Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on twitter will know that I am passionate about the opportunities that social media brings to us, both professionally and personally. Being active on social media has developed me, challenged me, connected me, and helped me make some wonderful friends.
I have noticed lately that when I meet people who know I’m actively social, they keep saying the same things, asking me the same questions. So I thought I’d share them, and my usual responses.
How do you find the time?
The answer to this one is simple. If you want to do something enough, then you will find a way and make the time. And as the saying goes, if you don’t, you will find an excuse. That is why there are usually more people down the pub than in the gym.
I know I should give it a go.
Usually said in the same tone of voice I use when I am pondering tackling my ironing basket. See above comment. Here’s the thing – if you are thinking about getting social, you have to know why you are doing it. Because if you don’t have a good why, an aim, then you will find it hard to be motivated to get going or keep going. My why is simple. I use social media to learn from others, to make great connections, and to get updates on One Direction.
Isn’t Twitter just about people saying what they had for breakfast.
I don’t know what to say.
Don’t worry about it too much. You are not crafting a novel. Just stay away from the obvious inflammatory stuff. If you worry about it, overthink it, you will never do it.
How do you cope with the constant stream of stuff coming at you?
Cognitive overload is a real thing. And it’s not just about social media. Emails, phone calls, text messages, voicemails, instant messages, alerts, notifications. We are constantly connected, constantly interrupted. You can find a way to manage the social stuff just like you do with the rest of it. In Twitter, I use lists. I have ones for all the people who I really want to keep in touch with, be able to check at a glance if they’ve got a new blog post out. Some people use apps or feeds. You also have to be selective on who you follow and what you read, or you could easily be overwhelmed. You can’t catch every tweet so don’t even try.
If we open all this stuff up to our employees, won’t they abuse it?
Possibly. Or possibly not. There will always be an employee or two who time waste, or who push things a little too far. Your probably know exactly who they are at your place. And if people want to waste time, they will. They will take an extended smoke break. They will stretch their lunch hour out a little. Meander around the building. Deal with them as you need to, for social stuff or that stuff. This is the same argument that people made when email and the internet was first introduced. Someone probably sat around a meeting table when Alexander Bell invented the telephone and discussed whether or not employees would make too many personal calls on it. Employees timewasting on social media is an outcome of another problem, not the cause.
What if our employees do things that they shouldn’t on social media?
They probably will. As I’ve blogged before, employees have always done stuff that they shouldn’t, but we deal with it. If you close social media down for this reason, you will lose all the potential benefits too.
I don’t know how to do it. There is all this terminology that I don’t understand.
It takes a little getting used to, just like anything new. But it isn’t all that hard, if you want to learn it. See earlier comments. When it comes to HR in particular, there is a welcoming community who will help you along the way.
Isn’t it a bit sad?
This all depends on your point of view. Nothing is sad if you get some benefit from it or enjoy it. Can you take it too far? Yes of course you can. I was mindful of this recently. Visiting Las Vegas, I stood to watch the fountains at the Bellagio. They are truly a fantastic sight. But was I struck by how many people were engaging in the experience through a lens, rather than being sufficiently present to truly appreciate it. I tweeted a photograph with the caption ‘watching the watchers’. There is balance in all things, including social media. But to me, there is nothing sad about learning, reading, collaborating, chatting to my friends.
Isn’t it just for the younger generation?
Nope. It is true that the younger you are, the more you have grown up with this stuff, the more it is second nature. For those currently at school, there is no time before the internet or the mobile phone. But writing it off as something for those pesky kids is dangerous and inaccurate. The evidence points to the fact that it simply isn’t the case. It looks like you can teach an old dog new tweets.
It doesn’t apply to us / me / our business.
Whether we like it or not, believe it or not, social is the new normal. This is the world that we live in, today and tomorrow. It isn’t going anywhere. The individual platforms might come and go, trends will rise and fall, but we live in a mobile, connected, digital world. Your customers are there, your employees are there, your friends are there. You can choose if you want to be there too. And it is a choice. But there are risks with not engaging too.
When I have answered all of these questions and comments, I usually say simply this. Just give it a go. Dive in, be you, share stuff. And if you have any more questions, tweet me.
And thank you to the lovely people at @IIPtweets for this image: