I am going to push a little harder on this issue as it has become a growing source of frustration for me. I continue to encounter companies, schools and non-profits that block access to social networking sites, content-sharing sites, etc. I agree with you that this is largely an issue of leadership and I think that it is issue that allows us to see which organizations have a proactive leadership stance and which ones have a reactive leadership stance. And I would say that in the world in which we live, if you are being reactive your days are numbered.
Not only does blocking Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. show a desire to manage activity rather than productivity, it shows a complete lack of understanding about how information travels, how employees become engaged, how innovation happens and how value is created today. It also helps ensure that your organization remains largely clueless about something that is changing nearly all aspects of how we do things. There are companies that are actively using Twitter to promote their brand, to recruit talent to provide customer serive and there are those that block it, deny it and shake their fist at it.
To put it another way; some of use tools, some of us are tools.
With the rate of change today, organizations can ill afford to block, deny and shake their fist at the changes that are taking place in the world. I think there are 200 million people on Facebook right now. Some of them are your customers. Some of them are potential customers. Some of them are your employees. Some of them are your potential employees. It really makes a lot of sense for you to be there. If you are not there, I probably will be there taking them away from you.
The same is true regarding Twitter and “social media” in general. A friend of mine put it like this; “If you are doing anything of any significance in the world, people are going to talk about you. You should be there.“
Closing your eyes and covering your ears does not mean the conversation stops…it just means you don’t get to benefit from it.
I LOVE this post! You have summed it up perfectly: blocking social media sites is just one visible symptom of an organization trying to manage activity and time rather than productivity and results.
As you say, Twitter and other sites are changing almost every aspect of how we gather and communicate information. And when used correctly, can actually make you more productive even faster.
Leaders should spend their time focusing on helping employees produce results and give up trying to control every moment and activity in between.
Thanks for the great discussion!
“To put it another way; some of use tools, some of us are tools.”
Hi Ashley, thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts. Great minds right?
Most companies haven’t fully harnessed the power of traditional media, let alone “new” or social media. How powerful could you be as a company if you recruited people who were active in new media networks and used their talent and inclination to tweet or blog or link-in or Facebook for your corporate goals? Dell for example has Facebook presence to deal with customer complaints rather than have unhappy Rambo’s out in the blogosphere.
As a user, whether corporate or individual, the challenge is balancing WHICH networks to WHAT END so that you don’t get overwhelmed.