Blogs, wiki, instant messaging, CoPs, bulletin boards, email forums and more… These are all Social Media. When an organisation uses these as internal tools, then they can be called SMIF – Social Media Inside the Firewall.
This is a term coined by Andrew Mitchell, one of my colleagues on the Melbourne Knowledge Management Leadership Forum. SMIF includes anything that we do to help people inside an organisation interact with one another – particularly using some of the newer technologies, but it can include any form of social interaction. It could be simply meeting over a coffee.
One KMLF meeting last year was a panel discussion of SMIF. There were some interesting ideas and experiences shared.
In one organisation, an executive complained: “blogs are useless drivel”. But, as one of our panellists pointed out, you might as well say something like “paper is useless”. All the tools we use to support social interaction are just that – tools. How we use them, and what benefit we get from them, is totally up to the people that use them.
We use some of these in Telstra – and we are currently investigating further use. The document library that my team operates, called the iStore, includes a feedback option on every document. We encourage our sales staff to interact directly with the product managers and marketers that write our documents.
Distance can be an impediment to good social interaction. When a team works in a single office, you can always tell when somebody is there, and you will be more likely to talk than to send an email. When people work remotely, you may not know whether they are readily available. One of my team works in our Sydney office. We use an instant messenger as part of our communication. We can exchange the simple “good morning” when we get into the office that we would otherwise miss, or do a quick check to see who is on-line and thus likely to be available to talk to over the phone.
So, do you SMIF?