This Thursday is aimWest’s first annual Social Media ConFab at the JW Marriott, at which I will be a panel moderator. According to my source, the numbers of attendees were still creeping up this week (she’s still hoping for 300) and yesterday’s GR Press story might help reach that goal!
The panel I’m moderating is about how social media is helping (or can help) internal collaboration within companies and organizations. The panelists will be Melissa Chiaramonti of Meijer and Harrison Withers of Media 1. Most often in the past I’ve spoken on web reputation, with social media being an important aspect that companies and organizations need to monitor and manage. Too many people don’t actively monitor what people are saying about their companies and brands online and, as a result, suffer reputational damage that could have been neutralized earlier just by becoming part of the conversation.
I am less of an “expert” on social media as a collaboration tool. Or am I? I used and participated in sharepoint sites while at Amway, which is the first thing that came to my mind on this topic. Thinking more broadly, with Independent Business Owners (IBOs) an extended part of Amway’s “internal” communications, I blogged for five or six years in ways to educate and seek the support and engagement of that key audience. I created content for the Web, including leading the “Interns Expose Amway” project that got our younger staff involved. Even the way we obtained approvals for communications was a form of social media. I was even part of the first (and probably last) virtual meeting held by Amway employees in Second Life.
I spent some time the past few days researching the topic of “internal collaboration” and, amazingly, I didn’t find a lot that really excited me.
To me, the biggest barrier to the success of social media as an internal collaborative tool for a working team is the weakest link. The one who just doesn’t get how to use social media tools or the one who needs to see the actual facial expression accompanying the real-time feedback they get from a peer.
I’m not one that would like to see an end to meetings because I do think they can contribute to quick collaboration and ensure the entire group is clear on direction or certain agreements. But these days, with far-flung teams, business travel and so many other meetings competing for everyone’s time, the use of social media can keep collaborative conversations alive that might have been stymied otherwise. And, after awhile, you get to know others’ writing styles and understand their tone of voice and those “facial expressions” aren’t even necessary anymore.