On Sunday afternoon, the air conditioning at my house stopped working. While I was watching the temperature inside my living room rise to 87 degrees, my husband was hard at work on Facebook identifying the quickest and most trustworthy repair person. By 9 am on Monday morning, the unit was repaired and fully operational.
What would we have done before social networking? We probably would have made a few phone calls to friends in the home building and repair business to see who they recommended, and then waited until Monday when those businesses opened to schedule an appointment sometime this week. In the meantime, we would have sweated. (New Orleans is not known for mild weather in July)
The instant access that social media enables has become a fundamental part of the way we live our personal lives, from making purchasing decisions to coordinating homework assignments for the kids. And yet, adoption in the business world is still spotty at best, often limited to push advertising.
What's the hold-up I wonder? Is it that we don't know our co-workers, customers, etc. well enough to interact in the same way? I check my personal Facebook daily, but not because I need anything, just to see what's going on in my network. I think it's different in a business setting, where you're on task all day and the only reason you'd go to a company site (social, intranet, Internet, whatever) is to get something specific to the task at hand.
A great place to start on the road to social media adoption might be group emails. I can't tell you the number of times I sort my inbox by "subject" and select a ton of iterations of a conversation and drop it in a folder. Later, when I need to be reminded of what was said, I have to identify search terms and plough through years of unrelated emails to find what I'm looking for. Not the most efficient use of my time.
What I'd like to see is fewer group emails and more interaction on social media platforms. That way, the information shared by the interested parties is persistently available to everyone and not hidden in some difficult to find folder on a hard drive, or lost altogether. We have the technology; it's just a matter of changing behavior.
Perhaps if the benefits are obvious (like the sweet, cool air now blowing on me as I type), we will gain further adoption. In the meantime, I have to go clean out my inbox.