Way, way back in the good old days of 2005, before we had FaceBook and Twitter; YouTube, Digg or Yelp, it was big news when a big company blogged. During the time, Robert Scoble and I were researching Naked Conversations, the world was astounded when individuals at General Motors, Microsoft and Sun Micro became the among the first pioneers to slip social media inside corporate gates.
In 2005, the barriers to enterprise social media activity of any kind were formidable. There was legal and the fear of negative comments; we were clueless on what to measure or how to measure. There were bosses with arms folded and heads moving side-to-side at the thought of employees, on company time, writing about the work they did and posting it without filters or reviews by superior; without running it past the twin command and control towers of PR and legal.
What a quaint social media universe it was way back then all of five years ago when there were less than 8 million people in the world using the primitive tools of social media.
I was reminded about these very recent good old days last night as I watched a panel discussion at IT Executive Forum, produced by Tatyana Kanzaveli, as part of her excellent continuing series. The panelists: Lasandra Brill of Cisco; Tony "Frosty" Welch of HP, Mike Brito of Intel; and Sumaya Kazi of Sun Micro are among the top social professionals in their respective organizations.
None of them were the first to bring social media into their organizations They are not the sometimes forgotten risk-takers who so recently risked termination by being the first to inject this new, transparent, conversational communications into cultures and systems that were not designed for openness.
Each of them is highly professional and knowledgeable. They do what they do with at least as much job security as anyone else in a corporation has these days. They answered questions with ease, expertise and occasional humor on the usual gambit of questions regarding measurement and management, training and process. To some degree, each of these four players in these four prominent tech enterprises takes a different approach, but for the most part it has become a matter of nuance.
They still have to fight for budget--and there is still no box to accommodate the functionality of their social media teams in their respective org charts.
But what was most important to me is that there is no longer a question as to whether or not social media will continue in the enterprise. Social media is now generally recognized as necessary for a modern entity. The corporation has become conversational and the pioneer phase of this happening seems to sometime in recent months silently drawn to a close.
Systems are now in placed. Social media training, encouragement and coaching seems to now be part of the workplace environment. And using the tools of social media to just do one' job is not only now acceptable, it has become expected.
Social media is normalizing. The fact that a company now has a blog or tweets or has a Facebook account is about as newsworthy as the fact that it allows employees to use email or telephones without someone screening what they say.
Social media will still astound from time to time as it did when Janis Krums shot a photo of that plane on the Hudson or when the Iran election was ostensibly hijacked.
But in the day-to-day workplace environment using social media tools is becoming routine and about as newsworthy as receiving email. Social media is normalizing and as it does so it is becoming less controversial and more valuable.
And as far as I am concerned this is a very good thing.