Let Your People Media


by Samuel Greengard

Staffing firm Robert Half recently reported that 54 percent of CIOs do not allow employees to visit social networking sites for any reason while at work. In other words, these firms put social nets right up there with porn and gambling sites on the naughty naughty list.

I'm left scratching my head. The sooner that business leaders recognize that social networking is here to stay -- and that it presents a genuine business opportunity -- the better off everyone will be.

Of course there's a need for rules, policies and controls.

But no access at all? Why don't these CIOs simply ban telephones and spreadsheets?

The number of social networking services is multiplying at a dizzying rate. That's because people are people and they desire interaction. They also derive value from social networking. Hence Facebook's status as the number one site on the Internet, and the popularity among professionals of LinkedIn for job candidates, sales opportunities and knowledge.

The reality is that we've only begun to tap into the capabilities and opportunities social media offers. Mobility, location-based services and real-time global interaction are remarkable. But who knows what's possible and what we haven't even envisioned yet?

Take Broadcastr, a new service that allows participants to post audio clips online through the Website or their iPhone or Android device. These clips, which can range from the profound to the inane, wind up pinned to a location. Listeners can then filter and access them by categories, keywords or other criteria.

"It's like a museum tour of the whole world, notes Scott Lindenbaum, co-founder of Broadcastr. If you're at Ground Zero or you want to visit there virtually, for example, you can listen to the stories of others. If you're standing outside a blues nightclub in Chicago you can hear what others have to say about the music or the food.

Imagine the same capability modified for sales, training or knowledge sharing.

You get the idea.

The pace of innovation isn't about to slow down. Savvy business and IT execs will look for ways to strategically incorporate social media for customers, employees and business partners. They'll stay current with the fast-changing environment because they understand that, at the end of the day, social media is nothing short of a game changer.