Mar 10, 2009

Social networking and business

Many of the social networking sites will eventually become part of the standard work environment. Already, you can see some businesses taking advantage of the instant nature of Twitter. Dell, for example, is using it to expand ins customer service offerings. I have dealt with companies who have used instant messaging as a way to keep people updated on the status of various projects and troubleshooting situations.

I remember when email and the Internet were also a fad that would never take hold. Today in the Globe and Mail, there was an article showing that social media had passed email in overall Internet activity (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090310.COMPUTERS10/TPStory).

I think most businesses are afraid of these tools because the leaders do not use them nor understand them. As younger generations take over, or launch their new companies, these tools will become more entrenched in the overall business processes.

Social networking tools can be seen as a competitive advantage to prospective employees. Sure, in the current economic climate, that may not mean much, but once things improve (and they will) it can be enough to make your best new recruits bolt to another employer offering more bells and whistles.

So how can they be useful, and not become time wasters? The same way the Web managed to be come a useful tool: minimal control processes, accompanied by lots of education.

2 comments:

  1. I think you made a point out there.. Thanks for sharing this insightful post. I believe that we should make the best out of social media. There are many social networking sites out there,tips and tools that we can use to increase the potential of our business. Looking forward to reading other great posts..

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  2. Holly,

    Yes, there is a lot of information out there, and I believe that helps fuel the fear. There is SO much information that many people aren't sure where to turn.

    Companies fear loss of productivity from employees wasting too much time on these tools. But I think that can be managed. I assume (naively or not) that most employees are there to perform their job, and perform it well.

    Social networking can get in the way if employees find it more relevant than the work they are doing. In which case, employers may need to pay closer attention to the work they give their employees: is it menial and mind-numbing or interesting and challenging?

    The biggest risk with social networking is probably security. How do you make sure that important information does not get posted to Facebook or Twitter? How do you prevent worms and viruses (like the recent Facebook virus) from penetrating the company's systems?

    The latter requires more processes, automation and detection mechanisms. The former requires self-questioning and adaptability. Both require educating management and employees.

    Thanks for your comment,

    L

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