Social Media Tools at Work – Part 4

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 4 of the discussion:
Third
, translate your ideas into soft benefits that matter to your organization:
• Increased staff morale
• Increased customer satisfaction
• Better team cohesion
• The establishment of a team state of mind
• The enhancement of an organizational culture that is positive, supportive, creative and efficient
• A “no blame” environment
• Decentralized authority
• Greater individual autonomy (very important for “high knowledge” type work)

Fourth, perform some risk analysis. Best practice is to consider both positive and negative risks.
Possible negative risks:
• Compromised information security
• Loss of intellectual capital
• Wasted staff time spent on the internet
• Blogging without any measurable benefits
• Difficulty measuring the cost/benefit ratio of implemented tools
Possible positive risks:
• Staff find unexpected ways to use social media tools that benefit the organization
• Intellectual capital is better leveraged
o Some large organizations like Procter & Gamble have used online wikis to gain insight from the public when trying to solve problems and encourage ingenuity (in the past, such actions would have been deemed a security risk)
• Customer involvement increases along with customer satisfaction
• Internal workflow increases task efficiency and overall productivity

With a balanced argument listing some of the above mentioned pros, projected hard and soft benefits and the expectation of a low overall cost to get into the game, how can you go wrong? A word of advice, if you decide to go ahead with social media tools, put the time in to create a good implementation plan and you will reap the rewards tenfold. Additionally, tie some of your performance metrics to the use of your social media tools to encourage the right behaviors.

Larry T. Barnard

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