Social Media: Helpful or Hurtful?

By Molly DePasquale, Intern

As the due date for my honors paper nears, I am reading more and more articles on anything and everything dealing with technology and communication in the workplace. I have come across a few very interesting and inspirational articles thus far. Two of the articles I read on the train recently going into Manhattan were “Don’t Delete the E-Messenger” by Aparna Nancherla from the American Society for Training & Development and “Are you a ‘social media evangelist’ or a communicator?” by Steve Crescenzo from the Communication World journal.

Crescenzo’s article is a critical take on how social media has consumed people’s personal lives and how it is now very visibly entering the workplace. But he poses the question: are social media tools the right fit for particular organizations? He mentions some very basic questions that can help an organization decide if the uses of social media would be an effective strategy and vehicle for communication.

For example:

  • What can social media do for our organization that our current tools cannot do?
  • What short-term opportunities are out there for us to try out some social media tools?
  • How can I change the organization’s communication style and content so it fits into the social media space?

Although social media is a thing of the present, it will continue to be a thing of the future as well. Being cognizant of how to use social media as an effective tool for communication is something that organizations must understand before they dive right in to the virtual networking world. This is important because if done incorrectly, it could be a great hindrance to the progress of an organization, but if done correctly social media sites can play a major role in the development and public awareness of the organization.

Nancherla’s article reaffirms the increasing number of organizations joining the social media world. According to the 2009/2010 Watson Wyatt Communication ROI Study, which surveyed 328 companies around the world, 65% of companies plan to increase their use of social media in 2010. What else was interesting were the reasons the other 35% of companies who did not plan to increase their social media use. Most of the reasons deal with limited staff knowledge of social media, lack of support and management, and restrictions from an inner-organization department. Surprisingly, “a limited staff or resources to implement social media” was the top reason for companies not implementing or expanding their use of social media. Some companies are not well-equipped for these new social media technologies, which is why a critical assessment of resources, knowledge, and accessibility of an organization is essential.

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