Social Media, Risk or Opportunity?

A couple of days out of the office with IT Support Staff from other Higher Education IT Service teams and also delivering a session for our HR Team on use of social media and technology to aid communication has prompted me to reflect on the power of social media. I’d be interested in what you think?

Whether we like it or not, we now live in an always connected, transparent world. Each of us has to decide both in a personal and a professional context whether we see this as a threat or an opportunity. What we can’t do is turn back the clock and hope it will go away. You may have heard of Generation X (brought up without online technology) and Generation Y (brought up in the internet world). There is now Generation C – brought up in the always connected world with smartphones and tablets.

In the “good old days” we managed by metrics from behind a desk as it was hard to get feedback and interact with large numbers of customers. Now customers tell us what they think, both positive and negative. So the balance has shifted. Given it’s how we respond that defines the service we provide, should we spend our effort on lots of metrics or on establishing the dialogue and receiving feeds through social media so we know what our customers really think. The great service organisations (e.g. @VirginTrains) use this technology to their advantage.

To communicate well, we need a brand, and I wonder how many of us who lead teams would know what our brand is. What do we want to be known for? For my area (IT Service at The Open University) I want us to be known as the folks who help OU Staff make best use of the technology and not just the folks who fix it (or advise you to turn it off and on again!!) when it breaks.

Blogging also gives an opportunity to communicate in a more informal engaging way. It takes effort and time, but I think this is a worthwhile, and more productive way of communicating, and the statistics I get internally from my weekly blog(over 200 views a week) bear this out.

Of course there is a risk with all this. What if we say something we should not on a twitter feed or a blog? I see two answers to this,

  1. What is the risk of not engaging and taking part in the conversations that are going on anyway and
  2. A bit of common sense is all that is needed – think before you press return!

What staggered me is 57% of Higher Education IT Service Desks now have a twitter feed. Take a look, for example @StAITServices. It’s great for passing out information, updates and getting feedback from staff and students. Not having a feed I think is fast becoming not an option. Our customers (students and staff) are talking about us on there anyway. We might as well know what they are saying and respond!

What do you think?

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One thought on “Social Media, Risk or Opportunity?

  1. Pingback: #CIOevent Social Media Session – Summary, Takeaways and useful links. | Mark Jacot

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