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Being Social – Knowledge Management and Social Media

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Being Social – Knowledge Management and Social Media

Jun 02, 2015   |  By
Dr. Anthony J. Rhem

Following is an excerpt from Dr. Rhem's latest book, Knowledge Management in Practice due out at the end of the year:

Social media brings the power of sharing and collaboration to the masses. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube… knowledge sharing and collaboration has become a way of life. At the core of knowledge management is knowledge sharing and collaboration and social media tools have business and government taking notice.

Social media offers organizations the opportunity of connecting with potential customers at virtually no cost. It is possible to set goals and get ROI, however you have to know where you’re going and what you want to achieve. A way to understand where you want to go is to analyze the Participatory Communication Cycle.


Participatory Communication Cycle

The Participatory Communication Cycle is leveraged to enhance the capacity of individuals and communities to sustain communication activities (Corbett, 2010). The Participatory Communication Cycle consists of assessing your communication capacity, developing a communication plan, implementing communication activities and monitoring and evaluating the results.

Assess Communication Capacity as it pertains to implementing social media is to understand the potential constraints of the proposed medium being utilized (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), ascertain the staff needed to produce, send, and respond to communication within the perspective channel(s). The assessment should include an analysis of your organization’s legal and political constraints to social media, conventional sources and types of messages as well as communication style and scope, Corbett (2010). Incorporating knowledge management will bring needed structure and focus when leveraging the Participatory Communication Cycle.



Knowledge Management and the Participatory Communication Cycle

Knowledge management within the Participatory Communication Cycle occurs as the organization assesses and learns from the impacts of communication within the various social media outlets as dictated by the action plan. Through interaction with constituents your organization will gain valuable knowledge of issues, opinions, and perception of your product and services as well as the company as a whole. In responding to the various comments within social media concerning your organization with an attempt to answer/respond in the correct way, company representatives must have access to the right knowledge. This knowledge will facilitate representatives to respond in a consistent manner and take control of your company’s voice within social media.



Social Media, KM and the Enterprise

Social media takes knowledge and makes it highly iterative. It creates content as a social object. That is, content is no longer a point in time, but something that is part of a social interaction, such as a discussion. It easily disassembles the pillars of structure as it evolves. As examples: content in a micro-blogging service can shift meaning as a discussion unfolds; conversations in enterprise social networks that link people and customer data can defy categorization; and internal blogs and their comments don’t lend themselves to obvious taxonomy.

Social media in the enterprise has gotten the attention of knowledge management scholars and practitioners. It should mean that many of the benefits we experience in the consumer web space which include effective searching, grouping of associated unstructured data sources, and ranking of relevance will become basic features of enterprise solutions. In the enterprise for example when looking to staff a project with a certain skillset the social capabilities that will be leverage would include role, primary skillsets, secondary skillsets, number of years of experience, rating on efficiency of each skill, etc. Social media’s impact on KM will bring about more time analyzing the knowledge that is being created through social interactions.



Social Media Strategy

A social media strategy is your organization’s roadmap to plot this destination. To reach your customers and potential customers successfully you need to start telling your stories directly, and do it in a way that sparks conversations, interest and action. The value proposition of Social Media for is sustained conversations that shape perceptions and attract students to enroll in programs and participate in its activities.

Corbett, J. (2010) Participatory mapping and communication, a guide to developing a participatory communication strategy to support participatory mapping. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Washington, DC.

The examination of social media and KM is furthered detailed in chapter 3.



Dr. Rhem serves as the President/Principal Consultant of A.J. Rhem & Associates, Inc., a privately held Information Systems Integration and Training firm located in Chicago, Illinois.
Anthony is an Information Systems professional with more than thirty (30) years of experience, focused on implementation of major application systems. Anthony is also a published author, and educator, presenting the application and theory of Software Engineering Methodologies, Knowledge Management, and Artificial Intelligence.  He teaches the KM Institute's course in Information Architecture - please see events calendar for next class.



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