Monday, 27 August 2007

Being Social Media Ready

As mentioned in my previous post, Facebook and other social media tools have been receiving some pretty bad (old) media attention lately, especially in relation to the loss of productivity of workers.

To a certain extent, I agree that this can be a issue with some people, but I think those people would find other ways to be unproductive if they weren't using Facebook. I'm sure they were just as unproductive before Facebook entered their lives.

The other day I came across this post by social media and networking expert (and PodCamp co-founder) Chris Brogan, which puts the issue of social media and productivity into perspective I think. Chris asserts that nowadays, if you "want to be considered for something, or if you want greatness to find you, or if you want to be part of all this great, amazing stuff going on", you need to be ready. Here are 5 ways in which Chris advises people to be ready:

  1. Make it easy for people to contact you.
  2. Make it easy for people to understand what value you bring
  3. Be there. It’s easier for people to include you.
  4. Be EVERYWHERE. Use social media tools.
  5. Have something to bring to the picnic.
I think this is great advice. It makes the claim that people are wasting their time using social media tools all the more ridiculous don't you think? Is it actually possible to really "be ready" these days without using social media tools on a regular basis? It really opens up a world of opportunities that would not exist without these tools.

I'm beginning to hear stories of people connecting through facebook for work and business purposes, as well as for play. Social media tools such as Facebook are becoming part of the way people make additional work connections. Connections are being made with people in regional offices, partner companies, with potential clients, with previous colleagues and even with potential recruits.

I myself have been able to take advantage of work opportunities secured through LinkedIn, and I've made numerous new work connections through Facebook and Twitter. I've even made contact with people working in US offices through a new work Ning network. I would not have made many of these new connections without the aid of social networking tools.


Connie Reece said...

The lines are blurring between work and play, professional and personal. I agree that people who are looking for opportunities to waste time online are going to find them, whether it's playing solitaire or surfing social media sites. But for a growing number of us, social media spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. are where we have fun WHILE we're doing business and making connections.

jj said...

Agreed Connie,

It's a great way to have fun while doing business, and the lines are becoming blurred between professional and personal.

Your mention of solitaire also reminds me of film I saw the other day. I had the unfortunate experience of seeing (just the beginning) of the 1998 film 'You've Got Mail'. One of the first lines of the film mentions a newspaper article about how a whole company was being banned from playing solitaire because it was supposedly impacting productivity. Although fictional, this was no doubt taken from the culture of the time.

This sounds quite a lot like the situation we have now, with people (mostly traditional media) becoming a little hysterical about the use of Facebook. Needless to say, in general, companies didn't end up suffering just because people started enjoying different forms of interactivity in the 90s, quite the opposite. You would have to question the use of playing solitaire during work hours though I'd have to say - not quite as useful and using social media!

As you say, new social media spaces can be a new way of actually helping business, not hindering it. See you on Twitter and Facebook Connie ;)

eskimo_sparky said...

Interesting post thanks John.

I can't help but agree with Chris Brogan's thoughts - adding value is important! - and, like Connie, I find that these networks are quite a fun way of working / playing.

Indeed, we probably need a new word to encapsulate the blurring of previously quite distinct realms of life. Perhaps "Worying"? No - a bit too negative and close to worrying. "Workying" - no, not quite right.

How about Plorking or Plarking? The latter incorporates lark, which seems to tie in with the necessity for employers in this "war for talent" age to incorporate enjoyment into their offering to employees.

As a recruiter (amongst other things), I certainly see companies that are good at creating fun environments and others that aren't.

The former typically appear to be more tolerant of what their employees post on the Interweb via Facebook (etc.); they recognise that they're real people.

The latter don't seem to get this and often apply very rigid policies. I can sort of understand that for some industries but have a lot of difficulty for most.

And does posting "crazy" publically viewable pictures etc. impact my thoughts when headhunting candidates? I like to think it doesn't, although I note that (at this brief moment in time) this is a minority view within the recruitment game.

For mine, I like to think of it as a way of gaining more insight and being real. And that helps me to make the right match.

Okay, I need to get back to the plarking...

Markus Hafner
At Twitter
At Facebook
At Plark

jj said...

Good point. I think people do need to be aware that whatever they post in social media could and probably will be seen by future employers, work colleagues, recruiters etc.

I think people need to always remember that, even in the 'walled garden' of Facebook. Using social media these days is partly about personal branding, so it's worth asking yourself the question - how do you want your personal brand to be represented online?

...but that's a post for another time.

Stephen Collins said...

John, I have to agree with you, Chris Brogan (who I also read) and particularly on you comment about your social presence online being personal branding. I posted this morning on a number of factors in this area -

Chris Brogan said...

Wow, you have some GREAT commenters on your blog! What an active and engaged community here. I wanted to say something, but was struck by how thoughtful everyone was.

The thing about all this social stuff is it helps us get to where the conversation is happening. It's not about our sites. It's about being where the conversation is. Right?

So that's how I justify using all those crazy tools. : )

Love your thoughts on this, jj, especially the extra stuff in the comments section.