Several articles and blog posts have been published over the last few years on what businesses need to consider to manage and employ Generation Y (aka the Millennials). There was even a Managing Generation Y book written. And I think the changes in management and leadership that are coming about for that will also apply for organizations considering hiring a social media participant, someone like me, for instance.
Here are some thoughts an employer might consider, and a few that you as a social media type might use to your advantage.
Firewalls: Our Biggest Enemy
The first thing I notice upon arriving somewhere to work is just how much of the Internet is offline and unavailable to me. Within ten minutes of firing up a browser, I’ve usually bounced against some of the company’s rulesets, most of which were just a certain level’s built-in blockage. By their nature, most firewall rulesets block:
- IM services
- Online shopping communities like eBay
- More blogs than you’d imagine
- Download sites for most applications.
I’m blocked 3-7 times a day, and almost always with an incorrect blocking message by the firewall company. For example, Louis Gray was blocked as religion. Only if tech geeks are now a religion, and then, I’m praying.
In lots of cases, these policies exist for a reason, and they are probably good to have in mind for the larger user set. It’s not even that a company has to consider productivity, which they do, but that a company might not want to have to deal with what happens when their employee is doing something illegal via a company computer using a social network. One stalker/child predator problem later, and there goes the neighborhood. Most companies want to avoid this up front instead of seek forgiveness later.
How You Might Work on That
In my case, it was reasonably easy. I stated that I needed access to XYZ site because that’s the value I bring to the organization: my connectedness to these various social networks. For others, the proposition might take a little more explaining. If you have to convince someone of which sites you want to access and why, here are some tips:
Don’t be vague about access to blogs. Mention that you check Mashable and TechCrunch regularly for Internet tools and technology advice. Mention the New York Times blogs or FastCompany, too. Lead with these; get Gaping Void in the next round. : )
In asking for YouTube, point out that IBM predictions for 08 video, and that .. and that Amazon virtual storage and server demo from Second Life (might even bonus your request for SL access), and maybe even a C++ programming tutorial. Remember: people think YouTube is about farting dogs on skateboards. Tell them it’s not.
Instant Messenger is a fear point to most organizations. For whatever reason, they see that little rectangle not as a time-waster, but a portal through which you will accidentally copy/paste the outside world your best code, or copy for your CEO’s big merger announcement. Maybe they’re right. When you ask for access to IM, explain how it might work nicely as a team initiative, and talk through how much faster asking a question in IM is versus making phone calls for the same data. Point out how an IM carries the payload of your request faster.
Your big fight with video isn’t that companies are very worried about you watching lots of movies at work (they might be, but that’s only one issue). Bandwidth is the issue here. I’ve been in a big office, with a really fat pipe, that has gone to its knees due to some interesting news streaming live on CNN.com. Suddenly, work-related matters fall into a frozen state because three or four folks wanted to see a space shuttle take off. It crushes the argument pretty quickly.
Go gently into this one. If you NEED video at your day job, it’s probably easier to request. Otherwise, I might stay clear of this one for a while. Being the center of a lag issue could scuttle the ship on all the other things you’re trying to accomplish. Just my thought there.
Quick Hits for Social Media Advocacy
- Subscribe to WebWorkerDaily and read it often. They have TONS of pointers for people who work online. Lots of them can be helpful to what you need.
- Point to business cases and use specifics. Not “blogs,” but “New York Times Tech blogs.”
- Go for a few things at a time. Don’t overwhelm the decision maker on this. And don’t sound waffly. This is just what you need to do your job. If it’s not, don’t ask.
- Don’t explain Twitter. It will eat too many conversations. Explain it later.
- Remember that the mobile web is getting easier to use.
- Don’t forget Meebo (though some firewalls block it as a proxy site).
- Remember every keystroke you type into your work computer MIGHT be logged via the firewall, IM included. This is information security, not spying, but it still feels the same.
- Most decent IT organizations log how much active time you’re using XYZ apps. If you’re slacking, it will show. (My workaround on this is being measured on my results, not what web page I spend time searching).
I’m sure you have some ideas on this. How have YOU succeeded? What are your war stories? Where have you been thwarted in your plans? And have you worked for places that are better than not at understanding the value of social media and social networking at work? (I sure have!) What’s YOUR take?
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.
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Photo credit, Kyle and Kelly Adams