The Read: Social Media for Project Managers

A review of the book Social Media for Project Managers by Elizabeth Harrin:

Social Media is a term used to refer to the tools and platforms that are now online to allow people to connect and collaborate.  Popular social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Pinterest.  There are a lot of options for using social media, and the popular platforms come and go, but most users of social media see it as a medium that is here to stay and is in fact, the way of the future.  Social media already has a huge impact on modern life and even though it has been slow to penetrate the corporate world it has made inroads there as well.

So how can Project Managers use social media to help with managing project teams?  Is it worth exploring?  If it is useful to Project Managers, are all aspects of social media applicable?  What might be worth implementing and how do you make this change?  These are all topics that are discussed in Elizabeth Harrin’s new book Social Media for Project Managers.There are challenges to incorporating social media into the traditional workplace and a lot depends on your team and your corporate culture, as well as your own commitment to incorporating social media into your management process.

In fact, there are enough pieces to evaluate and implement, and enough change to manage, that implementing an effective social media solution to project communication is a project in and of itself.

Once you’ve done the work, the hardest part of the process is adoption.  How do you get everyone to use it?  How do you get management to understand the importance and potential of it, not only to get it started but to also give it a chance?  It is a lot of work to end up discarded and unused.

But if you can get it working and set up in a way that works for your project team, it can be great.  Imagine one place to share and collaborate that is accessible to any team member, anywhere.  One place to update and store information.  This is really the way of the future in the workplace so learning this way of working early on, it can only help you.  Besides, managing communication by e-mail is unpleasant for everyone.  Technology has given us a better way, if we can leverage it effectively.

Here are some social media technologies that you might find helpful.  Microblogging consist of short updates and messages that are much like chat but are visible to everyone.  These are great for quick updates.  An example of a microblogging tool is Twitter.  Blogs are a great way to provide more comprehensive project updates.  Instant messaging is like e-mail but happens in real time and allows you to see who is on, as well as to chat with multiple people at once.  This is handy when not all team members are on site and something can be addressed quickly.  Wiki’s allow your team to compile the teams collected knowledge in once place.  Topic entered here can link to other related knowledge and allows users to search for the topic needed instead of opening and searching through stored documents.  There are others tool as well that are covered in the book.

I think this book has helpful information in it, especially if you have little knowledge of what options are available to you.  The book also gives you fair warning of the challenges and pit falls that you can run into, especially when dealing with managers or co-workers.  The book is small and it is not a total slog however it isn’t an exciting read either, so it took me a little longer than it normally would to get through it, because I kept getting bored and putting it down.

This is a worthwhile book if you are looking for some sound ideas on how to start incorporating social media into your projects, as the author is level headed and has some good advice.  Don’t think that this book will be all you need however.  It doesn’t really help you choose specific software.  It doesn’t have any detailed help for setting up a solution that will work for you.  This book is at a high level and is really just an introduction to the possibilities and some advice on change management.  So just keep in mind that there will be a lot you have to figure out for yourself.