Grumble, Bumble, Facebook Trouble
This is my site Written by Alora on June 3, 2010 – 10:53 am

I was reading the results of a social media study on Entrepreneur.com, and it actually made me a little snarky. In Health Insurance, a 401(k) and…Facebook?, author Justin Petruccelli discusses a new Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey in which 58% of teenage respondents stated that the ability to use social networks would be a factor in their decision-making process when it came to employers.

Since Justin and I are the same age (mid-30’s), it’s probably easy to assume that my source of pissiness was the same as his: Get over yourself, you big babies.

In point of fact, though, my source of pissiness is him being pissy about these survey results. Because, while I may have nearly two decades on the participants of that survey, add me into the group for whom that would make a difference. And while my reasons may not look the same on the surface, I’d venture to say that they probably aren’t as far off as some of my old fart peers might assume.

During my entire career, I have only spend three and a half months working at a company that was neither a startup nor a tech company. You know why I only lasted 3.5 months? Because the 30 year old company had a 30 year old culture that hadn’t seen any modern influences since the Nixon era.

What became crystal clear to me in that environment — an environment, by the way, when even during the NYC public transportation strike, when some of us had absolutely no means of getting to the office at all (depending on where you lived) vehemently prohibited anything as ‘lax’ as working from home — is that the technologies and business practices a company adopts speak to who and what they are as a business. Culture informs everything; and you learn a lot about a company by its rules and policies.

Here is what it says to me about a culture, if a business blocks access to social networks:

  • You don’t trust your employees. If you have employees who are abusing the problem, then grow a set, fire them and leave the rest to do their job in the way that makes most sense for them.
  • You are not allowing your employees access to valuable tools for business. Whether it’s current events, industry news or general networking with peers in other companies, Twitter is the single most powerful tool I have in my daily arsenal. Facebook is a close second. I get complex questions answered faster, find out industry-specific news more quickly, and generally manage to navigate my knowledge worker day far more effectively with Twitter than I ever did without. If an employer didn’t let me have access to it, I wouldn’t work for that employer.
  • You are sticking your head in the sand and may as well paint a great big target on your ass. If you are restricting access to social media, then you are deliberately choosing to ignore changing trends in the marketplace around you. As an employee, any employer who deliberately did that would be someone I would think twice about working for, because I would read that as an indication of their attitude toward change and innovation in general — which has huge cultural implications for where and how I spend my day each and every week.
  • You are being capricious. Blogs are as much social media as Facebook is. Are you going to block access to those, too? If so, that would include most major news outlets (after all, NYT is on WordPress), and source of current events. And what about Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Yelp, YouTube, Flickr, Trippit or LinkedIn? They are all social networks. You going to block them, too?
  • You are misallocating resources. Does your IT team really have nothing better to do with their time than to lock down the firewall to prevent me from getting to Twitter or Facebook? IT talent is expensive (I know: I’ve spent a well-paid career in that space), if you can’t think of something better for them to do than that, they you are not the type of company I want to work for.
  • You are missing the point. Facebook (and text messaging) is how that age group communicates. Cutting them off from that would be like cutting me off from email and expecting me to be as fast, as accurate or as deft at navigating my day. Just because you and I have different preferred methods of communication does not make yours more valid than mine.
  • You are setting a bad precedent. If you are summarily blocking social media, what other innovations can I expect that you will dismiss as having no value, despite the fact that your staff could find them profoundly impactful?
  • You are fighting an unwinnable battle… which just makes you look lame. Business 101: Pick Your Battles.  The more time goes by, the more of your employees will have the same ability to ‘waste time’ via their smart phone as they do via a web browser. Are you going to confiscate their phones when they come to work, too?

So yes, if I was exploring working for someone, one of the things I’d want to understand was their social media policy. Absolutely. Just like having the ability to work from home when necessary, I consider that essential for my ability to be able to do my job well.

For those of us old enough to remember the internet before the web, I recognize that what is transformative about social networking is that it has made things that used to be hard much, much easier. I, for one, am not going to volunteer to hop in a time capsule and go back to making things harder again. Not if I can help it.

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    ” You don’t trust your employees ” I love this section in your article :)

    it`s have meaning for me :)

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/seo-complete-guide-for-wordpress SEO wordpress

    ” You don’t trust your employees ” I love this section in your article :)

    it`s have meaning for me :)

    thanks

  • http://www.squidoo.com/seo-complete-guide-for-wordpress SEO wordpress

    ” You don’t trust your employees ” I love this section in your article :)

    it`s have meaning for me :)

    thanks