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Social Media in the Workplace -or- Suck on THIS, Rupert Murdoch!

The proliferation of Social Media tools has unlocked what many of us have seen for years as the potential of the internet.

Why do people use Social Media?
Sure, you have people vying for their “fifteen minutes of fame” – God, I despise Warhol, but I have to give it to him for that phrase.
Some people use it as the ultimate glad-handing tool – reaching out to thousands, even millions, of people who were once out of their reach and looking for personal gain through business networking, sales leads and plain, old fashioned sycophancy.
Quite a few also use it to stay in more regular contact with friends and loved ones and assuage their guilt for not having either the time or the inclination to hand-write and mail that letter saying, “I miss you. This is what’s happening in my life, what about yours?”
There are many of us, though, who are using it to take one more baby step toward the egalitarian ideal of being judged and recognized for the contribution we can offer with our minds.

All of these reasons have one thing in common…

Those of us who grew up wanting to be writers have often been told, and perhaps rightfully so, that we may as well try to be a Hollywood actor, because our chances of actually making a living as an author weren’t much better.
When I would tell people that I wanted to be an author, I’d often be asked what I want my REAL job to be.
"It’s all well and good to have your head in the clouds, but be sure to keep your feet on the ground at the same time."
I’m just not that tall.

I focused my efforts on the endless string of sundry real jobs I have had, and spent my spare time – if I could find any – writing.
Writing, however, is not a spare time hobby for most – not if they ever want to get published, anyway.
It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes dedication.
Most unfortunately of all, however, it takes connections.

While it does make a difference if you have something significant or innovative to say – who you know matters quite a bit more. Your options to have your voice heard have historically been luck, connections, scandal or voracious drive.
Play the game or die off in obscurity like most of us.

The same has always gone for other media.
If you’re willing to scandalize yourself, make a complete ass of yourself or suck Rupert Murdoch’s teat you could have a voice on television – otherwise, it’s luck of the draw.
Unfortunately, perhaps ironically, the game is a dirty one and only the greasiest are successful at it.

Then the internet came.

The promise many of us saw in the internet was the ability to break those barriers down and hand the people the keys to the hegemonic machine.
Suddenly we had a voice: Newsgroups, forums, message boards… Our reach had extended unfathomably far beyond what was possible just a few years earlier.

We could find someone six-thousand miles away from us to discuss the merits of Kant with, but it was still just a few of us sitting in a room chatting – and generally with a relatively myopic purpose.
Blogs were a step further but the problem, of course, was that in a room full of shouting voices, nobody gets heard.

We were so close we could taste it, but there was still something missing.
Social Media

Suddenly we were presented with tools that would allow us to find people with like interests to learn from, teach and collaborate with – tools that would allow us to have our voices heard by those who actually have power and influence in the fields that interest us – tools that could help give wings to ideas based solely on the merits of the idea – tools that would effectively extend our reach.
We were handed tools that could be the spark of the Egalitarian Revolution.
My proof? Simple. You're reading this.

Our ideas – regardless of what title we held, what education we had, what connections we fostered – could be the next cultural meme, spreading like a virus.
The hegemonic machine is still running, and always will be, but now nobody holds the keys because we all do. Now we all have direct access from our minds into the controls of the machine.
Rupert Murdoch can suck MY teat!
What will we do with it?

The potential is absolutely limitless, and many of us have many ideas.
One of those brilliant ideas is to harness that open-door collaborative potential to empower our employees.

How much talent, wisdom, innovation and brilliance is rotting away in the dark recesses of your organization – frustrated and impotent without a voice?
How many middle managers lack the vision and/or capability to empower those down-trodden voices?
How many of those voices have been stagnating or even entirely stamped out through years of neglect?
How many brilliant minds have you lost over the years to competitors, other fields or disgruntled apathy?
How much raw potential goes to waste?

Imagine for a moment, if you had a tool that could tap into the minds of all those employees with real value to offer the organization.
Imagine if you had a tool that could seek out bits and pieces of expertise on an extraordinarily wide spectrum of knowledge and experience and focus those bits and pieces onto a single challenge all at once.
Imagine you had the capability of being aware of all the esoteric knowledge sitting within the minds of the most passionate individuals in your organization and being able to apply it.
Imagine employing a technique that would allow the talent to float to the top of your organization and be recognized for their merit and capabilities – as opposed to empowering fools with a title who got where they are because of how well they play the game of greasy politics or through the Peter Principle.
(Every year on my “Voice of the Employee” feedback form I include that reading “The Peter Principle” should be a prerequisite for all managerial positions.)

Imagine the innovation potential in a truly egalitarian organization.

If the thought of using Social Media to access the vast resource of raw, untapped potential in your organization and putting it to use to fuel innovation and employee satisfaction through meaningful challenges and rewards doesn’t excite you, then you’re a damned fool.
The companies that do appreciate that potential will scoop all that talent away from you and out-innovate you. Soon.

October 27, 2010, 03:32:02 pm

About The Author



You mean "The private social network for your company." My company uses it too. And yes, it works as a big company's idea box. And yes, people are reading it on all levels.
The tooling has been done. I wonder if the social freedom will be accepted within company borders. The company's who do, will be the ones who are already openminded. Time will tell.

Craig Wilkey

I've never heard of Yammer, but I will check them out now.

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