At the end of last calendar year, I gave a presentation about social media for project managers at PMI Learning, Education and Development Community of Practice. They have a very successful online book club, and were discussing my book. It was great to be asked to join them and share some of my ideas.
The webinar was attended by approximately 350 people. We didn’t get to answer all of the questions, so I thought I’d address some. Let’s get on with it…
Due to security concerns, our company is very concerned about social media. What are your thoughts? (Angela)
This question was raised by many people. There were many comments that said, “My company won’t allow me to use social media tools at my workplace”. This could be due to non-disclosure agreements (mentioned previously) or other privacy concerns.
My view is that employees will use Facebook and Twitter regardless of whether the company allows it. These days, most people have smartphones with internet access. So unless you check your phones at home, you can access these tools while you go for a cup of coffee. It is better for companies to control access through policies and education rather than allowing employees to say and do whatever they like on social media.
You can address security concerns and manage social media tools for project management. Take this example:
You should use tools that you can keep behind your firewall to ensure they are not accessible to external users. Yammer, Wikis
Use tools that allow you to export your data whenever you need it or after the project is finished.
If you are in violation of local regulations or contracts, do not use tools that host data abroad.
Security concerns can be addressed by using social media tools. If you are unable to address them adequately, then don’t use them. It’s possible to manage a project without instant messaging or a Wiki; people have done that for years. While I love social collaboration tools, I don’t recommend them if they aren’t useful or violate agreements or policies.
How do you define Organizational Instant messaging? (Daniel)
There are many tools that can be used to facilitate organisational video conferencing, such as Skype, Microsoft Office Communicator and Spark, Cisco Jabber, Lync, and Cisco Jabber. Some of these tools are free and some are part of other software. I recommend that you test out a few (of the free ones) to see which features you use most often. Once you have a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve, you can decide whether you want to pay for a paid-for solution.
Social media tools are easier for younger employees. (Iain)
Actually, I disagree. Technical literacy, which I refer to as the ability to use these tools and other bits of technology, is not a function of age. There is a growing number of “silver surfers” who are just as proficient at using these tools as young people. I know of people younger than me who aren’t on Facebook or use social media products because they don’t know how.
Having said that I am unable to cite any research that supports my personal opinion. Don’t let your team members’ age lead you to make unfounded assumptions about their ability or inability to adapt new ways of working.
How can you manage information overload? (This question was asked by many people)
This topic came up while we were discussing instant messaging and how to deal with the archive trail it creates by being able manage that information and file it somewhere.
Too many communication tools can lead to more interruptions and more distractions. You need to consider how to manage the different streams of information social media tools offer you to avoid information overload. In general, I would say that you should sh