Sunday, August 17, 2008

Social Media 101 2.0

Last Thursday evening I attended an IABC event in Rosslyn. The topic of discussion that evening was Social Media given by Denise Graveline, President of Don't Get Caught, a communications consulting firm in D.C.

Denise gave one of the best overviews of social media that I have ever attended to a crowd of about 100 communicators from government, private industry, non-profits and associations. Denise has summarized key points from her talk here. What stood out for me are the examples she gave about the ways social media are evolving and the next "trends" or uses. This includes more CEO blogging (if Bill Marriott can do it, no CEO has an excuse); the emergence of blogs for employee/internal communication (McDonald's Station M); the "specialization" or targeted social networks arising in the 2.o stage to address an individuals specific need or interest (Disaboom and Bakespace); and the continuing popularity and importance of online video.

While social media remains popular and more clients ask for "best practices" on how to implement such a strategy, it's important to emphasize that there is no "one size fits all" approach. A fellow IABC member at the meeting shared with us his company's recent investigation into starting their own employee social media site. He said they surveyed current associates to determine the interest and desire of a company-specific social networking site. What he found is that 100% of his associates already had Facebook accounts and almost 90% of them did not want their employer on Facebook. As one male associate he surveyed said, "Having your employer on Facebook is a lot like your parents chaperoning the high school dance." I thought that was a great analogy. Now my fellow IABC member is deciding what to do next - spend the capital for an internal (and yes, more benign) employee only networking site or focus its efforts elsewhere for employee morale and brand communications.

As companies try to make inroads to reinforce their brand, does it make sense to start a vertical social networking site for employees? Should employers be allowed to view employees social networking pages on Facebook?

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