10 reasons NOT to ban social media (a twist on the meme)

Jane Hart posted a satirical video – 10 reasons to ban social media the other day. Shortly thereafter, she challenged everyone to come up with 10 reasons NOT to ban social media. Of course I can never just follow the rules, so here is my contribution with a twist.

I am doing social media full-time as my job with Education Services at EMC. None of my peers ever believed I would do it, and I’m surprised that I’m doing this myself sometimes. I heard many of the objections on the tongue-in-cheek 10 reasons to ban social media video. My son taught me a new term (he’s wrapping up a summer business class) – I acted as a tempered radical to try and start change. Sometimes social media “experts” made that job harder.

So I give you my twist on the meme:

How you can understand and counteract the 10 reasons to ban social media

10. Social media is a fad.

This excuse for not using social media is based fully on fear. Here’s what management is thinking: we’ll pour resources into this, we’ll spend a bunch of  time and money on it, and people won’t even use it. They’ll go back to what they always do, and 3 years from now we’ll do this whole dance again to different music.

Here’s where you have to be prepared to counter-act the impact social media “experts” may have had on your decision makers. Pick one initiative that is important to your management. Explain how using social media can impact the bottom line, and show how easy & inexpensive it will be to implement your plan. Give them something easy that they don’t have to be married to – maybe a listening program.

If they really think social media a fad, give them something lightweight and low-risk so they can try it out. But make sure you measure everything you can, and show them some fantastic results.

9. It’s about controlling the message.

This one is about fear as well. And its pretty easy to overcome – just start showing them examples of how people are talking about your products and company. Good things if you can find them, bad if you have to. People are already talking about you. The question is – do you want to be involved when and where your customers decide to share. Do your stakeholders want to counteract the negative, and reinforce the positive? Or do they want to pretend that no one is talking at all?

If they decide to put their toe in the water and try social media, record any outstanding interactions that take place between you and your customers. Show them how their efforts are paying off!

8. Employees will goof off.

Employees already goof off, we’ve never needed social media for that (wall and what ever the comparable windows command was – anyone?)

Plus now most people can now access social media on their phones. Why not set expectations for how you want your employees to use social sites, and let them connect?

7. Social Media is a time waster.

I think this excuse is thrown up when some over-zealous social media expert does not tie social media to business processes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but we’re busy where I work. I could have a clone, and still not get to everything I need to do. This one was easy to get around though. When I started doing social media, I was doing course development for EMC’s Ionix products. This is a space that is very fast-moving, and the way I kept up on things was RSS feeds.

I explained that although it took time to set it up, once I had all my feeds I could scan for what was important to what I was working on. But even more important than the information were the contacts I made. I’d leave comments on blogs, send people emails, etc to connect to people. When I’d get stuck on a project, I knew where  to go for information (and who to go to). When they needed training information, I was their “in” to our dept.

Social media ended up saving me time, and this was an easy, practical thing to explain.

6. Social media has no business purpose.

Again, I think so many of the early adopters came through using buzz-words and dreamy scenarios that people with mature business processes were spooked. You can tie this back to reason number 10 (social media is a fad).

The reason to use social media has to be tied to what a business does to make money. This means social media is not going to look the same for everyone. If you want to lose your audience when pitching social media, don’t tie it to any important projects. Don’t explain how it can save or earn money. If you can’t say specifically how social media can be used to impact the business, you’re just asking to get this excuse thrown at you.

5. Employees can’t be trusted.

This one is silly. I work in a training organization for a vendor company, and our instructors and developers understand and know the company’s positioning on the products with which they work. We also know our support policies and what we can and can’t say to our audiences. Our organization trusts us to be alone in a room with customers, sometimes at the customer’s own site!

Pointing this out usually helps. But then figuring out how to make sure social media fits into existing processes also helps. If you set the expectation that social media is just another way to share information, and all the same rules about sharing information apply, people will understand what to do.

4. Don’t cave into the demands of the millennials.

This is a direct result of the digital immigrant (blah blah blah) brainwashing that social media experts tried. Millennials aren’t demanding anything  – at least not the ones I work with. The ones I’ve interacted with are interested in learning how current processes work, and then finding ways to improve those processes.

The thing that really makes me nuts about this is that I work with folks who have used social technology since it was invented, heck most of us have deployed the systems on which social platforms run. Some people I know have used instant messaging, online communities, etc for 20 years! If you try to tell them that social media is something new that only 20 year-olds can do, they will tune you right out. The only thing that is new is the technology – but people (like me) have been using these tools for a long, long time.

3. Your teams already share knowledge effectively.

Maybe leaders actually believe this is true. If you know your organization, you know where the gaps are. Would people have more free time to work on higher-order issues if some knowledge sharing were moved to a social platform instead of email? What ways can social media be used to make knowledge sharing even more effective?

2. You’ll get viruses.

Ok – this one is sorta true. One of my least favorite sysadmin moments was the aftermath of the sasser virus. This virus was spread by clicking links in IMs – usually from one of your (infected) buddies. The IM would say something like “hey look at the pics you are in”. Worst memory: chatting with a QA friend, in his cube. I had *just* told him not to click on links in IM. He got an IM from another QA person, and clicked on the link as I said “nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”.

For the record, this is one reason companies started blocking IM. The virus was so nasty, we couldn’t get servers on the network and get them updated faster than the virus would mutate and infect the new server. This impacted customer projects. Not good for the bottom line

I bet I’m not the only person who remembers this. I don’t have a good idea how to counter-act this reason, because I think its a reasonable fear. Sorry everyone!!

1. Your competition isn’t using it, so why should you?

I think this one just proves the whole video was a joke. 🙂

And its easy to prove wrong. Do a Twitter search, do a search for a Facebook presence. Take screenshots, put them in a PowerPoint presentation. Point out how many people are following your competition, and perhaps point out some conversations the competition is having that could impact your bottom line. Send it to your stakeholders.

Its possible to encounter these objections to social media, work as a tempered radical in your organization to bring about change that will benefit everyone. Just anchor your reasoning in the things that will impact your organization’s business initiatives. This means lots of homework on your part!

3 thoughts on “10 reasons NOT to ban social media (a twist on the meme)

  1. As the line above the video says . “Be careful who you show this video to – they might actually believe it ;)”

    You’ve captured it well and you really hit it with
    “Why not set expectations for how you want your employees to use social sites, and let them connect?”

    After all didn’t we go through all this before with the intro of email ?

  2. Hi John! You know it would probably be interesting to dig out articles and posts written at the time email was rolled out universally. I hate when forget to learn from history and keep repeating the same mistakes…

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