Social Media In the Workplace

Below are my notes for the talk I have given over the last week on social media in the workplace. I admit they do not flow as an essay as they supplemented my slides, hopefully you can derive my messages.

For nearly 20 years geeks have been operating in the backrooms of your organisations communicating across the Internet using tools such as Gopher, IRC, Usenet and HTTP. Then in 1994 Marc Andressen released Netscape Navigator into the world, since then it has never been the same.

Netscape allowed non technical people for the first time to graphically see not only documents on the Internet but also their relationships. This was the birth of the web as we know it today.

Everything on the web today has been built on these foundations. Including social media.
The first true social technology was the reply all button in email. As much as we often despise this feature for the first time it allowed people, through a single click of a button, to engage and collaborate with a large group of individuals. The first social gesture.

I have spent the last 2 and a half days at the Australasian Talent Conference where there was lots and lots of talk about social media and its impact on business, talent and the workplace. However most of the questions and comments tended to be we don’t understand it, it is a waste of time, we are ignoring it and where is the ROI. There is fear, uncertainty and misinformation amongst many of the leaders in business.

To help overcome these issues I will initially be spending time look at the foundations of social media before taking an trip in to using social media in the workplace.

Continue reading “Social Media In the Workplace”

Social Media Policy (Again)

Just a quick comment. I have been reading some of the feedback to Telstra’s Social Media Policy on other blogs and news sites. One comment that keeps coming is that Telstra is essentailly applying old school thinking to a new world policy.

Well of course they are.

When you create policies they need to match the culture of your organisation. Just because it is a social media policy does not automatically mean it needs to be all hip and new.

Telstra is a large old corporate with government roots, hence their culture is still like that. Should the culture of Telstra change, well yes and then the policies will be updated to reflect that. I do know that there are many inside Telstra who are working very hard to change the culture and this policy is just one step in that process.

Telstra’s social media policy

Yesterday Telstra was the first major Australian corporation to publicly release it’s social media policy. Called guardrails to help employees navigate the world of social media the policy is defined around three concepts, the 3 R’s; Representing, Responsibility, and Respect.

After the last few weeks I think both employees, management and stakeholders at Telstra will be pleased to have a few boundaries. However as Stephen Collins said where are the boundaries in the policy? That said it is good to see companies coming forward with policies allowing others to learn.

As a bit of a review, let me compare the Telstra policy to my recommended best practices:

5 key areas:

  1. Provide rights for the participants and define their equitable treatment – Yes
  2. Protect the interests of all stakeholders, external and internal -Yes
  3. Define roles and responsibilities for implementation and operation – Yes it is covered but I would like more information on how the implementation will take place. 
  4. Define integrity and ethical behaviours of participants – Yes
  5. Cover disclosure and transparency – Yes

5 main messages:

  1. Stop & Think – Implied but not explicit
  2. Use your loaf – Yes
  3. You can always disclaim, but you cannot hide – Yes
  4. Keep it real – Yes
  5. Respect the channels – Yes

So all in all a good first release.

It might also be good for Telstra to reference some of the relevant legislation:

  • Copyright Act, 1968 (Cth)
  • Spam Act, 2003 (Cth)
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, 1998

It should be noted that Telstra is in no way the first Australian entity to release their policies online, The Powerhouse Museum did so in April 2007!

Workplace policies for Social Media

There has been another little dust up over at Telstra, all due to a satirical Twitter account called Fake Stephen Conroy. (For international readers Stephen Conroy is the Federal Communications Minister.)

In summary Leslie Nassar Telstra employee had been running the account for a while providing hours of entertainment. A few days ago Leslie was outed (or he outed himself I am not sure) and this is when things got messy. It seems the left hand of Telstra did not know what the right hand was doing. The media got involved and things got messier.

But what I want to focus on is workplace policies for social media.

A few weeks ago Michael Park from Deacons law firm provided a fantastic overview at the HR Futures conference I have uploaded the presentation for all to view (with permission from Deacons and Michael of course).

Essentially you need to cover the 5 following areas:

  1. Provide rights for the participants and define their equitable treatment
  2. Protect the interests of all stakeholders, external and internal
  3. Define roles and responsibilities for implementation and operation
  4. Define integrity and ethical behaviours of participants
  5. Cover disclosure and transparency

With the 5 main messages for your policy depending on culture:

  1. Stop & Think
  2. Use your loaf
  3. You can always disclaim, but you cannot hide
  4. Keep it real
  5. Respect the channels

Want or need to learn more I have a half day workshop for organisations to help their HR departments come to terms with Web 2.0 and social media. Interested? Contact me for more details.

Microsoft Tag a not so new tool for marketing

Last week Microsoft launched a new service/tool/technology called Microsoft Tag. In simple terms it allows you to take a photo of an image with your internet-enabled phone and the related content is displayed on your phone. Very similar technology to the QR Code. But implemented very differently.

The QR Code stores all of the data in the image, for example the QR Code below actually stores the data of the URL for Inspecht. So when you take a photo of the image using your phone, the data is processed on the phone and then you are redirected to the Inspecht web site.

QR Code Inspecht

Microsoft’s tag service does not store the data in the image. Instead after taking a photo of the image the Microsoft Tag application on your phone communicates, via the Internet, with the Microsoft servers to figure out what to do next. The image is based on technology our of Microsoft Research called High Capcity Colour Barcode or HCCB for short. Microsoft has released reader applications for many different phones, head to to find out more.

Microsoft Tag Inspecht

Both provide very similar functionality.


  • Microsoft Tag allows you to create much smaller images than QR Codes
  • Microsoft Tag has significant in built error correction for partial or blurry images
  • Microsoft Tag is reportable a better user experience, personally I am not sure about that as I have found QR Codes very easy to use
  • Microsoft Tag makes it easy to get a reader application on your phone, I had to search to find a QR Code reader for my Treo
  • Microsoft Tags can be set to expire after a certain period, great for marketing
  • Based on my limited testing it seems you can change the data (URL, vCard etc) that the tag points to without needing to change the tag image
  • Microsoft Tag is support by the Microsoft marketing machine


  • Microsoft Tag requires full colour over QR Codes minimum requirement of black and white.
  • Microsoft Tag requires an Internet connection to work
  • Microsoft Tag requires Microsoft to store all of the data about the code and resulting data
  • Microsoft Tag is proprietary and after the beta period you will likely charged for using the service
  • QR Codes are very popular in Asia and have growing support in other locations, such as Australia

From a mobile recruiting point of view there is not a lot of difference. However the dynamic time driven content of the tag service makes the Microsoft offering a better choice for job ads or career fairs. For example here is a tag to a Seek job ad that will expire on 11th Feb 2009.

Seek Ad Tag

In Australia Telstra has been pushing QR Codes, under their own brand Telstra Mobile Codes marketed to only work on the Telstra Next G phone, which of course is not true as they are standard QR Codes. It will be interesting to see if Telstra drop the QR Code for Microsoft Tag.

Update: Anothy from Aussie startup QMCodes mentioned in the comments that the pro’s are all covered by their existing service Q-Lytics good to see a local company ahead of the big players.

Social media in big companies

A couple of months ago Telstra joined Twitter via their ISP Big Pond, I and others wrote harshly about how the implementation had been a failure. Since that time the Telstra team have been taking on board the feedback and have made significant changes to the way they engage with people online.  After initially trying to go alone they have engaged with some of the best minds on social media in Australia to change their approach. The changes have been so dramatic I am surprised and impressed.

The original engagement via Twitter was:

@bushgeek Got a BigPond® query?! Ask about BigPond® via this link 5ufhvf & a BigPond consultant will email you back.

Now this is a typical customer engagement via Twitter:

@jackmcintyre It’s a known issue being worked on,we suggest keep calling Tech to get it more attention to get it fixed quicker.

They are also having a bit of fun with people, yesterday was games day:

@BigPondTeam Wow! There are some fast people out there. #1 track currently is ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga for $0.99 and its DRM Free! about 17 hours ago from TweetDeck

@BigPondTeam Who can tell me what is the #1 track on BigPond Music, and how much does it cost to purchase? about 18 hours ago from TweetDeck

@BigPondTeam We are going to try a few different things today, so feel free to play along!! #BPS

They are generating interest in some of the services on offer and yes this is marketing but in a fun way. I played along and to tell you the truth will go back to the Big Pond site to check out what is there.

Telstra also ran a short survey yesterday to get feedback from a number of people on how they were performing on Twitter. Before filling in the survey I thought I would ask my Twitter followers their thoughts as well. Here are a few.

pollyemj @mspecht my only interaction with @BigPondTeam was a bit spooky – just weird to be contacted randomly after i mentioned them in a tweet about 19 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

joshsharp @mspecht after a terrible start they very quickly took on feedback and turned it around. they’ve actually done a quite good job.. about 19 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

jurgen @mspecht I think they’re doing a good job. It’s personal and personable. Friendly and forthright. Not just an announcement stream. about 19 hours ago from NatsuLion in reply to mspecht

ourfounder @mspecht I’m obviously across the big pond,but looking over their tweet history I like the voice and regularity of the posts. Good info too. about 19 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to mspecht

After further clarification from @pollyemj I found this interaction was at the start during the corporate robot response period.  The overall feeling matched mine. Terrible start, great improvement.

This gets me to wonder, the employees at Big Pond who are working with their customers in a more human and open fashion are they more engaged employees? Do they now enjoy their job more? Do they trust their employer?

Job loss news continues to be bad

Everywhere I turn at the moment there is more and more talk of job losses! it does not seem to matter what your industry is jobs are disappearing quicker that most news rooms can report on them. A quick round up:

The average job line might soon look like this.

Finding a job

Not only are jobs being lost but at the end of October it was estimated that $1 billion per day was being lost from our retirement savings.

But wait all is not doom and gloom, if you are a CEO your salary rose by 96% in the last six years vs the workers you are now sacking their pay packet only went up by an average of 32%. The average CEO now makes around $5 million per annum or $96,000 per week. In other positive news Indian outsourcer Tata is still hiring about 100 people a year.

How inspiring! Time for a coffee, or maybe a stiff drink!

Social media can drive employee engagement

When your employees know that your customers hate your company it can turn any work place into a toxic cesspool of dissatisfaction. Who wants to work for a company that is always seen as doing wrong and having to justify oneself?

Telstra might be one of those companies. Now I have no research to say that employees within Telstra are dissatisfied, however it must be hard for many of them to keep smiling in the face of all of the criticism.

Update: While I was writing this post Mike Hickinbotham from Telstra was commenting on my other post. In the comment he indicated Telstra is trying to build a culture of anything is possible. A fantastic culture to build and if they succeed it will be a great example of cultural change within a large corporate. It is also a great example of them engaging with the blogosphere as part of a social media strategy.

Now allowing your staff to engage with customers through social media is an activity that will help them become engaged.


Well let me refer to my old mate Hertzberg again. Specifically his Motivators and Hygiene factors. Remember the motivators are Achievement, Recognition, Work Itself, Responsibility, Advancement, and Growth. Breaking down the wall between your staff and customers addresses each one of these areas which in turn will drive a more engaged workforce, and eventually return greater shareholder value.

By using social media you break down the wall, or at least punch holes in it so people can see through, remember to succeed with social media you need to act like a human, not a corporate robot. Below are my thoughts on how using social media will effectively addresses each one of Hertzberg’s motivation factors.

  • Achievement – What is a better achievement than actually having happy customers by working as a team?
  • Recognition – Is one of the key drives of employee satisfaction, so what better way to get recognised than by your customers in public for doing a good job?
  • Responsibility – Being a public figure requires responsibility, this is in addition to the responsibility of engaging and solving customer issues.
  • Growth – Allowing employees to use social media to do their job means many will have to grow into more public roles. This growth externally will more than likely allow them to have a unique insight into your customers wants and needs, making the employees more valuable internally as well.
  • Advancement -The additional responsibility and growth will lay a foundation for further career advancement both internally and externally. The external advancement should not be seen as negative. What is better than having a great employee go to another organisation and be a shining example of how well your organisation develops employees. It might even turn your company into an employer of choice!
  • Work Itself – Once people start using social media to get their job done, the work itself becomes easier and more friendly. This is in part due to the other factors but also because humans by our very nature are social creatures.

I have focused above of solving customer issues, but the same holds true for developing new business relationships, creating sales opportunities etc.

I note that Telstra does have a blogging environment, I wonder if the employees involved feel more engaged than they did before have?