On one of my recent posts, Social Media is Scary, Rick posed some pretty valid questions that essentially boiled down to “yeah, social media is scary, but now what? What can I do to address these concerns?” I thought this was a great follow-up question that I promised to answer in a future post.
So, what can you do to address the myriad reasons for social media being scary? In my next four blog posts, I’ll tackle each of the demographics that I brought up in the original posts one by one and illustrate how I handle the “social media is scary” line. Our first group is the Junior Employee –
For junior employees – “Yeah, that’s great that I can start a blog that everyone in the organization can read, but what will I say? What if my grammar is wrong or I spell something wrong – will people think I can’t write? What if I disagree with something that my manager says? What if I write too much and my boss wonders why I wasn’t working? I don’t know – I’ll have to really think about it.”
For junior employees, it’s all about tapping into their entrepreneurial spirit. Show them how they can use their organization’s internal blogs, wiki, bookmarks, etc. to identify their niche and to promote it. Show them how this voice that they now have can be used to advance their own career.
Junior employees lost in a mass of thousands – they’re often anonymous pluggers who are told that they have to “put in their time.” With the proliferation of social media both inside and outside the organization, this phrase is now more of an excuse than a reason. If you’re a junior employee who is sick and tired of being the gopher, of being tasked with doing nothing but web research, of not being invited to strategy meetings, DO something about it. Do your job well and stop whining about the lack of opportunities and create your own. You now have a voice. You now have a platform with which you can demonstrate your skills and expertise and create your own opportunities.
I’ve used my own experience as a case study here. When I first started pushing the words “social media” around my traditionally conservative firm, I started small. I pulled together some basic briefings and white papers, but never really got traction beyond my core team. Once we deployed internal blogs, a wiki, and forums, that’s when my work internally with social media really took off. I blogged every chance I got. I went in and created dozens of wiki pages on every social media tool I found. I commented on everyone’s blogs. I took every opportunity I could to get my name out there associated with social media, Web 2.0, New Media and anything else that was related to those terms. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, when I first started down this path, I was working 9-5 AND 5-9. I had to continue doing my actual job and then come home and work my tail off on this. Remember that no one is going to care what you have to say if you’re getting negative performance reviews because you’re neglecting your actual job in favor of something else.
Now, anytime anyone in my company searches the terms “social media” or “Web 2.0” or “blog” on our Intranet, my name pops up. What made me one of Booz Allen’s social media leads wasn’t some new title or promotion or org chart change – it was simply a matter of my putting my name out there along with my thoughts, opinions, and ideas and letting everyone judge me based on that. That first blog entry WAS terrifying, but you know what – I decided that I’d have to take that first step at some point, why not do it on something that I feel very confident about?
So, when a junior employee tells me that social media is scary, all I have to show them the benefits of social media, of how you can use these tools to position yourself how you want to be seen and where you want your career to go. I tell all of my mentees to find something, find anything, that they really enjoy and that they can somehow tie into the business of our organization. You’re in grad school studying Global Communication with a specialization in Middle Eastern Studies? Perfect! Go start a blog on that. Go create wiki pages that examine the impact of the Internet in Iran. Start a community of all others who are interested in learning more about that topic. Just identify your niche, and get out there already! If you’re a junior employee reading this and you’re STILL looking for motivation, then watch this spectacular video from last year’s Web 2.0 Expo in New York. Listen to Gary’s speech and then try to tell me that you’re not ready to go kill it!