Avoiding Duplication with Social Media

I read a wonderful article in the June 2009 issue of the Ragan Report detailing some lessons learned from Southwest Airlines. Their Emerging Media group decided that they should have some loose guidelines for when to use which social media.

They decided for their business, they would use blogs for exploring deeper issues; Twitter for what they call “teasing” the news; and Facebook for spotlighting promotional events.

I think this strategy is smart. The purpose of social media tools are to make what used to be formal, informal. However,  social media, folksonomies and crowd-sourcing need some level of governance and guidelines to help this garden of information grow in a healthy way and not get overwhelmed with weeds.

I keep wondering how many more social tools will be released? I’m sure many more are on the way but shouldn’t those tools replace the old tools? Newer tools just seem to add on to our existing list of tools. I found that I had to create a “When to Use Which Tool” quick reference guide to help people choose where to go to store their “stuff”.

Just as a handyman needs to know when to use a money wrench vs. a socket wrench, we are expecting our knowledge workers to know when a blog is better than a discussion forum or when a wiki is better over a SharePoint site.

I think this gives tremendous opportunity to KM professionals. We can become (and, in most cases, have become) the explorer, scientist and all-around virtual collaboration tour guide through this journey into what I hope will be a better integrated and simpler suite of collaboration tools.

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