RichTech: Social Media in the Workplace Part 1

By Renee Revetta | Nov 20, 2009
More Articles by Renee


This week, I attended the RichTech TechSummit on social media in Richmond, Va.  The morning started with discussions about networking, then moved on to the benefits and concerns of social media, concluding with a best practices panel and cyber intelligence recommendations for dealing with this Wild West era of social media.

First up was Dr. Peter Gray of the McIntire School of Commerce at UVA.  He spoke about influence leaders, network analysis and how these things connect to social media.  In social media, many are concerned with growing large networks.  However, Dr. Gray said the networks of high-performers aren’t necessarily large; they’re well invested.

Our strong connections are important, but so are our periphery connections.  He said among our periphery connections, like people we follow on Twitter, is where innovation originates.  He also emphasized the importance of the collaboration reserve that is filled with the “go-to” experts on differing topics.  Gray said the collaboration reserve helps connect potential collaborators within the organization.

Check out the below chart that he used to explain the result of our connections and interactions with our network:

Overall, Gray pointed out four benefits of social media to consider when building your network:

1.      Build and strengthen core

2.       Expand periphery in low cost ways

3.       Enhance collaboration efficiency

4.       Develop low cost, highly effective collaboration reserve

Benefits of Social Media

Next was a panel with Greg Moyer SVP/Chief People Officer of SnagAJob, Matt Smith, Director of Marketing of VA Farm Bureau and Eric Williamson, VP/Digital Account Director of the Martin Agency.  Smith said he’s seen sales successes with Facebook, even in an admittedly “unsexy” field like insurance.  Williamson discussed the Martin Agency’s efforts with Wal-Mart’s rebranding, and repositioning to a “softer image.”  He said they’ve utilized mommy bloggers in their social media campaign, where they’ve allowed the bloggers to be open and say what they want to say.  Williamson cautioned to not be controlling with social media, and that although a strategy is necessary, manufactured communication doesn’t work in this arena. Moyer of SnagAJob offered some tips including – keep a blog, make it current, highly interactive, and lead everything to your main website. He said his company has experienced an increase in traffic since the implementation of their social media program Concerning social media policies, SnagAJob uses this simple phrase to guide “Snaggers”:

Smith expressed that the information must stay current, and someone must be “on” and able to engage constantly. Companies need to be monitoring in real-time, proactively prepare and respond if damage control is needed.  Williamson stressed the importance of responding within the same day of an incident. Two days after the incident is far too late.  Social media is real-time, and accessible anywhere.  Messages can spread very quickly, especially with many users engaged on their mobile phones. Williamson also spoke to the popularity of mobile devices as users’ main conduit to social networks and their importance in the future as social media continues to grow.

Social Media Concerns

Next, Mark Engels, Director of IT Risk Management of Dominion Resources, Chris Gatewood of Hirschler Fleisher, and Jeff Pearson, Vice President, Information Services at Bon Secours Health System spoke on a panel about social media from the security, IT and legal perspective. Pearson mentioned a few possible concerns: bandwidth, users leaking trade secrets, and viruses. Gatewood mentioned that these risks aren’t new; they’re just amplified with social media. All three mentioned concerns with URL shorteners, as users aren’t able to tell what domain the link is heading to before they click. They agreed that users who need social media for their jobs must be granted access, but those that don’t necessarily need it could be blocked from social sites for network security reasons.

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