Research is pointing to the necessity to incorporate social media into improving productivity, employee communication and in working with suppliers. We frequently see articles on how to cope better with the hundreds of emails we are pressured to check and respond to. It seems to have become a badge of honour to say that "I am receiving hundreds of emails a day", claiming this as a major workload. Are the hundreds of emails received of real value or do many of them represent the dozens of responses in a chain of communication, all sent by emails? Do many of these emails represent items that are immediately filed or deleted? Possibly the answer is to reconsider the ways in which we communicate rather than how to handle email better.
Online systems such as Asana and BaseCamp, if used appropriately, can help to reduce the email deluge, while still enabling users to keep track of important online discussions. The trick is to find ways to reduce the communication flow coming in via emails and to be able to quickly review a stream of communication with an online tool. Even online tools such as a closed or private group on Facebook could help to control the flow of messages. Team members can then gradually remove themselves from discussion and circulation lists to rather focus on the essential communication within the team space.
The conversion to social media has been increasing for years now with expectations of it accelerating and broadening the reach of communication. The complication may be the number of different networks that people use - one uses Facebook, while the next prefers Twitter. Messaging friends and colleagues via social networks is on the rise. "I'll facebook it to you" is not unusual to hear, nor is it odd to "tweet a conference".
With all the media platforms that are available today, email remains the most cross-platform of them all. The trend toward social media and other online systems may help drive improvement in email systems. Of particular note in recent months has been Google's attempts to sort emails automatically for its users so that they can focus on specific categories of email at a time. In the newest Google mail version being rolled out, the email inbox is treated as a to-do-list. One writer has even described Google's Inbox as "addictive" - it seems we can learn to handle our bulging email inboxes in new, more productive ways while we take on additional social media technologies.
Submitted on 3 November 2014. First published on AfricaEducation.org.
Social media: the essential communication component or are we going to make over the way we do email?