One of the things that social media does, is blur the line between work and play.
The distinction is one that employers , regulators and brands attempt to manage, often with arcane rules that make them a laughing stock to their users. There are still employers that – forgetting the lessons of Canute – try to hold back the tide – forbidding employees from using social media as part of their activities of daily working. Many employers still see Facebook as frivolous and as for Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit- forget it.
Social media is disruptive, it is the sluice by which we relieve the pressure of over prescriptive IT policies, allowing our creative juices to flow. One of my employers is currently hung up on the mail protocols I am using to communicate with customers. I’ve just taken to mailing them on Linked In and texting them when its urgent. I can’t organise my life around land-based servers- life is too short.
Employers who really get it, realise the fluidity of the new working patterns. People wake up in the middle of the night with brilliant ideas – and blog them!
Others capture the essence of a presentation , snap it and in moments, that drawing or explanation or slide is on youtube, instagram or slideshare.
We have no idea where the idea will go next. One of my slideshare presentations has around 100,000 views- goodness only knows who from- that is not the point (at least to me). The point is that ideas are spreading like the spores of a delicate plant, carried on the wind to new and fertile fields.
And in this incredible modality, the old brands adapt or die. Companies either react or proact, they can either be managed by or manage this change.
Organisations that impose from above, appear to be at a disadvantage, for their creativity is from below. Organisations that can allow themselves to be lifted from below can become as light as the spores and be carried to new places.
Of course if you are a big American investment bank or a global food brand leader, the thought that your business might be moving because of trends beyond your ken- is scary. Which is why you should be putting those people who understand Google- in charge.
If you don’t give head to the new forces that power people to write blogs, create beautiful Facebook pages and post delightfully around the internet, you will look back and ask- what was I doing?
I have friends who ignored punk in 1977 , who didn’t understand the creativity in the disruption. The people who were my thought leaders in those days – Tony Paraons, Julie Burchill, Danny Baker and Charles Shaar-Murray are now in their 60s. I read them in the New Musical Express.
Oddly, this week I hear that the NME will become free to read, it was my bible in 1977- now it is read by around 15,000 people a week and costs £2.60. It has become -like vinyl- a nostalgia play.
Social Media sets us free of the constraints of the past. It has its own constraints but these are defined by rules that cannot be written down by employers, regulators or brands. The new rules are defined by the imagination of those who use the media, people like you and me.