Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Social Media and Management

From the McKinsey Quarterly (free once you register), here's an interesting piece on six social media skills every leader needs, along with some suggestions for implementation. Social media can be off-putting, but a working knowledge, or better, is necessary, say authors Roland Deiser and Sylvain Newton.

By nature unbridled, these new communications media can let internal and privileged information suddenly go public virally. What’s more, there’s a mismatch between the logic of participatory media and the still-reigning 20th-century model of management and organizations, with its emphasis on linear processes and control. Social media encourages horizontal collaboration and unscripted conversations that travel in random paths across management hierarchies. It thereby short-circuits established power dynamics and traditional lines of communication.
 Translated from consultant-ese, here's what the article recommends:

1. Create content that is compelling, not (necessarily) perfect. The authors use the 'auteur' theory of filmmaking as an example: the skills required are "an authentic voice, imagination, and the ability to craft compelling stories and to turn them into media products that make people take note." Turning out videos doesn't hurt.

2.  Using new distribution pathways mean that leaders can spark a discussion, then learn from it. In order to be effective, the leader needs to work on developing a group interested enough to make the message go viral, and then remember to synthesize what the group is saying about an issue.

3. Filter out what's unimportant. Just make sure that you look at social media streams as well as more traditional ones, like email.

4. Take the lead in using social media. All your direct reports need to become media literate. Encourage experiments and allow for mistakes.

5. Create the necessary infrastructure.  Create some kind of social media space: a wiki, an internal blog, a video channel. If possible, include consumers in the discussion.

6. Stay on top of emerging trends.

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