“None” is Not a Social Media Strategypost by Chris Curran on July 22, 2009
Saying “No” to social media is a big mistake, especially if the decision was driven by the CIO. Over the last few weeks, I have spoken to two CIOs, one in financial services and one in the public sector, who say their organizations have a “no social media” policy.
I agree that there are many reasons to limit what your employees post on Facebook or LinkedIn. That said, shutting off the spigot entirely misses out on some incredible opportunities to learn and experiment and, if you get lucky, create some real value for your organization.
For discussion’s sake, I would propose that we use the following capabilities (along with some examples) when we talk about social media:
- Blogs - WordPress, Blogger
- Microblogs - Twitter (public); Yammer (private)
- Social Networks - Facebook, LinkedIn
- Social Multimedia - Flickr, YouTube
- Wikis - Wikipedia (public), MediaWiki (private)
- Social Bookmarks - StumbleUpon, Delicious
- Social News - Reddit, Digg
- Prediction Markets - Hollywood Stock Exchange
Other categories, such as massively parallel games and product reviews, are sometimes included, but I’ve left them out for simplicity.
A CIO Social Media Framework
I think the primary driver of the “No Social Media” strategy is that there are a dizzying number of sites and services and it’s hard to find a place to start. Enter the trusty 2×2 matrix to help us sort it out. There are two questions I hear a lot and so these frame the matrix axes:
- Community: Internal or External?
- CIO Focus: Personal or Organizational?
Some of you may think that a CIO’s personal perspective doesn’t belong in this discussion. Based on my own experience, I think that the personal and corporate goals go hand-in-hand when it comes to social media. The personal relationships that you develop reflect directly back to your organization - exactly the reason so many fear social media in the first place.
With these two questions, we can discuss 4 types of social media every CIO should be interested in prioritizing and exploring. In each quadrant, I’ve noted some of the objectives that could be met with each type of investment.
I won’t bore you be draining each quadrant, but instead offer some ideas and experiments for each that you could customize to fit your situations. Once you learn more about each, including the inherent risks and issues, you can establish a more formal strategy and set of priorities.
Internal - Personal
- Start an internal CIO blog (or podcast, as one CTO I know did), not just for the IT organization, but focused on integrating what IT is working on into the business context and discussing technology innovations you are seeing that could benefit your firm
- Establish a set of bookmarks using Delicious and share them with your management team so they know what you are reading and thinking about.
Internal - Organizational
- Launch an internal wiki to define industry and firm-specific terms, concepts, competitors, suppliers, etc.
- Try one of the microblogging platforms intended for enterprises, Yammer or Identi.ca. (this would mostly benefit larger and mult-site organizations)
- Try a prediction market to gather employee insights into the projected success/failure of your top 10 projects.
External - Personal
- Develop a public blog that helps to explain your perspectives on industry, standards and/or IT leadership issues. See Stephen Gillett’s blog as an example - he’s Starbucks’ CIO.
- Establish a presence on Twitter. See Are There Any Real CIOs in the Twitterverse and 3 Reasons a CIO Should Care About Twitter for more.
External - Organizational
- Work with your sales and marketing functions to conduct a customer service experiment using Twitter or GetSatisfaction. Some publicized examples are Comcast and FedEx. Check out #brainstormtech for some interesting tweets on the subject. Also, Twitter will soon launch an overhauled site to make it more accessible, including to businesses. Here is some of the early release.
- Experiment with the Twitter API to see what you can learn about what others are saying about your company, competition, products and industry. This can also be an eye-opener to the power of opening up your own systems and publishing an API.
- Use LinkedIn as a primary source when you do a job search for your next senior IT manager/VP.
By blending personal and organizational objectives, a CIO can develop real, hands-on experience in social media and become equipped to deal with issues and opportunities head-on, instead of reactively from the sidelines.