“It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.” – Moliere

Opportunity cost is a powerful concept. Finance 101 teaches us that inaction is the riskiest move of all. If you hide your money in a mattress, you remove yourself from the game, abandoning all hope of future return. Even worse, what happens if the mattress accidentally goes up in flames? Game over.

In business, as in life, every decision involves some risk. Each time an organization chooses to pursue Path X, it sacrifices the potential upside of Path Y or Z. But credible information can reduce that risk, and strong leaders look for reliable signals to guide their choices.

When deciding how social media fits into the workplace, leaders would be wise to watch and listen for signals from employees. These days the noise is deafening. New methods of organizational collaboration and communication are proliferating — not just through authorized corporate initiatives, but through ad-hoc efforts of workgroups and individuals who are pushing the social envelope just because they want to work smarter.

This isn’t heretical. It’s progress. It’s a by-product of human culture that’s as old as fire and as enduring as the wheel — and it was the upshot of yesterday’s #TChat World of Work exchange, as @Hootsuite HR Director Ambrosia Humphrey (@hambrody) and her team moderated a spirited discussion about social media’s role in work life.

The Big RT

Among hundreds of comments, which one registered highest on the retweet scale?

“Telling today’s employees not to use social media is like telling employees several years ago not to use the phone.” @MattMonge

In other words, business leaders, the social ship has left the harbor. Many of your employees eagerly climbed onboard, and it’s not too late to steer that vessel toward a desirable destination.

But which way to go next? We feel the pain of that question even here at TalentCulture.com, as we choose social platforms and tools that will best serve our mission, going forward. Recently, we’ve been exploring dozens of solutions to enhance workflow and internal communication, as well as tools to engage the TalentCulture community. Our conclusion? Even for a fearless crew of passionate social media advocates, the options can be overwhelming.

Sure, there’s a price for progress. The process can be messy. But even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward. And if our #TChat comrades have anything to say about it, environments where social connections are enhanced promise far more benefits than the status quo.

Bottom Line

The only rationale for standing in the way of social workplace progress is fear. But in this brave new socially-driven world of work, fear might as well be money in a mattress.

Did you miss this week’s preview? Look here — and look below for a swanky slideshow of yesterday’s many tasty tweets. We again thank our new best friends over at Hootsuite, who guest moderated #TChat World of Work with characteristic Twitter savvy: Joining Ambrosia were Ben Watson (@bitpakkit), Hootsuite’s vice president of marketing; Steve Johnson (@steve1johnson), Hootsuite’s chief revenue officer; and additional members of Hootsuite’s HR team, Sabrina Lavin and Kristine Naldoza.

[javascript src=”//storify.com/socialmediasean/tchat-insights-one-trillion-dollars-of-social-med.js?template=slideshow”]

#TChat INSIGHTS: One Trillion Dollars of Social Media Tweets

Storified by Sean Charles · Wed, Sep 19 2012 21:23:51

Guess Hoo’s Coming to #TChat Tonight Wed 7pm/EST? Bam, it’s Team @hootsuite Join US! http://pic.twitter.com/cOAIPB9CSean Charles
Five minutes to #TChat. Just wanted to say hi to everyone! Online now…ambrosia
Hello! Supporting our owls and looking forward to this chat. RT @steve1johnson: Awesome joining the great folks at #tchat tonight!Kristine Naldoza
Me and Adrian droppin’ into #TChat from the @WorkSimple office in #SF! http://pic.twitter.com/R1XUp5BkJocelyn Aucoin
@FaronicsHR @FrankZupan @KevinWGrossman @DaveTheHRCzar @ybalanced @PRGWest @RichardSPearson arrr #TChat http://twitpic.com/aweka2Sylvia Dahlby
Coffee is on and in the office ready to #TChat http://pic.twitter.com/a5TkAFK8Jen Olney
#Tchat Live from the Czar’s basement/mancave http://twitpic.com/awebm7Dave Ryan, SPHR
Going to get started Q.1 Social tech is valued upwards of $1.3 trillion. Where’s the greatest biz opportunity in the next few years? #TChatambrosia
Q1 Learning culture requires participation from top level management to workers at every level. Can’t just roll out without buyin. #TChatJudy Martin
A1 Knowledge / data sharing. Consolidation of services in the “cloud”. #TchatRedge
a1 social media is an invitation to co-create meaning & build engagement – both customers with a brand & employees with organisation #tchatrobbie semple
@hambrody A1: Increased innovation from workers who use & *get* #socialmedia. #tchatTara Eames
A1 Online “Techspertise” consulting & marketing / selling via brand content management. #TchatRedge
A1 #Privacy by design vs. an ad hoc / “make it up as you go” approach will become increasingly important in social tech. #TchatJoe Sanchez
A1 Device won’t matter… function for all #tchatsteve johnson
A1: Knowledge sharing across levels, functions and geographies #tchatLaTonya Wilkins
A1: Improved communications and collaboration within and across enterprises #TChatSean Charles
A1 Certainly another opportunity is in the realm of recruitment in terms of changing the way we interact and engage potential ee’s #TChatJanine Truitt
A1: Integration all of the social media, communication to include business side. #TChatRobert Rojo
A1: Smarter utilization of data. #tchatRob McGahen
A1. Mobile Apps Cloud Storage & Predictive Software #FutureGrowth #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A1 Greatest biz opportunity for social? Company engagement for all externally facing employees #tchatsteve johnson
#TChat – A1: Keep your current employees more engaged, as the economy improves, more opps, so spend money to retain talent, not replace!Michael!
A1: It’s gotta be in converging all aspects of the business enterprise under a common SM brand. #tchatMark Salke
A1) Integration. Social shouldn’t require unique, stand-alone apps, must integrate into work tools. #tchatJD Dillon
a1. Social business can save and transform our planet. #tchatMichael Clark
A1 The greatest biz opportunity is for big data aggregation tools & Mobile – m-o-b-i-l-e #TchatLeAnna J. Carey
A1: The greatest opportunity in the next few years involves combining the automation of systems with the personalization of social. #TChatTalent Generation
A1. Gotta go with marketing and advertising as the BIGGEST (but not only) #tchatChris Fields
A1. Internal collaboration, info-sharing as a knowledge management tool, get knowledge in people’s heads out into the org #TChatJane Watson
Moving forward Q2. Currently only 5% of U.S. online content sharing happens on social media. Will this change? #TChatambrosia
A2: People may be afraid of negative consequences if they share something that goes against their work ethics. #TChatAuchoybur Ferane_HR
A2: Like the larger economy, what happens depends on us–*right now* we are creating the future w/our choices. #DecideThenDO #TchatNancy Barry-Jansson
A2 – push marketing to users will explode as GPS proximity to events/products /targets is fine tuned #tchatRichard S Pearson
Q2) Agree with others that it HAS to. As more companies adapt and grow it will increase. #TChatAmber Britton
Q2 Where did that stat come from? 5% #notbuyingit #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A2: If you’re sharing online content, aren’t you, by definition, socializing media? #TChatMatt Charney
A2: Yes, as long as it is easy to create content and share it with social. Path of least resistance wins. #TChat #tchatFaronics HR
A2: if companies want to stay relevant and current, and be where the ppl are..it has to! #tchatPlatinum Resource
A2: To succeed it has to change, we’re creatures of habit, change comes slow, #TChatRobert Rojo
A2: Social sharing habits will change depending on the behavior of how people want to interact with platforms #tchatJen Olney
#TChat A2 – Some orgs are still using #SocialMedia like web 1.0, one sided engagement. NOT the way to use it, that is NOT social.Michael!
a2. Haven’t we always wanted everything to be more transparent? #tchatMichael Clark
Q.3 How do leaders overcome perception that employees “waste” their time on social media? Definitely not #hootsuite office concern;) #TChatambrosia
A.3 Being on social is a vital part of our recruitment strategy. It is definitely not time wasted for us! #TChatHootSuite HR
Haha touché > @bitpakkit: a3) Posting what you had for lunch isn’t bad if you work for the restaurant where you ate it. #tchatambrosia
A3: Orgs need to embrace the tool and even help employees learn how to use the power of social media. Stop trying to ban it. #tchatMatt Monge
#TChat A3 Leaders need to use it to engage with customers & focus their messages to share their vision/mission.Naomi Caietti
A3 Quite frankly I learn a lot more on social media than hanging around the water cooler. Gossip never taught me a thing. #justsayin #TChatJanine Truitt
A3. A good servant leader communicates well & has transparent relationships developing your people – TRUST Social as part of that #TChatKeith C Rogers
A3: Leaders need to find value in that ‘waste.’ Turn the perceived weakness into a strength. #tchatRob McGahen
A3. Recognize employees as a sample population. Value Social Media brings to employee’s lives mirror the customer’s. #TChatThinkCEO
A3 Trust . Employees aren’t mindless, they are an asset. Of you don’t trust them they won’t trust you. Employees will surprise you #tchatArron Daniels
A3. employees won’t be wasting their time if they learn how to use it effectively. @wilsonhcg showed me how to find candidates 🙂 #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A3: Most leaders know the ROI of social, but do they know the value of it? #tchatRandy Thio
A3. Recognize employees as a sample population. Value Social Media brings to employee’s lives mirror the customer’s. #TChatThinkCEO
a3) Posting what you had for lunch isn’t bad if you work for the restaurant where you ate it. #tchatBen Watson
A3 If employees are being unproductive it’s usually an engagement and performance issues not a social media issue #TChatPam Ross
A3: Find examples of productive/effective/relevant enterprise social use w/in the org & showcase it. Nurture it. Reward it. Model it. #tchatExpertus
A3: Devil’s advocate alert -> Aren’t plenty of employees indeed wasting their time on social media? #TChat #tchatBrent Skinner
A3: Allowing employees a quick SM break every now and then can promote a more relaxed atmosphere at work and increase productivity #TChatSpark Hire
A3. I show my boss that I spend time on so me connecting with stds, promoting career svcs & share relevant blogs, articles with staff #tchatGuy Davis
Great discussion here. Q.4 Will social media only be valued by extroverted sharing & collaborative people? Is it an ego thing? #TChatambrosia
Spot on! @steve1johnson: A4 Social media’s value is substantial b/c it ISN’T about being extroverted. It’s about content, empathy… #tchatVicky Truong
A.4 Room for everyone. Various platforms have their spheres in #recruitment too: Twitter = public, FB = private, Linkedin = professional….ambrosia
A4: in many ways yes, but #bizsocial is more accepted than typical #socialmedia and gets everyone involved if it is a biz necessity #tchatJohn T. Lawrence
AWESOME! community, working together, feels good to be helpful @gingerconsult A4: it’s WE not ME #tchatLori~TranslationLady
A4. Social media gives individuals access to real-time info on any topic/event. Extroverted or not, you can’t deny the value in that! #tchatLaura Crawford
A4 No—asynchr. nature of #sm offers chance to compose thought—appeals to introverts. Increasing # of convos or ego isn’t only value! #tchatShawna Kelly
#TChat A4: Recognize and adapt to the cultural norm of social media or become dinosaurs sticking to legal compliance and a static brand.Avi Lambert
A4: Social media is about conversation, collaboration and filling diverse gaps that normally would be left open due to lack of info. #tchatBeverly Davis
A4 – Social media is like other communication tools, people will use it when they need it. #tchatMichael VanDervort
A4. With social media compliance becoming increasingly important in regulated industries it ll be valued by people w/ diverse natures #tchatsandrachung
Extroverts adopt early, but: @MeghanMBiro: A4: I’ve seen many INTROVERTS do very well w/ #socialmedia – It’s not a necessary skill. #TChatKeith C Rogers
@talemetry re: A4 Everyone participating on #socialmedia is collaborative; gives introverts an equal voice, too. #TChat > Smart perspective!Ian Gertler
a4 social media no different to a meeting. introverts can add value too just need to have an easy method… like buttons? re-tweet? #tchatrobbie semple
Big final Question: Q.5 What are the best social tech tools for recruiting, onboarding, learning, performance, retention & mobility? #TChatambrosia
A5) When selecting tech, my first question: “is it mobile?” If I can’t share from my phone in a movie theater, I’m not buying. #tchatJD Dillon
a.5 we launched this entire cultural initiative through our social platforms Twitter and 7Geese! http://ow.ly/dQuzY #TChatambrosia
#TChat a5. @Evernote @Rypple @jobs2webMichael Danubio
A5. ESNs like Tibbr or Yammer or MoxieSoft… #TChatBill Cushard
A5) Twitter is my muse. I spend a lot of time in @confluence for content curation, sharing, and learning. #tchatJD Dillon
A5 Twitter &LinkedIn are gret tech tools for HR to connect, as well as provide insight. #TChatAmy Do
A5: Another GREAT tool for workspace management is @Podio. It beats Basecamp any day of the week! #TchatGwen Woltz
A5 LinkedIn is good for recruiting / learning. Blogs are great for learning / engagement. Twitter an avenue for all of the above. #TChatRedge
A5. The best social tool for reruiting is YOU! #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
a.5 Twitter (@hoothr) has been a huge game changer in not only recruitment but also our onboarding, and cultural initiatives! #HR #TChatambrosia
Hurrah @hoothr RT @hambrody a.5 we launched entire cultural initiative thru social platforms Twitter and 7Geese! http://ow.ly/dQuzY #TChatDaveO from HootSuite
Thanks #Tchat and @talentculture @meghanmbiro for having @HootSuite on today. We’ll post a storify tomorrow. We had a brain blast! #wowambrosia

What’s Next on the #TChat Radar?

Be sure to join us next week (Wednesday 9/26, 7pmET/4pmPT) as we explore the dynamics of generational differences in the workplace — especially when older workers report to younger managers. (Read the preview post.)

Image Credit : Riesgo frente a recompensa, by Daniel Lobo

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