If you're here in the DZone community, chances are your company already has a social media platform. Some here might say they have the best of the best, but those people are pretty biased. Me? Not biased at all and I think the one my company has is pretty great. (Pssst, it's Jive!)
There are some pretty cool platforms out there for use in organizations of all sizes. And even if your company isn't using one yet, chances are the tools you already have (e.g. SharePoint) are seeing more and more elements of social media added to them. My company implemented Jive (http://jivesoftware.com) in 2012 as our intranet platform and I have made good use of it in my role since then. Given that I lead an area that requires massive dissemination of information, large-scale change-management, and ongoing education of 65,000 people in over 100 countries, a social media platform is a godsend.
Not everyone feels the same as I do, though. Some grumble about it. "Oh, THAT? What a time-waster. We have work to do!" Even worse, I've heard "I don't let anyone on my team waste time using social media at work!"
I was recently asked to present to a group of communications professionals in my company about effectively embedding social media into one's role. My first response was "Someone wants to listen to me talk? GREAT - game on! I'm SO there!" Because, in case you haven't noticed, I like to talk.
As the day drew nearer, it occurred to me I'd be talking to people in Communications about how to communicate. That's when I panicked and rocked in the corner, because I am quite certain that they are all much more savvy about this stuff than I am. It's like having baked a cake a time or two and being asked to speak to a professional bakers about making a cake. At least in that case, I could console my anxiety with cake.
Still, they were going to let me talk so I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity! I just needed to know how to package my message in a way that let them know I didn't consider myself an expert in their field. I went with pizza. If I can't have cake, I'll at least have imaginary pizza.
Talking to people about how I leverage social media at work, to me, is like giving a lesson on how to make pizza. There are a million ways to make pizza - pan pizza, flat-bread, wood-fired, Chicago-style, New York style, St. Louis style (I'm partial to this kind, for reasons which may or may not be obvious), calzones, pizza rolls, et al. And there are an endless array of toppings that can be combined in new and interesting ways to change it up. Pineapple? Yes, pineapple. Sauces, types of cheeses, seasonings... I could go on and on.
Hang on, be right back - going to run and get me some pizza.
I told my Communications audience that I was merely showing them how I make pizza. It's not the only way, and it may not even be the best way. It's just one of many ways. I've learned a few things about making pizza along my path, having been social online for many years, and I planned to share those lessons with them. The presentation went well, and because one of my golden rules is to write something once and leverage it over and over, I thought I'd share with you, my new friends on the Jive community, what I talked with Internal Communications about.
- Social Media at work *IS* a business tool!
- Promoting your message has value to you, your boss, your department, and the company.
- In a geographic- and time-zone-diverse business world, social media bridges gaps.
- Better collaboration is built upon relationships of trust, which are build upon many small interactions that add up over time. Social media accomplishes that.
- Not only will your company and department benefit from your engagement, but you will too. Connecting with new people could lead to opportunities for you and increase your satisfaction in your job.
- Don’t think you have to ‘keep up’ or read it all on your workplace social network. You can't. That's like drinking from the fire hose, my friends. Don't do it.
- A good approach: carefully choose a few people, blogs, and groups to follow closely and contribute to them regularly with comments, likes, questions, answers, et. al.
- Create custom-streams to make it easy to dive deeper into certain areas.
- If you blog, be sure to share and promote your blog posts in other places. A stand-alone blog is hard to get going. Once you write it, you have to pimp it out.
- Don’t be afraid to extend yourself – participate in different areas of the business with people you don’t know. It’s OK. Really. Jump right in - the water is fine!
- Link to others – people, groups, blogs, within your material. That’s how you feed into the system – you’ll get back what you give.
- Manage your online reputation. It’s a public, written record. Don’t post what you don’t want your boss or boss’s boss or boss's boss's boss to read.
- It’s good to share our humanity with each other – we need not be all business, all the time. Be human, flaws and all. Don’t be scared to be vulnerable, ask a question, share an opinion.
- Some communications are written in a formal business style and always will be. Find the places where you can let your personality shine in your writing. That’s what people connect with!
- Write it once, get it out there, then leverage the heck out of it. Writing and publishing it are just the beginning. You get value from it by continuing to shine a light on it.
- It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. Do a little bit here, a little bit there – it adds up over time!
These bullets were the pepperoni of my pizza-making presentation - some people ate them up and some people set a few of them neatly on the edge of their plates. Perhaps some thought I was a little too spicy. It's merely my view of things, based on my pizza-making experience, and as with everything, subject to debate, disagreement, or adulation. (I'm quite partial to adulation, by the way.)
In the session I delivered to the Internal Communications group, there was a lot of discussion about how to get the engagement of your readers. My view is that social media is personal. While we write formally for business quite often, we should find times and places to share less formally - to let our personalities come through. When we tell our stories, we should think about how we want people to feel, give them a way to connect emotionally to the story.
When you think back on advertisements you've seen over the years, which stand out? Are they the ones that made you laugh? Cry? Sigh? What about the ones that just gave you the dry information - do those stand out, even if grammatically correct and flawless according to Strunk and White? One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou:
In my free time, I am available for social-media coaching for the mere price of a slice of pizza. Or cake.