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Barriers to embracing the “social” in social media

Conversation For me, the term social media automatically makes me thing of being social with other folks, by way of a various tools, technologies, and even in person – talking openly, but politely, about what’s on your mind – what you like, what you’re not so fond of, and just generally sharing information, tips, tricks, best practices and helpful tools with friends and all those wonderful folks you’ve built into the great network you now have across all those tools…it means joining in the conversation!

Social media, for me, has been an amazing way for me to connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise necessarily had an opportunity to meet. I’ve met amazing Distinguished Engineers, like Steve Todd, insightful TC’s like Dave Graham, Windows guru (and Rush fan!) Brian Henderson, and one of the many folks at EMC who are passionate about SM, Stu Miniman. I even met wonderful people across the pond – Storagezilla makes us proud! Not to mention, another web junkie like myself, Len Devanna.

And in case you were thinking this is just an EMC love fest, well, it’s not. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Chris Brogan (you’ve been under a rock if you haven’t heard of Chris!) and Sean O’Driscoll, chatting with Jeremiah Owyang virtually, and rubbing elbows with the likes of Dave Alston, Peter Kim (please check out the panel Peter’s hosting at E2.0 in Boston and say hi!) and Robert Collins.

It’s been a wonderful, amazing and truly interesting experience! And, it all comes together in the realm of social media. Yes, social media. Without social media and the power that all these tools possess, I wouldn’t have met all these wonderful folks, let alone had the opportunity to stay connected with them in real-time fashion.

One of the things you may have experienced in your adventures is that while this open, transparent, and sometimes seemingly TMI flow of social interaction that occurs on any one of the many tools out there is natural for some of us, for many folks out there, it’s not.

We’ve always debated the topic of open vs. closed communities on EMC|ONE, and many of us have talked about our approach – where ever it’s possible, we try to keep communities open, as we truly believe that it facilitates greater collaboration – think of the old adage “Two heads are better than one.  Or, to be less geeky – how about – great things happen when folks come together and share ideas. After all, that’s what community’s all about, right?

We’ve always been open to the idea that if there’s truly a business need for private collaboration, then let’s talk about it…let’s make sure that 1 – you’re in the right place, using the right tool, and 2 – we can help each other learn what types of scenarios call for private collaboration.

The reality is that in the great majority of cases, there has not been a pressing need for a private collaboration community on EMC|ONE. Rather, we’re seeing the same tendencies re-emerge in cycles as new users join the community. So what are some of the reasons folks are opting in to "private" collaboration?

  1. Fear of making a mistake publicly – What if I say something stupid?
  2. My (insert role or title here) does not think social media is “work” – If I participate, I’ll be viewed as “playing” so I won’t participate.
  3. Not realizing the full business capabilities of social media tools - How do I collaborate in a business fashion?
  4. Not understanding all the tools available - I don’t know how to use this stuff!
  5. Being overwhelmed by all the conversation and collaboration on the site – There’s way too much going on – where do I even begin?

The good news is that since there are patterns emerging, there is a way for us to identify and address these barriers by encouraging, educating and evangelizing the value of social media and enterprise community/collaboration. And now, the work begins!

What have you experienced as barriers to adoption of open collaboration in your communities? How have you addressed those barriers?