(This is a guest post from one of our Interns! A little rough, but makes some good points…we’d love to hear your feedback!)
On a recent break from work (traditionally called a coffee break to older generations), I went downstairs from the Evolve Systems’ offices to the basement to grab a bottle of Mountain Dew from the vending machine, the younger generation’s caffeine of choice.
Walking along the carpeted hallways, I remembered how while growing up my parents would encourage me and my brothers to run to the end of the hall and back in an effort to burn off some of our youthful energy. I see many parents still doing this today with their children, especially if they bring their children into work with them.
Kids love to play. Many studies have been done on how play is an integral part of a child’s development, teaching them important life skills such as time management, leadership skills, interpersonal communication, and small group dynamics. Those are the big keywords that adults talk about, but to kids, it’s just “fun”. It’s play.
Kids develop through structure in their lives. Looking back at your own childhood, do you remember how frustrating it was to be told to just “go and play”? Contrast that with how much fun it was when you and your friends or family constructed an intricate game with rules that had to be followed and occasionally restructured! The point here is that play is more fun when there is some sort of structure involved.
Social media is really no different. Social media is a great open playground with many different sandboxes, all waiting there for you to get intimately familiar with them. Social media was created primarily as a means of having fun! Many companies are interested in getting involved with social media, but the often young employees who are instructed to go out and play lack any structure for their efforts, and thus become frustrated with the task and don’t engage social medias to their fullest potential. Thankfully there are often others in the social media playground who have developed structure and are happy to teach that structure to the new kids so that everyone may join in on the fun.
But some of the best structure comes from the parents, or in this case the organization and company that hires someone to engage in social media on their behalf. It’s necessary to have a plan in place. How often will we engage in this medium? What will we say? Will we play nice or try to change the rules? Which friendships will we make? How many boundaries will be in place? Will we try to show off to our peers or just go with the flow? Answering these questions and many more can provide the necessary structure needed to make social media “fun” for your company.
At times, social media is like a large grass field, full of potential for fun and excitement and friendship. But to maximize it’s potential, structure, rules, and a plan is necessary.