This week’s business trip to China put the whole ‘value of social media’ debate into perspective for me on a personal level…
In a country that has no access to Facebook or Twitter, I was surprised to realise that I was in fact, embarking on 36 hours of ‘forced social media cold turkey’!
As a solo traveller, I took the time to explore Shanghai as a tourist, I walked the length of the Bund, took an underground tunnel under the Huangpu River and worked my way through a dinner menu written in symbols rather than letters.
The shame of all of this for me, was not that I was travelling alone, but that I couldn’t share it with anyone… virtually or otherwise.
When I reflect on what it is that made me feel isolated, it’s that I don’t feel ‘in touch’ with those that I care about, both personally and at work. Sharing my adventures with the rest of the team who usually can be found spurring me on and encourage success via Facebook or Twitter is something I have gotten used to.
Not having it feels strange and somewhat alien to me. Knowing that someone has read my facebook post or tweet means I’m still ‘on the radar’… if I’m not doing that, how will they know I’m still here?!
I realise that the benefit of social media is as much about sharing as it is about helping me feel part of something bigger, feeling connected to colleagues and friends across the globe… essentially, it helps keep me engaged.
It occurs to me there’s a key message here for us when considering the rules around social media at work. It’s worth considering how your people are using it and whether it could actually help keep your teams engaged, and connecting them to their teams, your business and the whole organisational purpose.