In or out?
You might have heard the following statement before “either you are online and in the conversation or you are not in the conversation at all”. There is some truth in the statement but it’s not black nor white either. If you want to be in the conversation you will need to find ways to be online when it matters. That doesn’t mean that you need to be online the whole time. In my opinion you can be in without scarifying too much time which you would normally spend in a different way. After all being active on Social Media should be a positive thing and should not affect the quality of your work in a bad way.
Too much is never good
Don’t get me wrong I do believe being active on social media is a positive thing but too much is never good. Yes I know it is hard not to check your mail or your twitter account when you hear ‘plong’ but as with anything, too much is never good. The only way to unlearn bad habits is by creating new habits. I bet some of the readers of this blog check their car again after parking it and closing it. It’s an instinct to check it again to be sure although you know you closed it. The only way to unlearn it is to never check after closing it but that is not so easy, trust me, I know. After all you might forget to close it sometimes.
As many other community members I have children and mine are still very young. Colin is one years old and Caitlin is two and a half years old. Since I decided I wanted to be a father on a young age (at least nowadays) I also knew that it would have its consequences. One of those consequences is that I cannot be online the whole time since I’m watching my kids (from 5pm till they have to go to sleep). As an effect I decided to seek ways to create value using Social Media without having to spend too much time on it. Family time is also important and is part of a healthy work / life balance.
A big help to be online often enough to get into the conversation is my iPad. I waited for a long time before getting one as I was not convinced about its added value and features. I can only say now that I should have bought one sooner. It is very useful and effective to see what’s going on in a matter of seconds anywhere, anytime.
Due to its ease of use and great interface the iPad is a marvelous device to help me in my quest to be in on SAP and Social Media. It’s really easy to take a picture or capture a video and share it with your online network when attending events. It is also useful for taking notes during presentations and events.
While you can get value out of Social Media in terms of gaining knowledge, connecting and collaborating with great people there is also a lot of clutter, also referred to as “noise” on Social Media. In the end it comes down to extracting the interesting content in order to create value.
For me one of the best ways to track interesting content are RSS feeds. Some months ago I saw a youtube video by Jon Reed explaining how you can use Google Reader and I decided to give it a go. RSS feeds are not death and they can be really useful. Personally I use Google reader as central repository where my RSS feeds come in and I use Pulse on iPad to display and read the feeds I have on Google Reader which is a really nice combination. I can also suggest you to check out the other videos Jon has available on his YouTube channel with more tips on Social Media use for SAP. After watching his videos you should be able to use Google Reader and integrate Twitter searches in the RSS feeds which are really useful.
When I have sufficient time I check my twitter feed channel but on Pulse I will check to see what I missed on the topics that interest me the most while I was not online.
Measuring added value
One of the questions I have seen around Social Media is how do you measure value? You can be online and you can state Social Media is great but how do you measure that you actually do better by using Social Media?
I started using Social Media as a SAP professional in December 2010 which is not too long ago. By doing so I leveraged the information and knowledge I gained from being active on SCN, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to connect, collaborate, share knowledge and help guide my customers. My customers fill in reviews each year of each consultant based on their years of experience, work experience etc and I can state my review score was top notch.
Does this mean Social Media creates instant value? No it does not. Finding the right information is becoming more and more important. The key is finding the right information, gaining knowledge and doing something with all of that. That is what creates added value in the end. You can say my measurement is customer satisfaction of my work and guidance for now. I will continue to use it as a measurement until I have better tools or find new ways to measure the added value.
Benefits of being active on Social Media
Insight and knowledge
Social Media works to get insight into a brand or a company and gather knowledge. Gathering knowledge and insight is a benefit for sure. How much you do with it is a choice of course. I prefer sharing knowledge and insight to challenge myself and others. By doing so I learn important lessons, sometimes my point of view is just wrong and it is really refreshing that other persons provide feedback and give their honest opinion on my writings and thoughts.
Connecting and collaborating
Connecting and collaborating with other persons is also a great benefit.
I love to hear or read about other persons’ opinions and thoughts and collaborate with them to create something beyond what is achievable as a single individual. That’s one of the great things about collaborating, the fact that you can achieve something you couldn’t have achieved on your own. Perhaps literally, perhaps because of a given deadline, no matter which reason it has, it is awesome to see the result of collaboration.
Being active on Social Media also provides self marketing. Even if you never state anything about products you make or services you deliver being active on Social Media can contribute to your market value. Of course it can also have the opposite effect which has been very visible for some companies who have had to endure Social Media campaigns against their brand or product.
Sometimes it takes balls to state your opinion or tweet a CEO with a comment. A number of years ago it would not all have been acceptable and there still are persons who don’t get it and prefer to stay far away from Social Media. The new generation is having less problems with this.