Social Media Tools At Work – Part 2

Social Media Tools: Applicable at Work or Not?
Working as a project management consultant, I’m often asked about some of the “new” social media tools available to organizations. What are the BEST tools? How can they help? Are they worth it? If you’re thinking about whether or not to apply social media tools at work, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at what’s going on in the world, what tools are available, the pros and cons, and how to sell your ideas to upper management. I’ll spread this discussion over the next four blogs.
Part 2 of the discussion:

The next question is typically, “what are the pros and cons of using social media tools in the workplace, and should we be using them?”

The “Top Ten Pros” of applying social media tools in the workplace are:
1. Increased customer involvement
2. Greater connectivity between staff, managers, partners and customers
3. Access to real time information exchange through blogs, tweets and wikis
4. Ability for project/task updates with wireless devices linked to social media tools that are linked to online data bases
5. Increased flow of information exchange through discussion boards
6. Better leverage of co-located teams whether they are located in different buildings, different cities, or different countries
7. Supports a wider variety of preferred communication styles, whether people are visual, auditory or kinesthetic
8. Enables instant collaboration
9. Enhanced knowledge transfer
10. COSTS: low financial, training and implementation threshold for entry and maintenance

Additional pros that may apply to your organization:
• Increased individual, team and departmental productivity
• Increased ingenuity and innovation by enabling teams, supporting staff and facilitating management networking
• Reduction of “complexity” through social networks and collaborative work. We live in an ever increasing complex world with shorter technological life cycles and greater connectivity worldwide between all system architectures
• Breaking down of global barriers of time and geographical distance
• Enables “chase-the-sun” workflow where people transfer workflow from time zone to time zone without ever stopping work
• Reduces travel costs for meetings, project updates, presentations, information flow and research
• Allows for increased transparency
• Reduces the need for traditional brick and mortar buildings
• Reduces the need for extensive IT infrastructure
o Staff and partners can work remotely and leverage external infrastructure, bandwidth, and up-to-date telecommunications services and technology
• Provides additional tools for training
• Extends the applicable communication tools available for implementation of new projects

The “Top Ten Cons” of applying social media tools in the workplace are:
1. People tend to resist change
2. Staff technophobes
3. Lack of buy-in from organization
4. Fear of:
a. security threats
b. compromising business continuity
c. not having the necessary competency to use current tools
d. transparency
e. others knowing what you know and what you don’t know
5. Misunderstandings between co-located staff that never talk to each other
6. Introverts may become more anti-social
7. Secret information may be leaked to the public
8. The press may misconstrue information shared through social media
9. Brand equity of the organization may be threatened by transparency
10. Online social networks decentralize authority and may challenge traditional forms or power within the organization

Next up – How to sell your ideas to upper management!

Larry T. Barnard

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