Social Media

Social media is a collective term covering things like Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and much more. The range of software products is changing all the time.

There are lots of articles on the internet which will tell you everything you want to know about social media, and probably a lot more. It’s a way that I can communicate with a lot of people all at once over the internet, and, they can respond to me. The crucial part of it all is that it’s a two-way process.

Suppose I set up a Facebook page. My friends find it and link to it – they become my Facebook friends. Now if I fancy a night out, I can put a message on Facebook and almost instantly it’s there for all my internet friends to see, and they can respond directly to me. And I and they can do all this from our mobile phones. I can set up a group that is private to my friends and I, so the general public cannot see inside.

Much, much easier than phoning around all my friends, much quicker, and much cheaper too.

How does this help you as a project manager?

It’s easy to set up a page for a project. People who are interested in the project can “like” the page and then they’ll get to see any updates made to it. You can use the page to post project updates, you can use it to schedule meetings and invite people to them. And because of the two-way aspect to Facebook, people can comment on the content.

Should you be working on a project that spans time-zones, or maybe you just keep very strange hours, you can update the page at any time of the day and people will read it at a time convenient to themselves.

Similarly, you can set up a Twitter account for your project, and broadcast small messages (less than 140 characters) to anyone who’s following it. This is a really great way of getting information to lots of people very quickly. I’ve seen lots of charities tweeting (that’s putting a post on Twitter) to say they have “one place left for this weekend’s fun run. Raise ¬£500 to join us – any takers?” and they’ll fill that place quickly. Twitter’s big feature is that people can re-tweet, that is, forward your tweet on to their followers, and before you know it your message is reaching thousands of people.

There’s enough on this subject to fill quite a few books. I’m not even going to try to cover it here.

My advice?

  1. Find a teenager and ask them how it works
  2. Find someone to translate what you’ve just been told
  3. Tell a teenager what you want and get them to do it for you
  4. Find a good social media person that you trust and ask them to help you set yourself up and help you start to use it.
  5. Get a book* and try it out but NOT on the real account.  Make something up to play with.
  6. Look at other organisations and see how they use social media.
  7. Once you’re confident in your technical abilities, then put a plan together.
  8. Only then go live.
  9. Start small, don’t expect miracles on day one, and keep at it.
*the Dummies range of books is really good on all this kind of thing.