When the world needs a simpler way of communicating life events, feelings and goals to their "friends", "fans" and "followers" around the world, social media adapts to control efficient processes (regular, annoying application updates and layout tweaks), develop beta processes, empower end users with opportunities to push more engagement (Twitter's ads, Facebook's “Tom, Dic and Harry like this" notifications) and integrate all aspects of a person's everyday life with the SaaS idea (the evolution of mobile).
While still in its infancy, this may be a great time for employers to test drive social media platforms in the workplace. As the baby boomer generation phases into retirement and the millennial generation is getting an introduction to the adult work-life balance, social media is center stage waiting for something to happen.
(It might just be me, but it won't long before Facebook and Twitter develop individual platforms for internal workplace collaboration and social interaction, a move that would surely solidify a way for each to monetize their popular services and ultimately perform at understandable levels on Wall Street.)
So, how do we leverage the natural human need to interact with already-evolving uses of technology in the workplace?
I've heard at least 20 good ideas that involve everything from the direct implementation of social media use as mandated by a Chief Information Officer, to pulling every form of internal communication in an office onto one intranet and making it safe for employees to share their thoughts on company policy, events, growth and more. The general idea is that if "we can make it secure and establish user rules," businesses can make social media a tool for production instead of a distraction from work.
Here's how I see it: Ever since I heard the words "software as a service" in college, I knew the landscape of technology would change to benefit the needs of people, businesses and the course of history. It was only a matter of a few years.
It is a good idea -- possibly the best idea -- to encourage collaboration across multiple parts of an organization to engage people through technology and social mediums. If a company (or hell, even a weekly bicycle-riding group of middle-aged parents) wants new insight into how to be more productive, why not apply SOCIAL with TECH and multiply it by PEOPLE. The least you'll get is suggestive data showing how the people you count on most are spending their time.
I'm a huge fan of engagement. Worldwide engagement. Internal engagement. Romantic engagement. Familial engagement. I believe that if your people are not seeing what the boss is seeing, then your company is at a loss. Employees need to believe in the dream and see why it's important to the boss so they can decide if it's important to them.
I'm also a social media enthusiast. As overused as that term is, I am happily riding that bandwagon until the wheels fall off. I see the versatility and potential furthered versatility in all social forums. Social media can connect groups as small as the Middletown High School drama club to organizations as massive as Arab Spring revolution.
Communication is everything in a successful group. With social media's ever-evolving and ever-present place in the way seven billion people communicate, there's no way to ignore it in the office space.