Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives in South Africa. Recent studies have revealed that South African consumers have a very high motivation (70 percent versus, for example, 40 percent in the UK) to follow brands on social networks. We use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking services to converse with friends and colleagues and to share photos, videos, and important moments in our lives.
Worldwide, Facebook enjoys 80 million unique visitors per month, YouTube 800 million and Twitter 160 million, according to DoubleClick Ad Planner. In South Africa, users spend on average seven hours a week on social networking sites, with MXit and Facebook being the most popular sites.
Against the back-drop of these statistics Project Managers need to seriously consider the integration of social media with their project management tools. Let’s look at ways to do that and to evaluate if the use of social media tools can drive project success. Some aspects of security and confidentiality will also be covered.
In a previous article: “10 Ways to Integrate Social Media with Project Management” we referred to a number of different social media tools available to project managers which can be used for project delivery. Many social media tools are more widely adopted by project managers than we think.
Social Media adoption
Many social media tools like collaboration tools, instant messaging, podcasts, webinars and social networks are already used widely for project delivery.
Podcasts and webinars are especially used for further training of professional project managers, PMP’s, who gain professional development units (PDU’s) for attending. Project management training companies, like Roeder Consulting, hosts a webinar every month presenting project management topics, as well as inviting host speakers, with the audience being able to claim a PDU per session. Attendees are also invited to become members of their LinkedIn group. This has grown them a large following and keeps them front of mind for training needs.
Social media tools which may be considered more during project delivery are blogs (project information distribution to virtual teams), Wiki’s and RSS, to subscribe to feeds relevant to your project or to information that will help develop project managers who are reporting into a Project Support Office (PMO).
Security and Confidentiality
By nature social media implies collaboration, mutual trust, and a strong sense of common purpose. With social media your company and project needs a policy the same way as you need a policy for the use of email or the internet. Ensure that employees and team members know about the policy and follow an education program to ensure compliance with regulatory and legal guidelines.
Security concerns around the open flow of communication using social media tools can be addressed by using access controls to manage the flow of data. Give usernames and passwords to only those people who need to log in. Access control administration can be delegated to a PMO or a project support officer. Have a process for requesting access to the tool. For third parties requests, access may be limited by assigning permissions to certain “views” only. Some social media tools have an audit trail facility with which you can track changes.
Include social media tools in the company backup processes and business continuity plans. Another consideration around authorized software is to allow only social media tools that are supported by your IT department in order to not make you vulnerable to viruses and other security threats.
With proper consideration, project managers and their teams could adopt appropriate social media tools and by following the proper channels to put approved social media tools in place, this will enhance successful project delivery.
BIO: Linky vd Merwe is a certified project management professional (PMP) and Founder of Virtual Project Consulting. She has been a senior project manager at Microsoft Consulting Services South Africa for the past 4.5 years. She likes to blog about project management and integrated online communication marketing. Her mission is to provide project management best practices advice and to recommend resources to aspiring and existing project managers.