All of the Tools

There was an interesting post the other day on Shel Holtz’s great PR
blog

about how companies block access to social media websites on their
networks. (There’s almost always something interesting on Mr. Holtz’s
blog, by the way.)

(Begin rant)

So yeah, this type of behavior is pointless. And counterproductive.
Mr. Holtz points out NINE different ways employees having access to
social media can help their business:

  • Recruiting
  • Idea testing and decision support
  • Brand and product/service evangelism
  • Reinforcing organizational culture and values
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Content curation
  • Access to subject matter experts
  • Training
  • Having a voice in processes that could affect the employee’s industry

In fact, Mr. Holtz gives two concrete examples of why employees
legitimately need access—at work—to social media websites:

Two recently formed groups are the culprits. Both are work-related. The first is the home to a largely intellectual discussion of how Wikipedia can work more closely with official representatives of organizations to ensure their companiesí entries are accurate and up-to-date. Wikipediaís founder and Wikia owner Jimmy Wales has joined the closed group and the discussions with him have been mostly respectful, with information and ideas moving in both directions. Edelman Digital Senior Vice President Phil Gomes started the group after posting an open letter to Wales about the situation on his blog.

The second group, also a closed group, is one I started along with Joe Thornley, CEO of Thornley Fallis Group, as a place for the 80-plus participants of an eight-week IABC training program in social media to gather.

The problem?

I was chagrined when one of the participants in the IABC program expressed her dismay that Facebook would be the home for our discussions. Her company, she said, blocks Facebook. Her participation in the class that sheís taking for work purposes, and for which her company is paying, will have to wait until she gets home.

And now you’re saying, but Jim, those folks are in the private sector.
They don’t have the crushing responsibilities and dictates that we in
government have. How about another scenario? One that I personally was
involved in, and could have only happened because we have access to
social media website at work.

You remember the bomb threats in cargo holds of
planes

from last year? Philly airport, Newark airport? Printer inks from
Yemen? Well, here in the Health Department, we think that’s pretty
important. Something to keep an eye on, I would say. Well, I heard
about it before anyone else in the Department. And I told my Program
Manager, my Division Director and the Commissioner’s Office. And then
I conducted some pretty hardcore social media monitoring, and kept
them posted on what was going on on the ground throughout the event.
And they could respond truthfully and knowingly about maintaining
situational awareness on the problem. We were leaning forward. And
only because I was on Twitter.

Another story? Okay, but just one more before bed. It’s H1N1 season.
The pandemic is just starting to kick off here and we’ve got limited
supplies of vaccine, and we’re pushing hard to make sure that all of
the priority groups get access to that vaccine. And some lady comes
into one of our clinics and gets her vaccine, but the nurses say that
her child cannot. Not in the priority group. (Which you’ll remember is
wrong.) She reached out to us via our newly set up Twitter account and
asked if that was true. (Obviously not.) We apologized, made sure she
knew where her child could get the vaccine, and began to retrain all
of the nurses at that clinic. How many more folks in priority groups
would we have missed if we weren’t monitoring social media? Would our
response have been less meaningful if she had to wait until one of us
got home and reviewed all of the comments we got that day?

Counterproductive.

And pointless. Because your employees are already on social media.
During the day. At work. In their cubicles and offices. Mashable says
so right here

The three biggest [Facebook] usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.

I know the economy is bad, but some of those folks are at work and on
Facebook. How? Blackberries. iPhones. Android phones. All restricting
access does is force people to waste time figuring out ways around the
firewall—which actually makes them less productive.

One day we’ll get there, but for now? Question why social media is restricted.

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All of the Tools

One thought on “All of the Tools

  1. Nedra says:

    I hear this complaint often (mostly among government employees), though it seems as time goes on more and more employers are starting to understand that this “social media thing” is not just about playing Farmville and chatting with friends. I think posts like this with concrete examples are the kind of thing that will help those roadblocking administrators understand how much more effective they can be than if they just stick with business as usual.I would add several more points to the list of how social media can help your business:- Building your professional network can lead to opportunities for new business and strategic partnerships- You can directly listen and respond to your constituents, the people you are ostensibly there to serve (customer service, what a concept!)- You can establish your organization as a thought leader in the industrySometimes the biggest opportunities come as a result of relationships that have been built over time online, often through non-work-related chit-chat. Social media is the new golf.

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