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Using Social Media as a Guide on Effective Management Communication

Social media sites reflect the means and methods for humans to connect.

The most effective manager is one who not only can communicate but connects with others.  A connection involves more than just information.  It’s emotional, potentially spiritual, and often reflects similar motives, preferences, or values between two or more people.  When I helped to create About.com back in the 1990s we understood that the Internet needed a people connection.  At that time all you really had was traditional command line gopher and navigation systems, a directory listing through Yahoo, and a search query system through AltaVista.  Yes, I’m old, this was before “Google” was accepted as a verb in our language.  We addressed the people need (social media) by asking world renown experts to cultivate content and communication online.  Our connections with others took place through email, postings to websites (we call those blogs now), and similar means.  Today the world has specialized social networking sites, all reflecting how people desire to connect with one another.  Let’s look at this from a managers perspective to get an idea of how we might want to tune our connections with others:

  • Facebook: Short posts of text, video, and images with the ability to share within public or private groups.  Kids of this age are rapidly moving to other social media sites to get away from their parents and to honor their own generation preferences.  Facebook, in my mind, is more about staying connected on a higher level with friends.  So then, how do you stay in touch with the personal lives of people you work with, at least on a high level?  Sometimes just asking a question or a few short questions is a way to learn something about another colleague, show value, and that you care.  Don’t be such a busybody that you miss the opportunity to befriend a colleague on some level.  Some of your best friends in life might be people you met at work.  Great managers often have a group of people that follow them and work with them at several companies…because they have a deep connection and trust and are highly effective as a team.
  • YouTube: All videos.  Watch one video, then see suggested ones and click on that.  It can be addictive for people that prefer this type of medium.  Whatever you do don’t show them a ‘cute cats’ video – they’ll be watching them all day long and you’ll have major productivity losses when they Facebook that to their colleagues :).  If we can put together a short video it says millions of words to the right people.  Keep it short, entertaining, and of value to the audience and you’ll be effective.  Your presentations and also marketing should be designed in a similar manner, focused upon driving perceived connection and value to the audience.
  • Twitter: Short text comments are the king of Twitter.  I desire a deeper connection so I’ve avoided this for a long time.  I’ve seen interesting applications of this in a dynamic sense.  Once I was on a panel speaking at a security event where Twitter was promoted.  People would tweet their criticisms and feedback on the Twitter page while we were talking.  I got the feed and was able to see where the audience was coming from and addressed it from the panel in real-time.  I didn’t expect that when I agreed to be a panelist at that event!  Twitter is much like how we need to communicate with others on a broader sense, short, to the point, spot on.  Time is one of our greatest commodities, as it is for our colleagues, so long posts like this don’t work for touch points and quick updates to others.  Think to yourself, as a manager, how can I tap into the pulse and give leadership updates in a way that is more consumable for my colleagues and staff.
  • LinkedIn: Kinda like Facebook for but work.  I’ve seen people post things like “I know this isn’t Facebook” followed with a personal posting.  Context is king, and LinkedIn has successfully established that they are the context for work related updates, posts, etc.  It’s kinda like resumes and connections on steroids, by work for work.  Personally I love it because there are so many people on the move it’s hard to keep track of them and sometimes you’d lose connections (old corporate email bounces) that can now be maintained through LinkedIn.  The lesson we take away from this is related to context in communications.  As a manager you can intentionally cultivate context in various types of communications.  For example, you could integrate a GRC executive communication designed to meet that audiences needs for critical GRC updates.
  • Pinterest: A picture says a thousand words, and there’s already a YouTube for video…Pinterest!  It’s interesting – I signed up recently and I have to say I love the photo introduction leading to a Facebook type page, which may then branch off into who knows what for content.  I love to hunt and there’s a few pages and “follows” I’ve established through this new medium that I didn’t follow or know about before.  I also find how categories of information pushed to you (based upon preferences) can show funny pictures or whatever as part of a customized Pinterest view.  I think of Pinterest as how to influence without authority.  If you create content and communications that you can push towards others in a visual, short textual, high value manner you can generate interest and change cultural values over time. Keep it engaging and make sure the content is spot on for driving value.

We are all different and prefer different types of connections.  In my consultation I have one client that prefers to text everything…pictures, contracts, essential details, etc.  It drives me crazy because I’m an e-mail person at heart, where I can more efficiently process and archive all such data.  I understand my client is a text’er so I text him instead of email and have adapted my own processing for the client to meet their needs.  Do you know how each one of your colleagues desires to communicate?  Some may want short Twitter like updates and connections throughout the day.  Others may want to have a water cooler talk or opportunity for a side conversation or three on personal subjects mixed with business (think Facebook).  If you focus upon what each person values and needs you’ll be more effective at reaching and motivating others as a manager.