Years ago, Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury cartoon had Mike's boss stop by his desk saying "Mike. We need a web page!!".
"Why?", Mike asks.
"Because everybody else has one!" was the boss's reply. "OK, sure", says Mike.
In the next panel he is calling his teenage daughter asking "What's a web page?"
For some reason that cartoon has come back to my memory, only this time substitute "Social Media strategy" for "web page".
Aside from being this week's topic, an IT leader who isn't dealing with Social Media (SM) issues should really stop what they are doing and check out how the world has changed around them. In today's IT environment, you need to have a SM strategy. Your organizational survival depends on it.
CIO's and IT leaders have to approach SM from several directions.
The first is the growing presence of people using SM from their desks and company wide mobile devices and is usually dealt with by blocking this rogue traffic. SM is seen as a thief of productive time, and a huge waste of network resources. SM is seen as a nusiance which threatens control. If this is the environment you find yourself, you are missing out on some tremendous opportunities. (I'll save this conversation for a future post).
Secondly, as an IT leader, you need to be engaged in SM. Do you have a LinkedIN, Twitter account, or blog? Why not? I do a lot of research on IT trends and markets. I find that with a few well selected follows on Twitter, I have cut down my daily research time substantially since there is a host of bright people who are sharing their research. I often find out about things hours before the regular news feeds.
SM also lets me build and keep a professional network of colleagues, vendor partners, and friends. If I have a question, or need to find someone with experience in a particular area, I'll pose the question to this group first. I use LinkedIn for this.
Just for reference, here are my SM coordinates:
Click here for a link to my profile, or search for my name on Linkedin
www.twitter.com/InvisiTech - Technology related tweets
www.twitter.com/21stCentSchool - Technology in education related tweets
www.twitter.com/synectics - Personal and lifestyle tweets
I have to admit that although I have a Facebook account, it has little professional benefit, and as such, I may check it on a monthly basis. Do I really need to know who is going out drinking? Besides, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 50 something ladies, a demographic into which I do not fall.
The third is similar to our friend Mike Doonesbury. We are often called into the meeting because SM is still viewed as "technology" by many people, as opposed to a communications strategy. We are asked to determine how to leverage SM services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Skype, IM, Windows Live, etc. to build sales, connect with customers, communicate to employees, or my favorite - to differentiate our company from our competitors.
The fact that they are asking the IT group to look after this is a pretty good indication that management has no idea about SM. If they did, they would have the Marketing and Communications groups at the table because SM is about connecting, and informing, and building and keeping relationships. It's about building your brand and ensuring you keep your brand front and centre in the marketplace. It supports and extends your existing marketing. As CIO, you need to understand this, and be able to articulate how you can help rhe Marketing and Communications group succeed in implementing SM services.
If you simply build a Facebook page, or open a Twitter feed that is never updated, you join the millions of stagnant pages and accounts. Your boss will not be pleased.
So if you (as IT leader) are approached to implement a Social Media presence for your organization, you really need to do more than phone your kids to find out what it means.