There has been a feast of BSP (blogger sensory perception) this week over two converging topics -- Facebook and "participation"... and I have been fascinated by the implications.

Drew McLellan points out that a number of corporations are banning the use of Facebook during work hours. One of those companies is Telstra -- Australia's leading telecommunications company. And a raft of other companies seem to be following suit.
Leaving aside the fact that some of these companies so afraid of Facebook are, themselves, online or technology-focused organisations, there seems to be another agenda at play.
And while employers may well be concerned that Facebook could chew up a significant portion of their employee's days, it is clear (to me at least) that prohibiting access to them is not the answer.
You see, employees are as much a part of your brand as the products that you sell. Your employees largely determine the experience that consumers have with your brand and products/services and, importantly, they provide a humanising effect -- they ARE the "customer face." Just as there are expectations on employee behavior and approaches to engaging and working with customers, so too should there be policies about "acceptable use" for social networking sites.
But there is more.
In the never-ending pursuit of "value," Facebook and employee networks are the closest thing that many organizations are likely to find to an "Expert Network." Somewhere out there, probably only a couple of connections away, your employee will have access to someone of great influence. They may be a great thinker, designer or writer. They may be creative or analytical. And through the network of social connections, their good ideas can be activated within your organization -- like innovation by proxy.
I am sure there are many of us who have tapped our personal networks for ideas, for pointers or for solutions. And sites like Facebook provide a neat way of segmenting and activating communities of interest through their group functions -- and while not perfect, they work.
In this Age of Conversation, participation is the name of the game. The art of competitive advantage now lies not in control but in activation ... and the best way to learn this is to open the doors and start to play.

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Gavin in VP & Principal Analyst with Constellation Research Group. He possesses extensive international experience in driving measurable outcomes via digital customer experience platforms, digital strategy and executing innovative content driven campaigns. With a background in enterprise technology innovation, digital strategy and customer engagement, Gavin connects the dots between disruptive technologies, enterprise governance and business leaders.

Most recently, Gavin led the customer experience, communication and social media programs for SAP's Premier Customer Network. And over the last 15 years, he has been at the forefront of innovative digital strategies for some of the world's leading companies - from IBM to Fujitsu - and on the agency side, leading the global digital strategy for McDonald's.