Many of the people who will read blogs like this will be familiar with the oft-mentioned benefits of social media. It is social, it allows collaborations and conversations to develop with like minded people, it is the future! Readers may well also be familiar with some of the potential downsides of social media – the loss of central control, the need to actually trust your staff, the ease with which an ill-judged comment can become splashed across local or national media.
One area however that has not received as much attention as it might is the use of social media tools within your organisation. I presented on the use of such tools at the Policing 2.0 conference back in October 2010 at Ryton, and there was a significant amount of interest in Lincolnshire Police’s experiments with a tool called Yammer. In a nutshell Yammer is much like Twitter, with the one exception that only people with a company email address can access the network (although there are ways of creating wider networks with other companies if you wish). We introduced Yammer as a bit of a test so we could see if it would be a useful tool; within a few months the network had grown to 300 or so users with no publicity and just viral growth. Usage is relatively low still, with no more than 2-3 posts a day, but all the posts are work related, and there have been some really good examples of people using Yammer to solve problems and make connections across organisational silos – often in small ways, but each adding value to those involved.
There are plans afoot for Yammer – a formal launch to explain to those unfamiliar with social media what the idea is and what it can be used for, perhaps even a ‘yamjam’ – a live session for people to use Yammer to ask and answer questions on a particular topic, or discuss an issue with a group of experts or senior managers. The tool may or may not be the right one for you – there are plenty of alternatives and there are minor issues over the security of the data (the data lives on Yammer’s servers not your own), but in this age of austerity where people are looking to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of their organisations, and when people are using social media tools in more aspects of their lives outside of work, what is stopping you from trying one of these tools within your organisation?