eAnswers - Social Media
Q: I’m looking for ways to convince our corporate IT group to unblock sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Many companies have their firewalls set up to keep employees from accessing these sites to prevent them from wasting company time on personal Internet stuff. But clearly this affects the marketing department if part of its job is to be on Twitter, Facebook, etc. — anonymous
A: Blocking employees from accessing social media sites addresses a behavior but not the root of the problem — that employees aren’t doing their jobs. This is an employee management problem being addressed with a technology solution.
Companies may not be in a position to retrain all of their managers to deal with social media addiction, hence the need to take a drastic IT approach. In addition, it’s not clear that it really blocks access. Twitter, Facebook and countless other sites are readily available on mobile devices like the iPhone.
I’d much rather see corporate IT educate employees and managers on appropriate use of social media in the workplace than ban it outright. This can include ways to use these tools for work purposes — like networking or customer support — that have a direct benefit on the company.
—eM+C eExpert Charlene Li is a digital strategy thought leader, founder of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Altimeter Group and co-author of “Groundswell.” Reach Charlene at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: A big challenge that’s been weighing on us of late is how to strike the proper balance between the fast-moving world of social Internet and its idea-a-minute communication overload, and getting real work done in a thought-out, disciplined manner. — Jay Steinfeld, CEO/founder, Blinds.com
A: Real work occurs when we provide value for our customers. Social media is arguably the most effective way to learn, share and speak directly with customers, providing them with exactly what they want and need.
Sitting in a conference room and talking to ourselves does little. With social media, we can receive ideas that lead to new products and services. We also can empower peer-to-peer resolution of product issues and avoid costly calls, or facilitate ratings and reviews of products to help in the browsing and purchase process. The list of activities is long.
When overload occurs, it often happens for the wrong reasons. Too many people want to discuss the latest bright, shiny object or prepare a long set of slides with lots of content but few insights.
Think of it this way: The majority of any company’s customers rarely call or visit its site. But they’re online every day, ready to tell you how to help them. Smart companies make time for social media and their customers to provide direct value. They know customers aren't waiting for companies to “get it.” On the contrary, customers make decisions with or without us.
—eM+C eExpert Bob Pearson is president of the The Social Media Business Council, a Chicgao-based forum for social media efforts at large corporations. Reach Bob at email@example.com.