Making Social Media an acceptable work activity #1

by Justin Souter on November 18, 2008

use social networks at work

Photo credit to Will Lion

I attended a Partners4Business seminar last week, called “How to use Social Networking to grow your business“*.

During the presentation, we had a number of discussions. One of them involved a practical example, where another attendee gave an example of the power of online opinions:

He and his wife wanted to have some time away in the Lake District. He had found a hotel via the Web, and it seemed a great place, judging by the website.

However, his wife–looking for things to do nearby–found online that the hotel had dreadful reviews; she found another hotel down the road with much better feedback.

The attendee concerned therefore cancelled the first hotel and booked at the second. They had an excellent stay, and when visiting the original establishment, found it rather quiet.

My question to the group was whether the original hotel were wondering why business was so quiet? And if the online reviews were the reason (and had discovered them), whether they knew how to address this?

I give this example, because in many organisations, tools such as Facebook are blocked to most employees – probably for good reason. Anecdotal evidence has it that many people spend too much time keeping in touch with their friends, and not enough time working!

However, Facebook now allows Companies to create a presence – Barack Obama perhaps being the stand-out example. Closer to the workplace, the latest version of Microsoft SharePoint has blogs, wikis, and alerts about changing content (using RSS).

So, clearly there is scepticism in management circles about using Web 2.0 / Social Media tools. The second part of this post will explore whether attitudes are changing, and what this could mean in terms of business success.

* There’s another one coming up on 03/12/08 on Teesside – with a slightly different title!

Previous post:

Next post: