Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Social Media, Listening and Open Networking

A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in London stated that the biggest barriers to companies embracing social media as:

  • a lack of understanding of how social media works
  • a lack of awareness of the data it can generate
  • a fear of a more open approach
Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the CIPD, said “employers should also be thinking hard about the opportunity social media gives them to simultaneously collect opinions and facilitate discussion about genuine opinions and ideas, and to analyse the data in rich and meaningful ways.”

So let us look at these three barriers as questions, I will try to answer them as simply as possible and perhaps we can all gain a little more understanding:

How does Social Media work?
Social media is just a form of communication and we use various platforms (some people see this as technology) to communicate e.g. Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and various others. 

What we should understand is that these platforms have not forced or made us communicate, but it is actually what we needed so that we could connect with like minded individuals all over the world. The different social media platforms unable us to share our interests so that people can relate to us and we can have conversations about the things we like and the things we do.

Importantly social media is about being social and it is about about building real relationships, relationships that will develop and which will lead us to new connections, new customers and ultimately increased sales and more revenue streams.

What data can be generated from Social Media?
The simple answer is every bit of data and information you could possibly imagine, how you use this data is more important, as it is literally everywhere, just ask the right questions and every answer you ever wanted is answered in no time.

Even if you don't ask the specific questions, social listening enables us to track trends, get feedback on products and even find out what people are saying about us and the companies we work for.

Why are companies and individuals not adopting a more open approach?
Being open or being authentically social is who we actually like to be, no I am not saying be an extrovert. In fact you will be exactly as you are on the social media platforms as you are in life: Introverts remain introverts and extroverts, well they never change.

Being more open is about realising you that actually have something valuable to say and that someone is actually wanting to listen, social media has enabled normal people to find their voice. Knowing that someone out there is actually listening and will actually respond to what you have to say is wonderful recognition.

Open is about sharing, selfish is the easy way and it takes courage to share, but in the brave new world it is the approach we need to take, never take the safe option, it will prove to be extremely risky in the very near future.

In short if you not out there interacting on the platforms, listening and having the conversations you will never know what is being said, but your competitors may just be doing what you are thinking of doing and that will give them the competitive edge. 

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at

Do you agree with these barriers to Social Media adoption? Do you have other areas that you feel need discussion?
How could your business use it as a way of improving internal communications?