Deconstructing "How to Nail an Interview"

The other day I found How to Nail an Interview, a one-page website set up to describe the 22 Tips on Interviewing Steinar Skipsness learned as a result of a hidden camera experiment he set up:

What is it that certain people say or do during a job interview that makes them stand out? Why do some people struggle to find work, while others land a job in no time? I wanted to know, and the only way to find out was to experience the interview from the other side of the table. If I could be the one asking the interview questions, not answering, I could see first hand what made candidates stand out. I could then take that knowledge and cater my behavior in any future interview to give myself the best chance of getting hired.

First, I needed to create a "corporate presence." I found a company that rented office space by the hour. It was in a downtown Seattle high-rise, had a killer view, and came with a secretary, who'd call me once an interviewee arrived. It was perfect.

Next, I posted a job on craigslist for a marketing coordinator at a "soon to launch" web company. Literally minutes after the posting, resumes poured in, 142 on the first day, 356 in the first week.

Finally, giving the interview wasn't enough. I wanted to be able to go back, review the footage, and dissect answers, body language, everything, to really see what makes someone look good or bad. So before scheduling any interviews, I got online, bought a couple of small cameras, picked up a couple lamps and lamp shades, and with a drill, some super glue, a little bit of cardboard, and electric tape, I constructed 2 hidden camera lamps.

Of course to make sure everything was legally kosher, everyone was required to sign and fax back an appearance release waiver before an interview was scheduled. The reason, "some company meetings will be filmed and we needed proof you'd be comfortable appearing on a video blog if hired."

While the legality of Steinar's hidden camera approach may be in question, certainly the results are interesting and helpful in a cringe-inducing sort of way.

What caught my eye with this (besides the content) was the simple, streamlined set-up here--a single web page, brief lessons learned from the video-taped interviews and very brief video excerpts to illustrate several of the tips.This is something that could easily be done with a blog platform (Blogger comes to mind as a down-and-dirty choice) or on a wiki.

Although clearly this took time to pull together (28 interviews to cull through), something less elaborate could easily be done to support workplace learning, using videos, screencasts, etc. that have already been developed, either for other purposes within your organization or that are freely available online. You could also use your Flip video camera for quick, informal video that can be uploaded in a few clicks and then embedded into a blog or wiki, along with the tips.This format would also lend itself to an easy online Orientation session.

Taking off the designer hat and putting on the learner hat, I also see something like this as a culminating project for a training to both demonstrate learning and provide job aids or tips to other employees following the training.  Picture, for example, some kind of customer service training. Learners could do brief Flip videos of themselves illustrating various do's and don'ts and then embed those into a wiki or blog with their text tips.

On an individual level, this is the kind of format that might also work well with an online portfolio--maybe "10 Reasons to Hire Michele" or to illustrate a particular skill set you possess.

Nothing earth-shattering here, but the simple format really got me thinking about some different possibilities.


Enhancing What Social Media Does Right and Reducing What it Does Wrong

Via Workplace Learning Today comes this article on the distractions of tagging. Apparently, according to Erica Naone,  research indicates that tagging an article (as in Delicious) actually reduces our ability to remember what we've read:

Raluca Budiu, a user-experience specialist for the Nielsen Norman Group, asked the audience whether typing in tags for articles would help them remember key concepts. The answer, according to her research, is no. Users remembered less after typing in tags than after simply reading an article online.

On the surface, it seems like tags should be helpful, Budiu said, since they increase a user's engagement with an article. In addition to reading, the user considers what tags to give it and enters them. It sounds similar to highlighting key passages of a textbook, or making notes in the margin. So why should they reduce recall?

Budiu found that adding tags cut into the time that each user spent actually reading an article in the first place. In other words, paying attention to tags came at the cost of paying attention to the text.

Erica concludes:

For social media to truly work for us, we need to enhance what it does right and reduce what it does wrong.

This is a really important issue for learning that I think can get lost in the distraction of these shiny objects we call social media. Take Erica's tagging example. I love tagging. I do it all the time. But if I really think about it, I have tons of articles queued up in my Delicious account that I have either not read carefully or that I never return to again. In fact, I have a full list of articles in my Netvibes tagged "toread" that have never been read. Yet I somehow believe that the mere act of tagging has added to my knowledge base. Sadly the research makes me acknowledge that this is not so. 

Back to Erica's point that we need to enhance what social media does right and reduce what it does wrong. In the case of tagging, she points us to Spartag.us, which supports "easy keyword tagging directly over web content being browsed." This reduces the amount of time we spend tagging outside of the context of the article, thus increasing the amount of time we are actively engaging with it. An elegant solution to an insidious little problem.

But what of other social media distractions and issues?  I've written before about the dangers of homophily on the web and how social media tools actually promote "birds of a feather" syndrome. In part this is because the characteristics of social software draw together like-minded groups. Social media does a great job of helping us develop connections to people like us, but is less effective in promoting the diversity so necessary to innovation and creative thought. How do we address this, both in terms of actual tools that encourage exploration of diverse ideas and thought processes, as well as in terms of HOW we use existing social media tools?

Another issue is the noise to signal ratio. Many social media tools are inherently good at bringing in information, but you have to go looking for tools and strategies to then help you extract the most useful or interesting bits. One of the biggest complaints I hear from new users of social media is that the content quickly becomes overwhelming. It takes work and thought to manage this onslaught. Interestingly, the tools necessary to manage information overload are often separate from the tools that brought you the overload in the first place. I think of Twitter, for example, which seems to require users to go looking for third-party apps that allow them to use it most effectively. Why aren't these built in in the first place?

I also worry about the extent to which we integrate too many social media options into our learning. It's now possible to participate in a live learning event supported by liveblogging, a Twitter backchannel, text and IM discussions with colleagues in other locations, research and bookmarking on Delicious, electronic voting and the development of a wiki for resources--all at the same time. At what point does "active engagement" with the learning activity simply become "incredibly distracted"? And if some tool is to be excluded, which one should it be? Don't get me wrong. I fully support integration of social media into the learning experience, but also have reached a point where I think "at what cost?"

These are a couple of examples that come quickly to mind, but this is an issue that deserves further exploration.

Where do you see places we need to enhance what social media does right or reduce what it does wrong, particularly in regard to learning and professional development?


Social Media Baby Steps

Although I have little brain capacity to think new thoughts, it occurred to me yesterday on the drive home from a planning session with a client that I've begun to see some movement on the social media front. It seemed worth it to document this moment in time, since I usually just complain about how clueless people are.

  • I persuaded an association client to give up their outdated static website in favor of a blog. OK, so I'm writing the articles and we still aren't getting tons of comments, but baby steps, people. Baby steps.
  • This same group is also using wikis to manage their committee work. One of the members of the Association told me in a meeting that she "loved" the wiki. Her email was down, but she was still able to share key information with people through the wiki. Excellent!
  • I'm managing a couple of large projects with multiple subcommittees for two different clients. We're using wikis in both situations and it's saving us a ton of headaches. Although when I saw the 100+ documents one member of the team uploaded to our project site, my heart sank a little. There's still that whole issue of organizing the info into something that is coherent and usable.
  • I'm helping a group plan for a new website and for the first time, I wasn't the first person to mention the word "blog." They are actually very interested in using social media for their site and open to exploring how it can expand their connections to their customers. 

And finally, although not technically "new media," my normally tech-phobic clients have been whole-heartedly embracing my use of GoToMeeting to replace some of the face-to-face stuff they used to insist on. Several commented that they felt like we got more accomplished because there were no side conversations (apparently they haven't figured out the "private chat" feature yet).

This is an excellent development from my perspective, as it's saving us a lot of time. Only one person (out of about 40) has said he misses face-to-face. I'm thinking he may miss the food we usually provide. Maybe I should arrange for deliveries to all the online meeting participants. . .

At any rate, what's really clear is that as people get a chance to use the tools to accomplish a specific goal or task, they are definitely buying into them more. It also helps that some of these things (especially blogs and wikis) are becoming more mainstream--the words aren't as scary. All of this is making me happy, even though otherwise I'm drowning.


Social Media Dead Ideas

In a comment on my post about the tyranny of dead ideas, Shannon Turlington left me a link to a great post she did exploring some of the dead ideas that surround the use of wikis. She sees three (but go read her post to get the full explanation):

  • The need for permission

  • Someone "owns" the content

  • Everything must be "perfect"

This got me wondering what are other dead ideas that people can't seem to let go of in terms of using social media. A few I can think of:

  • It's about quantity of connections rather than their quality--social networking as a race to to see how many people you can claim as "friends." 
  • If we don't have "rules" then people will go nuts. My earlier post on social media guidelines notwithstanding, my experiences by and large have been that people tend to behave themselves online, particularly in an online professional setting.
  • Social media is a waste of time. Well, only if you also believe that phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication at work are also a waste. If anything, I think social media is more of a timesaver for people. I'd much rather use a wiki to work on a group project than endless rounds of email and if you don't see the benefits of LinkedIn for business, especially in this economy, then maybe you have some other issues to address. 

So those are a few of mine off the top of my head. Your thoughts on other social media dead ideas?


A Week Without Google

No_google My daughter is taking a New Media Research studio class at NYU where (somewhat to my dismay), she's learning about using RSS and Delicious. I'm dismayed because I would have taught her about these things for free, but you know college students. Parents are good for tuition, not for tutoring. Or maybe I'm just jealous that I can't take the course.

At any rate, this week's assignment is a doozy--A Week Without Google. That's right, no Google Search or Google Alerts, no Gmail or Google Talk, no Google Video, no Google Docs or Google Calendar, no Google Maps or  Google Earth, no Google News, no Google Groups, no Youtube (!!), no Blogger, no Picasa, no Google Checkout, no iGoogle, no Google Translate, no Google Chrome, and if you have a G1 phone, you are not allowed to use Google services with it--talk and text only.

For my daughter and her friends, the hardest thing to do without is YouTube, which has replaced channel surfing on cable as their favorite time-waster. For me, I would go insane without Google Search, Gmail, Google Docs and Google maps.

The assigment is interesting because it vividly illustrates how dependent many of us have become on Google. It also raises the question of whether or not this is a good thing, especially in the wake of last week's malware scare.

In a post on Google Monculture and the Cloud, Kas Thomas wonders:

If Google were to go down (or become essentially unusable -- same thing) for, say, 72 hours or more, how disruptive would it be to the economy? Would online retailers see a slowdown in business? Would job-seekers remain out of work longer? Would the productivity of information workers (who supposedly spend a couple hours per day doing online searches) be seriously affected?

How would users of Google applications be affected by problems with the main search engine? Google offers over 70 services of various kinds. Does anyone even know what all the dependencies are?

There are dangers in relying too much on any one service or company. Monopolies breed customer abuse and we're certainly handing ourselves over to Google in ways that, should they choose, could do some serious damage. We also know that online, monoliths invite the attention of hackers who want to do maximum damage with minimal work (one of the reasons I like my Mac--fewer viruses to worry about). And even with no malicious intent, reliance on a single company means that if something goes wrong, it impacts every interdependent aspect of your work.

This leaves a big question in my mind--are we too dependent on Google? Although it's wonderful to have so many services working together so seamlessly, are their downsides to all Google all the time that I'm not considering as I should? What do you think?

Could you go a week without Google? Do you think it's a good or a bad thing to be so reliant on one company? What should we be considering in all of this?


Course Community Building with Ning

Alisa Cooper of South Mountain Community Colleges has produced a great narrated presentation on how she uses Ning to build community in her courses. She's also using podcasts, live streaming video and drop.io. And check out her Voicethread on using Ning, which she said she started using because she thought the usual online offerings were "a little sterile and boring." Good stuff.


Avoiding "SpeedFit" Syndrome

This video cracks me up. It's a product video for a treadmill that "walks/runs" the streets while you're treading on it. Because apparently it's too hard to just walk or run ON the street. Instead, we need a tool that does the same thing as walking or running, but is heavy, clunky, hard to turn and makes you look like an idiot.

This is what we do sometimes when we try to incorporate social media into learning and work without thinking through the work process and how it feels to the learners. We impose a clunky tool on top of a process rather than redesigning the process so that using the tool feels as effortless as running. Then we're shocked when people don't adopt the new tool.

The next time you're tempted to throw up a wiki, join a social network or set up a blog without really thinking things through, remember the SpeedFit Treadmobile and think again.


Deconstructing the Work Literacy Learning Event

The Work Literacy online learning event is over and Harold Jarche has posted some of what he learned from our facilitation of the course. Time for me to share some of my thoughts. .  

Using Ning for the Course

Our first big decision was what platform to use. We ended up going with Ning because it integrated several different tools (blogs, forums, video and photo-sharing, social networking profiles, groups) at the right price (free). We also wanted to use something that would give people a true flavor of Web 2.0 learning. While Moodle would have been a potential choice, it's still a CMS and we wanted to see what would happen with a tool that was set up for social networking rather than for course management. We also considered using a blog platform (like Wordpress) and having people participate via comments and their own blogs, but decided that Ning might give us a fuller experience of using social media tools in a more integrated way.

From my perspective, Ning seemed to work well. It was more chaotic than if we'd used a structured tool like Moodle, and I know that some people struggled a little with feeling that they couldn't quite connect with what was going on. There was less of a step-by-step feel and more of a networked approach that, at first, was disconcerting.  But I also think with Ning we did a better job of helping people to form more social connections. The profile pages gave a good sense of who people were and I felt like I had more of a handle on having specific people involved in the course, rather than a list of names.

One thing that I think was a MAJOR asset of using Ning was the fact that it made it very easy for people to assume responsibility for different aspects of the course. We saw several people start up smaller study and interest groups and various forum threads that really added to the overall learning. Many people seemed to take ownership of the course in a way that wouldn't have happened with a CMS. That was one of the most positive benefits from my perspective of using a social networking platform--it really did a much better job of creating a community of practice/peer-to-peer learning environment. 

Facilitating the Course

In setting up the course, we focused on a topic per week, with different levels of involvement in the assignments--Spectators, Joiners/Collectors and Creators.  One thing we heard repeatedly was that people really liked the idea that they had permission to be spectators, dipping in and out of readings and forums as they wanted to. This kind of "lurking" behavior is the hallmark of any online course, but I think that participants were happy that being a spectator was a more "official" and sanctioned way of participating in the course, rather than a cop-out.

As Harold pointed out, the Ning platform did require us to act as synthesizers and information connectors  because great nuggets of conversation started in various locations (in individual blog posts, on forums, etc.) and they could easily be lost in the discussions. We tried to stay on top of that, though, and to pull those nuggets to the forefront by posting them on the main page, adding them to assignment pages and/or sending out blast emails to the entire group to let them know what was happening.

What was interesting for me as a facilitator was that I found myself paying much more attention to creating a particular kind of environment and trying to facilitate dialogue in ways that it's harder for me to do in a face-to-face setting. When I'm doing stand-up sessions, it's easier for me to fall into the "sage on the stage" kind of behavior, even when I'm actively trying to avoid it. But in an asynchronous, social environment like we had with the Work Literacy course, I couldn't be everywhere at once and I found that many other people stepped up to "teach" to others. I also found myself paying more attention to how I framed questions and assignments so that they encouraged thinking and dialogue. Not that I don't do this in face-to-face, but there was a different quality to my thinking in this setting.

Another interesting aspect was finding the balance between being an "instructor" and being a community facilitator. As an "instructor," I think that there's a tendency to want to comment on every blog and forum post. But in doing that, I'm reinforcing this idea of me as "expert" or "teacher," that I wanted to avoid. I really wanted to try to move out of that more traditional role and into a facilitator/community-builder role. I will say that in a lot of ways it was harder to do than I'd thought. There's a certain level of backing off that's necessary, but overall I think the community is better for it. 

Was the Course a Success?

I wondered before the course ended if we'd been "successful" and this was one of the questions we asked in the final week. We got some excellent feedback from participants on this issue that primarily indicated that people had defined for themselves what success would be and then participated in activities accordingly.

One big aspect of thinking about this was the level of participation. We saw a drop-off in the number of people contributing to forums, blog posts, etc. as the weeks went by, so we naturally had to wonder what this meant. I'm still not sure (Harold wonders if the course lasted too long, something I've asked too), but I'm not sure that participation is really the true measure of success anyway. Or at least it's not the only measure we could use.

What I do think we managed to do was create and foster a community of practice that, for a period of time, brought together a large group of people who wanted to work together on learning about using Web 2.0 tools for learning. Through this network of connections and discussion, we also created an excellent resource that will be available to other people who may want to explore these tools on their own, at their leisure.

I know that for myself, I "met" and had an opportunity to engage with the thinking and ideas of some really smart, interesting people--and even had an outstanding lunch with one of the participants, Catherine Lombardozzi, who happens to live in the Philadelphia area. So for me, at least, this was definitely a successful and enriching experience.

What Would I Do Next Time?

  • I say this every time I do an online learning event, but I think that I'd shorten the course. If you're doing activities every day (like we did for the Comment Challenge), I think it needs to last only a week, maybe two. If we're doing one topic a week, I'm thinking that it shouldn't go longer than a month. More chunking and some breathing time in between might keep energy levels up.
  • I would definitely do the three levels of activities again, at least in circumstances where that's possible. I think that explicit permission and encouragement for lurking really helps people. At the same time, I have to then be prepared for the fact that they WILL lurk.
  • I will be more consistent with some of the structural aspects of the course. One strategy we used was to set up a forum to ask people what they wanted to learn about the next week's topic, but we didn't do that every week. I was trying to fit in the course around work stuff and some weeks were better than others for keeping up with different components. I need to be a little more planful on some of these pieces the next time around. There's only so much "building the plane while you're flying it" that I should do.
  • I would definitely use Ning again for a project like this. Overall there was a lot of flexibilty and functionality that we were able to access and I do think that it encouraged more group ownership than we might have had using a blog or CMS platform.
  • Related to the group ownership idea, I will be more explicit next time about inviting group ownership and suggesting that people feel free to take the learning in directions where they'd like. Paul Lowe volunteered to run a webinar (which was excellent), but he volunteered on his own. Next time I'd have explicit invitations for people from the outset and provide ideas and instructions to encouraget that thinking. (Although is there an advantage to waiting for things to evolve organically?) 

Overall, this was an excellent experience. I will say that I'm ready for a break though. :-)


Implementing Social Media: A Tale of Two Case Studies

A couple of interesting posts from Nathan Wallace on his organization's experiences in implementing a wiki and then a year later, a customized microblogging platform called Jitter. You need to read both, but here are some key points:

The organizational wiki seems to have been adopted more quickly and used more extensively than the Jitter solution. This is in part, Nathan says, because the wiki was responding to a need, while Jitter was trying to create demand:

Open collaboration and idea sharing are common organisational goals, but that doesn’t mean there is latent demand among the people of the business for the tools that enable it. With any new organisational capability, always stay focused on end users and helping them to solve a problem.

While Jitter is a highly flexible tool that people are already using for a wide range of purposes, we didn’t do enough to position this new communication medium or to demonstrate the business value. People didn’t know how to use this new tool. Some feedback was negative, but overwhelmingly people asked “What do I post to it?”, “What’s the business value?”. Without clear answers, people just waited to see what others would do.


Related to the idea of launching a social media solution in response to a particular need, the organization's wiki was piloted as an information source related to the moving of the company's head office. As Nathan points out, "Nothing drives traffic like a seating plan for a new office."

He also has some great advice on dealing with people's concerns about people making "improper" changes to a wiki:

Predictably, the main argument against this system was fear of improper changes to content, particularly for information subject to regulatory control. I would counter this argument in two ways:
  1. There are two ways to control people's behaviour: social forces and technical forces. Currently, we successfully rely on social forces to control a wide range of things like who calls or emails the CEO with their latest crazy idea. Technical forces are powerful, but with each technical feature we increase training and raise the bar against collaboration. Surely, we can see if social forces will be enough for all but the most critical of content?
  2. Anyone can choose to monitor any content that they are concerned about (e.g. automatic email alert with changes). So, they can quickly jump in and correct any mistakes.
  3. For exceptional cases, we may choose to lock down critical content and define clear ownership and responsibility for its maintenance.

It also seems that there are real challenges to implementing microblogging in the enterprise:

Microblogging is particularly difficult to position as a business tool since it’s so hard to say anything worthwhile in so few characters. For an organisation starting the journey of sharing ideas and thoughts, blogging may be an easier starting point. Posts can be more serious and business like. Blogs are better known, and at worst look more like normal web pages. Authors can craft and position their entries to meet the political challenges and communication realities of the enterprise. Even if your organisation is ready for fast thoughts and short posts, authors can evolve towards really short blog entries.

Note that this doesn't say that microblogging shouldn't be used in the enterprise. Nathan suggests that it might not be a great starting point though.

Finally, check out this excellent article on implementing Web 2.0 in a 1.0 Culture. In it Nathan discusses the two cultural barriers to collaborative tools in the organization--sharing knowledge adds more work and sharing knowledge increases personal risk. Then he outlines some strategies for minimizing these barriers. He also proposes four values for building Enterprise 2.0:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Ease of use over comprehensive training.
  3. Flexible tools over completeness.
  4. Responding to needs over creating demand.

Really great stuff, well worth your time. 


Negative Online Behavior is a Product of Culture, Not Your Social Media Tools: What I'm Learning from the Work Literacy Course

One of the questions I'm most frequently asked when talking to people about using social media for learning in organizations is how do you "manage" comments and how do you deal with people "being negative." There's a general fear that once you open the floodgates to participation, you're going to be inundated with people acting inappropriately and unprofessionally.

Although I think this is a fair question I think that 1) it says more about the organization than its employees and 2) my experiences have not borne out the idea that using blogs, wikis, and social networks is an invitation to unrestrained nastiness or anarchy--unless that's the culture in which your employees are already operating. 

Now that we're winding down the Work Literacy course, I can see one more example that offers additional insight into this issue.

Over the past 5 weeks, we've had almost 3,000 unique visitors to the community.  As of today, 749 people from around the world created profiles, wrote on each others walls, "friended" each other and sent private messages.  Sixty forum threads have been started with hundreds of replies. Forty five blog posts have been posted to the network and countless others have been posted on people's personal blogs outside of the Ning. We've created a Work Literacy wiki and set up a Delicious tag where people were invited to contribute their links. Seventeen videos/presentations and 34 photos have been added to the site. Four groups have formed and they are having their own active discussions through forums and on wikis they've created outside the space. We've also held two "live" events online.

I've personally read through just about every forum and blog post, except for those written in a language other than English. I've also visited many members' profiles and checked out the photos and videos. Despite all this activity, nowhere in any of this has there been an "inappropriate" or unprofessional exchange. That's right. I haven't received a single complaint from a participant about "bad behavior" nor have I seen anything myself.  That's saying something, especially when you consider that these people are essentially strangers to one another and could behave inappropriately with no real ramifications.

Now why this is the case. Is it because I just haven't seen anything? I doubt it. I think that with this many members, if there was some kind of problem, we'd know about it.

Is it because participation is voluntary? Maybe. That would certainly contribute to an overall sense of positive participation if you know you're doing this because you want to, not because someone told you you had to. But just because participation is voluntary doesn't mean that people won't break out into flame wars, etc. Look at TRDEV.

Is it something about how we've framed discussions and the fact that positive culture begets positive culture--that is, people are modeling for each other what is considered to be acceptable behavior in the community so anything different would be incredibly jarring? Is it because we're showing respect for each other as a community and not assuming that people will behave inappropriately?  Definitely. I don't think that there's the space for negative or unprofessional behavior at Work Literacy because everyone who is participating is a professional and is committed to creating a particular kind of learning environment. Further, as facilitators, Tony, Harold and I didn't expected anything different. We just assumed that we were all here to learn, so how could we find the best ways to do that?

Here's a story about the community  culture that has developed that further illustrates my point. One member of the community was clearly there to sell a product. To the extent that he participated, via a few forum discussions and sponsorship of a webinar,  it was to push his own agenda.

When I saw how this person was interacting, I was at first tempted to say something, especially when he posted an event to do a webinar on his product. But then I decided not to do anything about it. I wanted to see what would happen. Maybe people were OK with what he was doing and were interested in what he was selling. I figured that if someone complained about it to me, then we'd deal with it, but as an experiment, I was curious to see how things would play out.

What happened was this. People totally ignored him. No one signed up for the webinar. No one responded to his discussions. They simply didn't engage. And as a result, he became a non-entity on the site.

Now that may sound harsh, but I think it's a great example of the positive self-policing quality of these communities. When people behave in "inappropriate" ways, the community members often handle it themselves. In this case, a member "selling" something is relatively innocuous behavior, so ignoring it is the best approach, which is what they did. I suspect that if something more overt had happened, they would have shown equal wisdom in how to handle it. This kind of behavior is what I've seen repeatedly and the Work Literacy project is just one more example.

This is the conclusion I'm drawing from using social media for learning. If people have negative experiences with using social media in their organizations--if people are behaving unprofessionally or inappropriately--I think that there's something a lot deeper going on that social media is simply bringing to the surface.

I think you're right to question "will I get negative comments on a blog" or "what happens if people say bad things about our organization on our social network?" Those are good solid questions and you should have a plan for dealing with them.

However, unprofessional behavior does not arise in a vacuum. It's a product of organizational culture. Social media will make that culture visible, so when you ask "will people vandalize our wiki?" what you're really asking is something about the quality of your organization's culture.

Now, you could let your fear of negativity hold you back from implementing the tools,  or you could decide to dive in and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised (which is more often the case). Or you may unleash a storm of problems. If the storm is released, however, it might be the best thing that could have happened for you.  You've been fortunate enough to find out exactly where the pain is in your organization so that you can begin talking about how to address it. 

Saying "We won't do a blog because our employees will leave negative comments" is simply saying that you don't want to know what people are already saying. Because believe me, if they're going to be negative on a blog, which is a public forum, you can only imagine what they're saying behind your back. 

The other thing I'm realizing as I continue to participate in and manage these social media-enhanced learning events is that, if anything, social media brings out the best in people. There is an inherent sense of sharing, transparency and community that these tools can build that I've seen over and over again. Yes, in the wrong hands you can have some serious problems. But those problems existed before you started using the tools. If you really want to address what's happening in your organization, I'd suggest that you actually delve into the positive uses of social media because they may give you one of the best opportunities for ongoing dialogue and problem-solving that you'll ever see.