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Social Media Hits Critical Mass: How Will Your Latest Hires Communicate?

A recent study indicates that more than half of all adults rely on some form of social media to communicate not just with friends and family, but also with their colleagues. And in the 18 to 34 year old adult category (the adult term is used very loosely here) those numbers climb way higher. All this means one thing: Those new employees you are planning in hiring will be communicating in all sorts of different ways.

A recent study indicates that more than half of all adults rely on some form of social media to communicate not just with friends and family, but also with their colleagues. And in the 18 to 34 year old adult category (the adult term is used very loosely here) those numbers climb way higher. All this means one thing: Those new employees you are planning in hiring will be communicating in all sorts of different ways.According to Interpublic's Universal McCann unit, "Text messaging, blogging and social networking have reached critical mass, with more than half of adults now relying on at least one of these so-called Web 2.0 platforms for communicating with friends, family, or colleagues on a regular basis."

The study also found that "among digital media's bleeding edge - adults 18-34 - social media now is the dominant form of personal communication media, with 85% of this influential demographic group relying on one or more Web 2.0 platforms to stay in touch with others."

IM and e-mail got some attention in the study but they are already considered "old school" methods of communication. Indeed, at the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference I attended, e-mail was referred to again and again as such. One presenter indicated that among college kids, e-mail is only used to keep in touch with their parents. This is your new pool of talent.

According to the study, the increase in text messaging is proving that "mobile media also is becoming a dominant source of personal communications beyond the cell phone, even if mass marketers haven't yet figured out how to crack the potential of marketing through the medium. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they've never sent a text message fell to 41% this year from 49% a year ago. And among 18- to 34-year-olds, it dropped to 22% from 38%."

The question is how will these new forms of communication play out in small and midsize businesses? Will businesses have to decide on a universal form of communication? Will they be able to let their employees pick how they want to communicate?

At the conference, a session titled "Micro-blogging and Emergent Platforms" addressed this issue and, as one of the speakers, Pistachio Consulting founder Laura Fitton pointed out is that there are now a lot of different communication options for employees to choose from.

But what emerged was that it is still unclear how these social media tools are playing out in the workplace. Are employees twittering colleagues for fun or with real questions that they can get answers to more quickly by putting it out on a network?

Fitton was a huge advocate for Twitter in the workplace, emphasizing it's ability to reach lots of people quickly while another speaker 1938 Media president Loren Feldman, said he can't see companies ever using it, calling the "microsnippets of text not valuable."

(The audience loved that one and particularly enjoyed attacking Feldman for not embracing Twitter as a business tool. "You are wrong!" one audience member yelled at him.)

Is your business embracing any social media tools? Let us know in the comments.

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