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December 9, 2010
Social Media Can Work at Work
 
Oh my, Shel Holtz is positively gleeful in rebutting a piece by the UK's Barclay Communications (picked up in a post from Northern Ireland) that advises against  employees using social media during working hours. Social media might appear to be time-wasters at work. But look at the issue in the context of our times – an era in which computers and the Internet have become extensions of human capacity and a new way of listening. Social media then display potential for connection and engagement.

If an organization has given an employee a computer, it has given him or her an opportunity for responsible expression in the organization's interest. 

The Holtz-Barclay exchange is a great one, probably expressing the pros and cons of social media in organizations as clearly as you're likely to find them. But we're with Holtz. He responds to each of Barclay's concerns firmly planted in this new time. Barclay contends that Twitter et. al. waste time,  impair productivity, invite hacker attacks and data leaks and soak up corporate bandwidth. It's true there are hazards to using social media at work, but they can be addressed in training on the subject.

You wouldn't, for instance, want control room operators at a nuclear plant to be tweeting their shifts away, no matter how explanatory they might be. That wouldn't inspire confidence in the safety of nuclear power. But used appropriately, social media exchanges can be effective extensions of an organization's personality and purpose. Social media need to be viewed as strategic communication tools to be used in the best interests of everyone in an organization. Anyone who abuses that principle can be counseled or disciplined, but we suspect there will be few such cases if the issue is presented well to employees. 

As we say, Holtz vs. Barclay is a great exchange; check it out. 












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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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