One factor that led to the great success of the Pink Conference this year was the use made of social media, primarily Twitter to create a buzz before, during and after the event. The use of social media by an active sub set of the ITSM community has been growing rapidly over the last two years, so I guess it is time I wrote a little about it, especially since it managed to simultaneously be a hot topic and a non-event at this weeks Service Desk and IT Support show in London, England. See you can tell I'm writing for an international audience these days.
It was a hot topic because there were several well attended sessions on the subject, but a non topic in that the use of social media in the show itself, and the nuts and bolts of how it could support ITSM were largely lacking.
But hold on, before I go any further I suppose I should do a sense check. One of the sessions at SDITs began with the chair saying:
"Everybody knows what Social media is..."
Now I happen to think that is a massive presumption.
My mother has a Facebook account and uses it to keep tabs on what the family is doing, but no way on earth could she be described as understanding social media.You'll find me on there as well, and I guess I understand it reasonably well, but only within the bounds of what I use it for. Then there are my children who interact via Facebook in ways that I don't get, and probably don't want to know about. Yet those same Facebook savvy youngsters genuinely do not get the way I use Twitter. Not only that, but there are other Twitter users who have a totally different take on what Twitter is about. Where I see it as a tool for multiway interaction and communication the vast majority of Twitter users actually make very few tweets themselves, but dumbly follow celebrities.
A few of us tried to get Google Wave. What does that brief experiment tell us about social media? I suspect there is a book waiting to be written about that, and I also suspect that ideas Wave introduced will reappear in some other guise.
What else comes under the catch all title of social media? Blogs like this one, webcasts and podcasts, even wikis can all be considered part of the rich and ever changing mix.
So how are we using social media in the ITSM world?
It is a strange aspect of social media that it can both expand and contract your world view. You can feel involved in a social drama taking place on the other side of the world whilst ignoring what is happening in your street. I say this because what follows is almost of necessity based on my personal experience which is shared with an active, but still proportionality small, part of the global ITSM community. It is also hopelessly opinionated - then such is the nature of much social media.
Let me dispose of Linkedin as quickly as possible. It has its uses, but the main use it seems to have is in the self promotion of instant ITIL experts, dispensing advice to those who haven't RTFM.
There are forums and blogs a plenty. Some are better than others. Some, such as the IT Skeptic, manage that tricky act of both representing one individual's view of the world with the ability to create and sustain valuable debate.
Interestingly many of those who are to be found commenting on Rob's site, and Rob himself are also on Twitter, but tend to interact in a different way. If you are an ITSM Twitter newbie a good way of quickly working out who to follow is to start with a few key people and then watch who they interact with. Some of them have lists which can kick start the process for you. Mine, I have to confess, are a little out of date because these days I use streams within hootsuite to keep track of the different kinds of people I follow. Try searching for hashtags like #ITIL #ITSM and of course #ITSMWP and #ITSMWPROW
WTF is ITSMWPROW?
No article on ITSM and social media would be complete without a reference to Chris Dancy . As well as being an extremely active tweeter Chris also gave the world the IT Service Management Weekly Podcast. Now as far as I know there is nothing else out there quite like it, except for the various regional spin offs. In a relatively short time these podcasts have established an amazingly high regular audience
Right, that hopefully has set the scene. In Part 2 I'll look at some ideas on how we can leverage social media and in Part 3 at how to deliver actual ITSM solutions.