Social Media: The New Solitaire?

July 27th, 2010
by

by Denise Giacin*

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Lately I’ve been struggling with the social media paradox – is it good or is it bad? I use social media because it encourages me to be, well, social. You can keep in touch with your aunt halfway across the country, you can check out photos of your recently married ex-boyfriend (ah-hem), you can stay on top of current news stories, and you can even rant or rave about practically anything and cyberspace is forced to “listen.” Networking is also another plus for social media. One of my friends recently told me how he actually used Facebook to help out a friend who was laid off. The news came up in his Facebook feed, he contacted his friend for a resume and emailed it to a PR firm he knew was hiring. His friend was rewarded with an interview and an opportunity that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

All of this sounds good, so what’s the bad? Well, there is a lot of question and doubt regarding social media in the professional world. For one, some companies are hesitant to learn about these tools and apply them to their strategies. Instead, they are blocked, strictly forbidden, and grounds to send you packing in the event that you’re caught sneaking a peek at your Twitter feed.   

I recently attended a BDI conference called “Social Convergence and The Enterprise” and my mind is overflowing with all these thoughts on social media. Paul Hernacki, chief technology officer from Definition 6, boggled my mind with his perspective on social media in the workplace. He advised that we “stop blocking things internally.” Whoa! Wait, there’s more. Hernacki pointed out that while public relations, marketing, and communications departments should guide your company as your “official voice” this alone won’t be as successful as getting your organization involved as a whole.

This, my friends, is genius. Case and point: I tried to explain to my dad, who isn’t familiar with social media, what “liking” something is on Facebook. You should have seen the blank stare on his face.  My point is, how can you expect your employees to understand the power and impact of social media if they are not allowed to be actively involved?

At the same conference I also had the pleasure of listening to Jenny Dervin, director of corporate communications for JetBlue Airways. When speaking of social media, her words “you are being watched” hovered over the conference room. After all, the conference was being broadcast live over the web and we were all watching a live Twitter feed (#BDI) of our comments.  Dervin went on to further explain JetBlue’s use of YouTube and their blog “Blue Tales” as part of their strategy for taking a crisis situation head on. How much more authentic can you get than having the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman, deliver an apology over YouTube? Kudos to JetBlue for picking up on the fact that consumers are involved in social media and for using this medium as a way to interact.

When your employees know what is being said on social media sites or how this medium is being used to promote a product, service, or idea it can only help your company. For example, if I worked at a major automobile manufacturer I might find it interesting to know that Ford is promoting the 2011 Explorer by unveiling it first on Facebook. In fact, the Ford Explorer fan page reached their goal of 30,000 “likes” so Ford will now give away a brand new Explorer! Clearly, Ford understands Facebook and the users who frequently use it.

I’m not suggesting that your employees should do nothing but surf the web all day, but there should be a balance. Encouraging your employees to understand social media and to use it wisely is an important tactic for any business plan. There are a lot of studies discussing whether or not social media decreases productivity at work. In my opinion, before social media it was Solitaire, before Solitaire it was “the water cooler.” There are always going to be distractions. If an employee is consistently not doing their job they shouldn’t be an employee of yours.  Not doing your work is a choice you make, regardless of how easily accessible any distractions are.

Social media gets people talking. If you want to be a part of the chatter, don’t block social media, incorporate it.  I’m sure you have many thoughts on this controversial topic and we’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. How does your company feel about using social media internally? What ways have you utilized this social media phenomenon? How do you monitor social media?

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*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce

12 Responses to “Social Media: The New Solitaire?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lauren Shapiro, IABC NOLA, Laura Krinke, Eva Keiser, BurrellesLuce and others. BurrellesLuce said: Is Social Media the new Solitaire? @denise10283 @BurrellesLuce http://budurl.com/tder #BDI […]

  2. […] post: Social Media: The New Solitaire? « BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Written on July 27th, 2010 & filed under Media, TV Tags: across-the-country, aunt, […]

  3. Laurent says:

    Hi Denise

    It looks like the people you talked to ‘get it’ – pervasive access to social media in companies is the way to go. Blocking it just delays the inevitable. The key is that social media is about networks. To stay relevant, employees have to be part of the right networks. They know that and nothing can stop them.
    Companies are good at providing structure/infrastructure/data for efficient and coherent collaboration. Social media participation should be no exception and designed to bring the right data/establish the right connection at the right place between the outside and inside word.

    Laurent

  4. Excellent points! Social Media is now becoming more and more relevant to the corporate world and its functions. Employees should be in-the-know of the latest marketing strategies at their disposal. Nothing hampers productivity more than a set of tools left unused.

  5. Denise Giacin says:

    Hi Laurent,

    Thank you for the feedback. I especially agree with your point, “Social media participation should be no exception and designed to bring the right data/establish the right connection at the right place between the outside and inside world.” I feel that social media is a key component to creating a bond between the company and the consumer. I think social media opens up communication channels and can really help maintain the relationship between company and consumer.

    All the best,
    Denise

  6. Denise Giacin says:

    Hi Shenika,

    Your comment, “Nothing hampers productivity more than a set of tools left unused” rings very true. Times are changing and conservative companies are going to have to adapt to these changes. You can bet the competition is utilizing social media tools…or they are in the process of learning how to most effectively incorporate social media into their business models. This leads me to question organizations with: instead of trying so hard to avoid social media and block it from your company, why not figure out how to use it to your advantage?

    Thanks for your response!

    All the best,
    Denise

  7. Laurent says:

    I’m glad we agree.
    What I wrote seems obvious but it’s tough to implement. SM can be overwhelming with so much content to sift through to try and find what matters. Our approach (I funded a company to do what I described) as been to help companies get down to the DNA of social media by finding “who matters” for them and then “what matters”. So for example if you’re a beauty brand, you’d want to know who are the ‘beauty’ influencers (we mapped 1000 of them here) and then listen to the conv they have on your brand/selected competitors or topics (like say ‘moisturiser’ or ‘mascara’ or ‘skin cancer’.
    When you’re at this level of relevance, it becomes easy to do something. Because ultimately it’s about doing.
    L

  8. Denise Giacin says:

    Hi Laurent,

    As usual, we’re on the same page. 🙂

    There is a great article on Mashable about monitoring and measuring social media which you might find interesting (http://mashable.com/2010/07/29/monitor-measure-brand-social-media/)

    Hopefully with a little research and encouragement companies will become less fearful of SM.

    All the best,
    Denise

  9. Richard Buse says:

    At one time or another, many companies struggled with who should have access to copy machines, phones, PCs, fax machines, and the Internet in general. Sure, some time got wasted on solitaire, junk faxes and personal phone calls, but reasonable policies evolved that benefitted employees and employers.

    I believe the same evolution will happen with social media, but companies that reach that point sooner will have a distinct advantage.

    I think one of the crucial issues is that traditional approval processes that govern how information is developed and released to external audiences just don’t work with social media. Instead, individuals need to be instructed and then trusted to communicate spontaneously in an appropriate manner.

  10. Denise Giacin says:

    Hi Richard,

    You are absolutely right. Old policies need to be revised to include guidelines for new social media tools. I think companies that incorporate these tools will attract employees who want to think outside the box. In my opinion, social media savy employees are more likely to develop innovative ways to attract new business.

    Think about it, would you want to work for a strict, very conservative company or would you like to work for a company that encourages you to be involved through blogging, tweeting, or facebooking? In order for this kind of integration to happen you mentioned the key word…trust.

    All the best,
    Denise

  11. […] that connected with the audience via social media.  As my colleague Denise Giacin points out in a recent post on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, Jet Blue is a great example of a company using social media to manage PR communications and […]

  12. […] quest to understand this global monster called social media, I wrote a piece on Fresh Ideas called, Social Media: The New Solitaire?. That post generated a lot of chatter over whether or not a company should allow employees to use […]

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