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Social Media inside the Enterprise … and Euan Semple

Social Media’s impact on Conversations within the Enterprise

I’m becoming more and more interested in the impact Social Media has to cultural behavior within an organization. Introducing Social Media within an enterprise inevitably surfaces of culture change in key areas to the enterprise. Just this past week, I’ve had some provocative and spirited discussions with my boss, my company’s internal HR Manager, and others on what are acceptable boundaries of converation within an enterprise’s social media environment.

IMO, these boundaries are by no means clear cut. And in many cases the right balance between openness and control, transparency and discretion, being corporate relevance and “because I’m interested in it” … like beauty, the right balance may lie in the eye of the beholder.

But one thing for is for certain, IMO, is that Social Media, and really Web 2.0-style culture and communication, will have lasting and profound ways on how information flows within and across an organization. And it’s just beginning. Exciting for some, concerning to some, but interesting to be sure.

Euan Semple – ex of the BBC – speaks to the impact of Social Media in Business

I’ve recently come across a new name and personality who I really enjoy listening to, and not soley because of cool Scottish accent. His name’s Euan Semple, and he used to wear the hat of Director (or some such official title) of Knowledge Management for the BBC. What I find interesting about Semple’s views is his insight into the key cultural changes that underlie the successful adoption of Social Media within the enterprise.

Here’s a couple of videos of Semple on this topic. Here’s a very brief interview from FASTforward 09 earlier this year. And below is a video from 2006 of Semple speaking at the LIFT conference.

This is a brilliant interview BTW in exploring some of the ways Social Media can impact the culture of an organization. Here’s a summary of Semple’s SHIFT presentation, that describes his journey of implementing Social Media tools at the BBC.

Be Authentic, Be Relevant (for me) and Please Don’t Bore me

So as I’ve been thinking about what is, and is not, appropriate content to post on a company website, I had a radical thought. I’m not sure I even believe this is a good approach, but I like the sheer outrageousness of the idea. How about this as a sole criteria for blogging on a corporate website: “Be Authentic, be relevant (for me), but please don’t bore me.” That’s it!

In other words, say things that you feel are interesting and matter to you – on any topic that’s important to you. If what you say is relevant and interesting to others, they’ll come back to hear more. If not, they won’t. Simple.

Of course, I’d probably want to temper this a bit. Like some basic guidelines like be respectful in your posts. But you know, I don’t know if I’d constrain it much beyond that.

On “Being Social” in the workplace

The above idea actually came from one of the comments that Euan Semple made, which was something like “to get people to use Social Media tools, you have to allow them to be social”. And “being social” means talking about things that you are interested in and matter to you.

And really, isn’t that what we do anyway as social beings at work? Only we currently do it on the phone or around water coolers (or coffee machines!). And like one can be social at the expense of one’s work using conventional tools, one can also similarily abuse this privilege using Social Media.

Nothing’s changed there IMO … other than, of course, now “the conversation” is “potentially” company-wide. OK, so maybe that is a little different. In practice, however, we’ll likely end up forming virtual social communities across the enterprise just as we currently form them with people in our immediate work teams and social networks. And we’ll “tune in” to, and have conversations, with those that are talking about things we’re interested in.

In Summary …

So anyway, just some various musings. But I’d be very interested to hear any thoughts, one way or another, anyone else might have. What do you feel are the benefits of open conversations in the enterprise? And what are some of the risks and downsides?

And what do you think of the Euan Semple interview?

Later, glenn

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