accomplished, even if the effect was mere illusion. By leveraging the social media aspect of tech, he had citizens submit questions, vote on which they wanted him to answer, and then picked the top 4. President Obama even recongized, yet hashed over (pun intended) a popular question about legalizing marijuana. While I did not submit a question, I still felt a level of engagement to the town hall that I have not experienced in others just knowing that real people could have a hand in what was addressed. This is e-democracy at is finest, and something corprate town halls can learn from.
- Empowers governments to mobilize citizens – see # 5 above.
- Political & business leaders can control their brand – social media takes the top dogs out of the ivory tower and puts them in the digital playground with the rest of us. Not to say that they are listening to every half-cocked comment about why their soft drink tasks like garbage or how bad the cell service is on their network, but leaders have an inexpensive way of reaching out to the masses with social media that didn’t exist before.
Check out the IP Frontline article for their take on things.