Boy, social media sure seems to have got people talking! On the one hand you have Marketers going all a quiver over it, treating it like some divine new marketing tool and claiming it's the new CRM, (even giving it a suitable acronym - SCRM!) whilst at the same time obsessing over the ROI.
And then you have HR departments stuck with an awful dichotomy - is it a needless distraction for employees costing us £ in lost productivity? A shady place where poisoned conversations take place about their employer? Or is it 'the' new source of talent, the latest place to go fishing to find the workforce of the future, to belt out the 'employer of choice' message?
If you work in either function and you are struggling with social media in this way then I would say you are probably not really 'getting' social media in the first place.
Social media just 'is'.
Here's how I can best describe it:
Imagine you are standing outside a building that has blacked out glass windows. You know there are people inside but you have no idea how many or who they are. Inside there are, say, 100 people, each sitting on their own in little offices. Some of these people are your customers. Some of them are your friends. Some of them are your employees and some of them are people you have never met.
Most of these people are aware there are others in the building but have no idea how many. Some come out from time to time, occasionally meet and talk to others, realise they may actually know someone in one of the other offices but mostly they stay on their offices.
Now, try to imagine that at the flick of a switch the glass becomes clear and the internal walls disappear, allowing all the occupants inside to mix and mingle freely, to chat, to see who's there and who's who.
The clearing of the glass? Social media. The removal of the Walls?; Social media. The resulting conversations? Social media.
Now ask yourself this question - "where am I?"
If you 'get' social media you are inside the building, engaging in conversation, sharing experiences, making notes, exchanging ideas, having a giggle along the way maybe, in both an structured and unstructured way.
If you don't get it, you are probably sitting in the corner or making your way quietly out of the building without engaging anyone. Or maybe standing on a chair shouting inappropriate messages over the heads of those around you. Or worse still - standing outside looking in, wondering what "those people" are saying about you.
Social media is a stream of conciousness, a babble of conversations and a sense of 'connectedness' that used to take place between close friends, family members and employees face to face, by phone or email. The Internet and a whole bunch of tools (social networks etc) have just made these conversations visible, actionable, connectible.
And you don't need a social media 'guru' to help you understand this. As they say "beware a consultant wearing a watch!" All you need to do is get involved, being honest, genuine and open in the process.
Your employees using Facebook? Then you need to start communicating with them on it too. Customers talking about your products in Twitter? Then get on there and tweet them back.
Want to get social media? Simple - jump in and join the conversation.