There are many project managers today who are aware of social media, but who don’t understand the benefits of using social media on projects, or how to use social media to enhance their professional careers.
Obviously there are also pitfalls, like security concerns and not knowing the tools available or what are considered best practices when integrating social media onto projects.
What is Social Media
Social media is part of WEB 2.0 where people use the Internet for interactive, social interaction on communication technologies. Social media is about an engagement with online communities and allowing user generated content. It is participatory, community based and interactive.
Why Social Media
Nowadays it is common for project team members to be distributed geographically while working on projects. This increase in virtual teams makes the communication process more challenging and it’s difficult to build strong relationships and high levels of trust. The use of social media channels to collaborate in real-time, can help strengthen relationships and build trust among team members.
Social tools are driving a faster flow of knowledge and information within and across organizations. Social media provides companies with the ability to quickly identify, organize and deploy teams, to collaborate across borders and between departments, and see a measurable organizational benefit.
Benefits of social media
Here are some of the benefits you can expect when using social media on projects. Social media is an extraordinary opportunity to improve team collaboration at all levels.
Social media will also allow for financial savings. The cost of traveling expenses and monthly telephone bills can be reduced by using a videoconference program to host a meeting.
In a field like project management that depends on lessons learned and best practices to deliver repeatable results, the pool of resources you can tap into via social media is very powerful.
It allows for real-time quick sharing and ad-hoc sharing of information. It provides PM’s the ability to provide real-time information to stakeholders from any location at any time.
Best practices for Social Media
Focus on building relationships. This is the best use of social media on projects. Make sure your team is in agreement with which social networking tools are to be used. You might want to document the following:
- how the team should use the tools,
- when the team should use the tools,
- what type of content should be contained, and not contained, in posts or updates.
Next you need take privacy and security into account when adopting social media into the workplace. You need processes and guidelines in place to ensure that social media is used responsibly and that care is taken when sharing information inside and outside of your team.
Social media is a culture that is created, supported and enabled by various technologies and applications that are constantly growing and changing. The true innovation is the cultural change that social media has bought about. People think, act, and communicate in a completely different way.
Social Media as Project Management tools
For most Project Management professionals social media is already part of their lives whether they use it intentionally or not. In order to adopt social media on your projects, you need to understand how to use the various tools available.
These days many project managers or project management companies have Facebook pages. On Facebook you can learn from experts about project management. You can create professional contacts to get questions answered or to jump to a suggested site.
Yammer is like Facebook’s equivalent, but in the corporate world, focused on the company. With Yammer, you can share announcements, create a team calendar of milestones, create pages for different interests, and upload documents.
Also consider posting your team norms, latest screenshots of the app for team members to comment on, and sharing video updates or team photos. Yammer allows for more in-depth updates and comments can also be grouped into a “thread” beneath each post.
Blogs are made up of posts, which are short articles that appear in reverse chronological order on the blog. In the project setting, it is the equivalent to a project notebook. There are a number of ways blogs can be used to enhance the success of a project.
- Project documentation – you can put all the project documentation on a blog.
- Major milestone announcements - blogs are a great way to keep your team informed of the major phases that are coming up, as well as to recognize the good work your team has accomplished as milestones are passed.
- Interesting pictures - keep blogs interesting by posting pictures of a product in various stages, or of people who are making a product.
Twitter is the most popular micro-blogging tool today. It allows you to send short messages to the internet, but limits the update to 140 characters and also permits your “tweets” to be protected. The tweets appear on your homepage in a long chronological stream, with the most recent comments at the top.
There are several ways to use Twitter to help you manage a project.
- Project management articles – use search to find good articles about specific project management topics and best practices.
- # Hashtags are used to help index the subject matter of your tweet. For example, the hashtag #pmot is used for tweets about “project management on Twitter”. When you click on the hashtag, you will immediately see a page full of the recent tweets that have used the same tag. This is a simple way that users can quickly filter for only tweets about specific subjects. You can also search for tweets by typing the hashtag in the Twitter search box. Other useful hashtags are: #projectmanager, #pmp, #project, #msproject and #pm. Also check #PMChat for Tweetups every Friday for an innovative way to get answers to project management questions and obtain different perspectives.
- Team hashtags – a project team can decide on its own hashtags for the projects they’re working on. If your team is working on a business application project, you could decide on a hashtag to use across Twitter, such as #busapp. This will work for projects where security is less of a concern.
- Lists - On the Home page of Twitter, your Twitter timeline can get cluttered very quickly. Use Twitter lists to group Twitter users. Make a list of other users who are also in Project Management. For example, create a list for project managers and every time you follow a person on Twitter who is also a project manager, you add them to your list. Soon you connect with project managers from all over the world who you can collaborate with. Or create a list for your team relating to the project you are working on. Send them the URL of the list so they can see who you’ve added.
As a social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn will help you find experts in project management. There are many project management related interest groups on LinkedIn which you may join. Add yourself to groups and communities that share common interests with you or your business. Then follow and contribute to the discussions. This way you can connect with as many project professionals as you like including experts who can answer questions and provide advice.
SlideShare is a social network site that contains PowerPoint presentations and other documents that users create and upload. Searching on “project management” will find thousands of presentations about project management.
A seminar hosted on the web. It is also used to describe other types of meetings where the participants go to a website to see the presentation material. Participants use their web browser to access a website for that meeting. Many webinars are hosted weekly covering useful project management topics and contributions from people in the profession.
Podcasts are audio files that can be delivered on-demand and regularly through a mechanism that allows people to subscribe to the latest episodes, like RSS. Numerous project management topics are discussed on podcasts that you can download and for existing PMP’s this can count towards PDU’s.
For the project manager, YouTube offers hundreds of videos on project management methodology. More people prefer video to text with certain types of information.
If you have distributed teams, set each group up with the means to create video updates. Not only will your status reports be more engaging, but putting faces to names creates a closer, more respectful team.
Most people have a Google profile and it’s very easy to join Google+. There are multiple interest groups to join discussions, watch webinars or even join Google hang-outs. If you or your company has an online presence, there is also value in having a Google+ account for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
The Wiki is likely the oldest platform and it’s a space in which users can add, modify and delete pages and content. One of the more compelling features of a wiki is that its structure and content is created and maintained by the users themselves as it grows and is being used.
Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that you can use to find ideas and share. Project managers or project management companies already use Pinterest to publish Infographics on various Project Management topics.
For a free Social Media strategy template for Project Managers, visit:
About the Author: Linky van der Merwe is the Founder of Virtual Project Consulting, provider of project management best practices and recommended resources to aspiring and existing project managers. With Project Management Social project managers are enabled to integrate social media onto projects. Visit PM SOCIAL for a Roadmap (training, guides, checklist, articles and template) today. Connect with her socially on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook.