Jane Hart is spearheading an effort to collect information on why you should NOT ban social media in your organization. Below, my rebuttals to the reasons most commonly given by organizations to keep social media out.
Social media is a fad.
While specific tools may be more or less popular at any given time or in a particular industry, the principles of social media
are here to stay. Conversations, transparency, relationships, authenticity, and making information easily accessible and available are not only important aspects of social media, they are increasingly becoming the way that the most successful businesses thrive in the new economy. The genie is out and he's not getting back in the bottle.
It's about controlling the message.
You're right--it's about controlling the message. But HOW you control it has changed. You can try brute force and rigid boundaries, but that doesn't work very well anymore. Just ask BP. In a world where information and the tools for sharing it are freely available, you will never be able to control everything that's said about you. But you CAN listen and respond in a way that you were never able to before. You can find out where the problems are, what people are complaining about and then, through your responses, you can control how these issues are perceived. You can't control the message, but through social media, you CAN control perceptions.
Employees will goof off.
You're right. Staff WILL goof off. But here's something great about social media that I don't think you've realized. Did you know with social media you can actually monitor goofing off even BETTER? I can't tell if you played solitaire on your laptop unless I actually catch you doing it. But I CAN tell if you uploaded your vacation photos or played Farmville on Facebook during work hours. I don't know if you spent an hour on the phone to your sister. But I CAN see if you were tweeting about lunch and your favorite episode of Glee when you were supposed to be working on that report. See? Social media is actually your greatest dream--documented proof of all the ways your staff is screwing around! The faster you get them on there, the quicker you'll be able to prove what you've suspected all along!
Social Media is a time waster.
Actually, used appropriately, social media is a time saver. I can spend an hour searching through my desktop and the company intranet for an answer to a question or I can post it to Twitter and get a response in a few minutes. I can spend 15 minutes trying to find the latest version of that report or I can go to the company wiki and know that what I find there is where things are at. Social media is a time waster when we don't know how to use it properly. When we do, it can be one of the most effective ways to get work done
Social media has no business purpose.
The last time I checked, business was about interacting with customers and getting work done efficiently and effectively. Social media can help you do both. Social media is a tool, like a phone or a laptop. And, like a phone or a laptop, it can be used for personal or business-related reasons. If you don't see the business purpose behind its use, then you need to do a little more reading.
Employees can't be trusted.
You are SO right here. Employees simply cannot be trusted. If you aren't careful, they might run off and do something crazy like set up a Twitter account that in a few short months changes your company's image from a joke to a customer service case study in excellence. Better that they play solitaire on their company-approved laptop. At least you know what they're up to.
Is it just the Millenials who are using social media? According to these stats, the 35-55 age group is making some pretty healthy use of it, too. That's why social networking now outranks email in terms of how Americans are spending their time online. So don't do it for the Millenials. Do it for all of your workforce.
Don't cave into the demands of the millennials.
Your teams already share knowledge effectively.
That's because they're using social media on their personal smart phones
and via work-arounds, like proxies. They're using social media on the DL. You just don't know it.
You'll get viruses.
You might, unless 1) your IT department stays on top of the latest patches, which they should be doing anyway and 2) you don't communicate with your staff about how to avoid malware attacks. Also, if you insist on using PCs rather than Macs.
Your competition isn't using it, so why should
If your decision about whether or not to engage in a business activity is based on whether or not your competition is doing it, then you have much bigger business problems than social media to address. Last I checked, one of the key tenets in business was to be the FIRST one to do something innovative, not the last. If your competition isn't using social media, you, in fact, have a golden opportunity to be first in class. I'd suggest that you seize it.