Thursday, February 12, 2009

How organizations can get people to participate in social media

Posted this on GovLoop.com as a response to a question about human capital techniques to get older employees to participate in social media. See what you think about how these apply to total branding - because I truly do believe that social media and branding go hand in hand these days and you really can't have a brand without participating in the conversation:

1. Not sure that "full use" of social media tools is the right goal - rather that the tools are made available as is needed, appropriate, etc. Every agency has to determine what's right for their mission as well as what's right for certain groups of employees vs. others.

2. In general, younger employees seem more comfortable trying new technologies. Conversely, the more "different" social media seems, the more resistance among older employees. Actual comment: "I'm not going onto Facebook; it's not for me" - no real reason that I could see. In theory, social media tools that look like Outlook or Word, for example, or interface with these familiar softwares, are probably more likely to be adopted. This I think is the issue with Sharepoint - it's so different looking that it scares people off. So the human capital has to be managed by buying or customizing technology to suit the way people can use it.

3. Culture of creativity, innovation, trust & within a secure environment - these two factors, together, are huge. If you have an environment where people are afraid of punishment or discouraged from being creative/innovative, they are not going to readily adopt social media, which by definition involves speaking to a wide audience without the filter of official approval. Basically, you have to show that you trust your people and will give them a little latitude. Of course you have to ensure compliance with behavioral codes of conduct, but that doesn't mean you stifle people completely. At the same time, the conversation has to take place in a secure environment - not just vs. the outside world but keeping conversations restricted to those with a need or interest in knowing. Not every conversation has to be accessible to everyone.

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