Delivering a training session this week I put up quite a useful infographic on burgeoning social media use, which just happened be be titled “Social Media is Changing the World”. In this context, it wasn’t a particularly helpful headline, as it immediately raised the hackles of the majority of the room who were, at that early stage of the day, still mainly social media sceptics. All that was to change, radically, as the day went on, but at that moment it mainly served to feed their early scepticism.
There is much hyperbole in this topic area, but there are some undeniable truths about how social media has had an impact. The Arab Spring, where people making connections with each other via social media gained the confidence that there were others who felt like them and who were prepared to act, is one very prominent example. It also hard to see how Jimmy Savile would have got away with his years of abuse if victims had been able to find each other online and compare notes.
When I am advising people about social media use, I increasingly find myself talking to them about much wider issues about who to talk to on Twitter or Facebook. Social media is opening up the workplace, allowing people to express their personalities, opening up practices and methodologies to scrutiny, and encouraging the sharing of knowledge and information. One of the key considerations I always ask people to bear in mind is that most people use certain forms of social media primarily for doing fun things. It follows, therefore, that what people post about their work also needs to adopt a tone and approach which is in accord with the light-hearted, fun nature of how people normally interact online.
And I always think it is common sense that content is king on social media. You need to have interesting things to say and interesting activities to report if people are to engage with you. So I find myself discussing with people the basis of the way they work. If they are not doing interesting things, then they will find it hard to provide engaging social media content. I contend, therefore, that social media challenges working practices, and can encourage people to change the way they work, introducing more fun and play into the working day.
All this relates back to my strong belief that we need to make work enjoyable in order to have an engaged workforce in which everyone is contributing willingly to corporate objectives. Social media is changing the world in so many different ways. I welcome its potential to make the world of work a better place to be.