Encouraging the use of public social media

Over the last few days I have been collating rebuttals to the 10 reasons to ban social media.  Thanks to all who have contributed to this; the list is looking very good.  However, as I wrote my posting on Saturday, it occurred to me that managers might simply see  this list as a reason to allow access to public social media as a perk or workplace luxury, ie. something you take a break away from work to do or use!.  So what is needed also are good reasons why they should actively encourage access as a workplace NECESSITY. 

Later on in the afternoon, I came across this posting by a teacher, Jamie Forrest,  What Twitter has done for me.  I am sure there are plenty of other similar postings out there, but this article fitted in well with my thinking about the need to demonstrate the benefits of social media to the organisation.  Put very simply,  Twitter has (1)  improved her self-confidence and attitude, and (2) increased her desire for and pursuit of professional development..  The detail in the post, of course, provides the how and why.

This is an inspiring posting on the power of Twitter for an individual, but of course (business) managers are not interested in inspiring stories, they want hard facts and figures on the value it brings to the organisation or the cost savings that can be made.  

Putting a figure on the fact that an individual has developed into a more confident and competent teacher, whom others now look to for support is probably impossible to do, although it would certainly be possible to identify the intangible benefits it has had for the school.

Looking at it in terms of cost savings might be easier.  If Jamie had had to undertake similar staff development programmes paid for by her school, this would have cost a significant amount, whereas the cost to the school was only providing free and open access to Twitter.

Now, some might say that a "DIY" approach to staff development should not be promoted, as it sends the wrong signals to management that all staff development could or should be done in this way, i.e."on the cheap".  I am certainly not suggesting that should be the case, but rather that organisations should see the value in encouraging individuals to take much more responsibility for their own personal and professional development.  As I have mentioned in other places, as it is, in this fast moving world, most organisations can no longer keep their people up to speed using traditional, formal training.methods.

So, to get back to my initial point, what I think would be useful is to build a collection of examples that demonstrate how access to public social media has had both tangible and intangible benefits for an individual or team.  Do you have any experiences to share? 

Judith Christian-Carter has already posted about what Twitter has done for her, and my ITA colleague, Clark Quinn (in the second half of his posting) has provided some generic reasons on the value of social media).  In a follow-up posting,  I will provide a list of how social media has transformed the way I work.