Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak before the Los Angeles chapter of Bruin Professionals, a UCLA Alumni networking group. I love speaking with groups like this because they represent the people who must be educated with regards to New/Social Media. For example, of the estimated fifty people that attended this meeting, only a handful had some working knowledge of Social Media.
I spoke for twenty-five minutes before opening it up to Q&A. That’s when the meeting organizer did something interesting. He asked the group to split into nine subgroups to discuss how Social Media could be incorporated into their businesses. At the end of a ten minutes, he asked a spokesperson from each group to share what they concluded. Recognizing an opportunity to learn something, I grabbed my notebook and tallied the results:
Group 1 saw Social Media activities as too time consuming, that they competed with other tasks that had to be done. They used the word ‘triage” as a method to determine which business activities deserve their time.
Group 2 described themselves as “resistant” to Social Media, claiming that it wasn’t for “our generation.” The group admitted that they needed more education on the subject.
Group 3 saw “problems” with introducing Social Media into their business, but understood that it was “flexible” and should probably be used. Their concerns surrounded privacy. On a positive note, they did present an idea to use Twitter as a convenient note-taking device.
Group 4 proudly announced that its members had 100% participation in Facebook and Linked-in, but differed on the usefulness of the platforms. They explained that “usefulness” was separated by a “generational divide.” The group expressed concerns about the tools being banned at work, felt that employees needed to be educated in what can and can’t be said online, and worried about Social Media’s affect on corporate confidentiality.
Group 5 reported that although each member used Linked-in, all used it as “a glorified Rolodex.” They saw the value of “blogging and reposting,” but were “mystified” by Twitter.
Group 6 commented that there it had no representatives from the “Web 2.0 Generation.” When discussing Social Media, they feared that it would just be a “time sink” which would require effort in “managing the balance.”
Group 7 called themselves the “Geezer-centric” group, evoking laughter throughout the room. They requested advice on how to use Linked-in and although they were “totally mystified by Twitter” like Group 5, they were still “open to it.”
Group 8’s report came in the form of a joke, claiming to have broken the code on the United States economy. They reported an inverse correlation between the growth rate of Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter follower numbers and the productivity of US employees.
Group 9 was concerned with Social Media activities becoming a “time sink,” but did see the value of using the tools for “listening.”
These raw responses are very similar to the ones that I receive on a daily basis when it comes to introducing New/Social Media tools and techniques to executives. If you run into similar obstacles at your company, please feel free to use the following conversation starters.
1) Yes, Social Media activities are time consuming, and therefore require management to determine what time is spent on specific business activities. Just because a company has done the same thing for many years, it doesn’t mean that those practices are sacred–especially if those activities are becoming less productive over time. Sometimes stuff needs to drop off your plate in order to make room for new ones.
2) There seems to be a myth that New/Social Media is generational. At first, it sounds like a “Mom and apple pie” argument, but it isn’t. Execs need to understand that the use of these tools is not based on demographics. Rather it is based on Passionographics.
3) Privacy is a major concern and must be acknowledged. We live in a world that is far less private than it once was, and it is getting less private by the day. This is a concept that companies must discuss, but it can’t be used as an excuse to thwart the adoption of new information sharing technologies.
4) Confidentiality has always been a concern for companies–AS IT SHOULD. The only difference between confidential information online or offline is the consequences of a breach. If your confidentiality business practices are broken in the offline world, they’ll only be worse in the online one.
5) It’s important to be cautious but open. Anything new creates doubts. It’s a natural reaction. The trick is to move forward, step-by-step. Try something new. Get experience. Learn something. Get comfortable. And then incorporate those experiences into your day-to-day business practices.
Photo Credit: SomewhatFrank