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Understanding the importance of social Media

Written By: langdon on November 26, 2011 No Comment

Understanding the importance of social Media

In the last 24 hours, over 900,000 new blog posts were written – a majority of them about product or service information, idle chatter, or personal experiences with companies and their employees. In fact, by the time you finish this paragraph, two new blog sites will be created. Blogs (short for web-log) are just one part of the 21st century’s online conversation. This conversation includes an array of networking tools, blogs, bookmarking sites, and other social media resources.

It is part of what’s known as “Web 2.0,” a term that describes new ways people learn and interactively share information through the Internet. These online conversations are fast, expansive, and crucial to be a part of, and if you are like most compliance professionals, you are neither aware nor involved enough.

Compliance professionals need to recognize the importance of social media, learn how employees are involved in the Web 2.0 world, and become authorities in using social media to shape the conversation and live in a new world of communication

Understanding the importance of social media: Every survey and best-practice guideline emphasizes effective communication as central to a successful compliance program. If you are part of a company with a young workforce, you already know that a lot of communication takes place through Web 2.0 resources – and in order to be part of the communication, a successful compliance program has to get involved.

This is especially true in light of the major demographic shift ahead. A large percentage of the Baby Boomers will be eligible for retirement in the next five years, and many will be replaced by some of the 75 million Generation Y “Millennials.”

For many Millennials (people born between 1979 and 1995), technologies like computers and cell phones have been a normal part of growing up. Social media is second nature to this group, and just as the Boomers transformed society, so will the Millennials.

As a result, many companies have started testing the social media waters. Social networking sites similar to FaceBook and LinkedIn, video sharing sites resembling YouTube, and company knowledge resources modeled after Wikipedia are starting to appear within companies, allowing their employees to easily share information. Many of these contain interesting ideas that are useful to compliance professionals.

If these ideas have piqued your interest,  start by establishing a presence on a networking site like LinkedIn. Try joining Technorati to get a better sense for what professionals are writing about your company in blogs. Sign up for Google Alerts so you receive e-mail summaries of blog and web updates on any topic. Yahoo! Answers is an Internet reference site where users can ask and answer questions, and the micro-blogging site Twitter can help you connect with other professionals who are experimenting with social media. Armed with a better perspective, you can join the social media conversation.

Look before you leap. You need a strategy before beginning your own social media experiments. Find out how your employees are engaged online. Conduct a survey, or frankly, just ask around, to find out how your employees are communicating in the Web 2.0 world. Their conversations could potentially concern ethics and compliance topics. Once you understand where the conversation is happening, you can get creative about helping make sure employees are finding the right compliance knowledge when they need it.

 When you join the social media conversation, you cannot assume your message will be heard simply because of your role in the organization – it is the value of your content that is more important. Employees are increasingly suspicious of company authorities, and the recent Edelman Trust Barometer confirms that people trust their peers more than traditional authorities. Because social media revolves around peer-to-peer conversation, to get your message across, you must listen, communicate as a peer, and be an authority in fact, not just in title.

Some leading organizations such as Deloitte are embracing social media. For example Deloitte has created an internal social networking site, D Street, where all 46,000 employees can share information about themselves, keep up to date with other employees, or search for people based on keywords or interests. Through this online networking resource, Deloitte is trying to make a big company small; to gain more communication, closeness, and comfort in who employees are.

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