How to Use Social Media to Enhance Project Management
One way to collect project-related information, as well as to keep tabs on your project and share its progress with the rest of your team is to make use of social media — you know, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
Successful project management requires not only that you collect and analyze relevant project information but, more importantly, that you use that information in a timely and effective manner to make sure everything goes off without a hitch (or with as few hitches as possible).
Specifically, you need to make sure your project plan looks at all relevant issues, your team members perform all project work effectively within existing constraints, and the project itself ultimately achieves the desired results.
Depending upon the size and characteristics of the project and the policies and practices of the organization conducting it, the use of social media to support project planning and management may be considerable or non-existent. You can use several different social media tools to enhance the quality and timeliness of project information sharing, together with some of their particular capabilities.
In its most general sense, the term social media (also called social networking) refers to the different online technology tools that enable you to share information easily in a two-way, dynamic interchange via the Internet.
In addition to e-mail and instant messaging to maintain contact with and to share and obtain information from your team members, following are some of the more popular online information-sharing tools you can use:
Blogs: Information repositories on a particular topic that are made up of short articles (called posts) and their corresponding reader comments. Blogs are useful for soliciting from or making subject matter and project-related information available to diverse audiences and geographically distributed team members.
Webinars: On-line seminars hosted or meetings conducted at particular websites. Webinars can be especially useful for acquiring and enhancing skills and knowledge, presenting project progress reports, and discussing important project issues.
Podcasts and vodcasts: On-demand audio and video files. They’re useful for sharing small amounts of focused information with disbursed groups.
Wikis: Collections of web pages on a particular topic. Wikis can be useful as repositories of information and experience for projects currently underway, as well as to encourage collaboration among team members and between team members and audiences.
Cloud computing: The provision of hardware, software, or IT services by third parties over a network (typically the Internet). The cloud allows you to access files that you maintain on the cloud and use software or other services that are provided through the cloud. An increasing number of IT providers (examples include Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google) are making cloud computing services available to users for a fee.
Social networking sites: Websites where people can post online profiles of their personal and business information and interests and link to others with similar interests, backgrounds, and pursuits. This assemblage of like-minded people is called a group or a community, depending upon the site, and you can either join existing ones or start your own.
Social networking sites like LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Yammer, and Twitter can facilitate sharing information about your project and related subjects with team members and others in your project audience, as well as obtaining professional and personal information and maintaining relationships with those people.
LinkedIn is the most used business and career oriented social networking site. Members include current and past job-related information in their profiles, as well as personal interests and activities. In addition, there are groups made up of people from specified companies and organizations, as well as ones comprised of people with particular subject matter interests.
As an example, LinkedIn has over 6,000 groups listed that are focused on some aspect of project management. To see a complete listing, select “Groups” from the menu at the top of the Home page and type “Project Management” in the search field that appears.
Twitter provides the capability for members to communicate with each other by sending short, real-time messages (called tweets). Twitter also allows users to create a hashtag (a topic with a hash symbol [#] at the start), which allows you to see all tweets that have the same hashtag.
Yammer is a social network focused on meeting the information needs of businesses and organizations. Yammer has special-interest groups and company groups, and members can send several types of short, quick messages to the general population or members of specified groups.
Your team can use each of these social media vehicles throughout your project’s life to facilitate effective information sharing and build interpersonal relationships among team members and with project drivers and supporters.