Social media as an important communication channel in ITSM is an emerging new concept. Social media has been popular for many years, but for many people, it is for the private life. The situation is an opposite of the early years of telephone and also the SMS. Then it was thought that the telephone would be only for business and official use. The developers of SMS thought that its main use would be for secretaries to send messages to their bosses during meetings. In both cases the social use was a surprise and overwhelmed the original planned use.
It is high time to wake up to the use of social media in ITSM. It supports two important areas: communication and collaboration. Social media is different compared to traditional ways of communication and collaboration. Communication is often seen as one-way street; the IT management pushes out information but does not receive feedback. Collaboration is considered to require physical meetings which are hard to organize.
The problem is that the customer may not see ITSM matters as very interesting and consequently do not read communication and do not attend meetings. Social media combines communication and collaboration. Communication is two sided as customers can raise issues and star discussions. Discussions are open and in many cases searchable, so that people can find discussions and return to them when it suits them.
Social media can lead to deeper collaboration as it may open new forums for discussions.
Here are some guiding principles for the use of social media in ITSM.
Don’t try to control
You cannot control social media. You can only manage your own presence and contribution. If you do it well, you can almost manage your profile in social media.
Select your forums
Your customers will choose which forums they frequent and you can choose which forums you frequent. It is good if they overlap.
You need to be visible, you need to be interesting and useful. Share useful information and be active. Respond to questions and complaints.
When you share valuable information privately, only one or few persons will see it. When you share information openly, many people will see it.
Social media can easily degenerate to forum of insults and threats. Stay calm and send positive messages. Accept critical comments as constructive if possible. Delete or ignore stupid comments.
Create forums for experts
There is a lot of valuable knowledge of IT related matters outside IT department. Encourage specialists to share their knowledge in an expert forum. The discussions can be enormously valuable for those who are seeking knowledge in a special field.
Social media for communications
Social media can support communication. It should not be seen as the only channel; you need to use many channels. Social media is good for publishing frequent updates and for getting feedback. Social media can be used both in small and large scale activities. It can help with projects, large and small changes, service disruptions etc.
For example, most service desk communications should be in open forums. Instead of contacting the service desk, customers can check if anybody has had the same problem or question. Quite often it is possible to find the question and the answer without contacting the service desk.
Social media for collaboration
Collaboration across traditional boundaries can be very valuable and social media can help to cross various barriers. Collaboration requires communication, exchange of ideas can lead to deeper cooperation and collaboration.
Service improvements can be a good area for social media collaboration.