Social Media = The Main Monkey Business?

There’s a rock instrumental from Rush I really like called “The Main Monkey Business”. Lead singer and bass player, Geddy Lee, said the title of the song comes from a phrase his mom used to describe someone up to no good.

Long story short is, this person was up to hijinks and my mother was telling me, “Well I think there was some monkey business involved”, and I said, “What do you mean, monkey business? What kind of monkey business?” And she said, “The MAIN monkey business”. So I love that phrase and every time I think of her saying “The MAIN monkey business” it makes me laugh. (from an interview)

For many, social media means people up to time-wasting hijinks = the main monkey business.

Early in July I wrote a post at HRmarketer titled We’re social media hippies who live in Mamby-Pamby Land. I can dig that.

Here’s an excerpt:

“No, we recommend that managers have no relationship with their direct reports outside of work — don’t go to lunch with them, don’t have a beer with them after work, and definitely don’t offer solutions to their personal problems — and that they should keep their personal business to themselves and offline. Fraternizing and social media are dangerous and exposes our firm to great risk.”

Those were words I heard recently from an HR executive at small company of about 500 employees.

Wow, I thought. That’s just one big hot ball of fun.

Those of us who have big “voices” in social media tend to forget that the rest of our world still has a lot of catching up to do.

But guess what? The main monkey business isn’t just for kids and Mamby-Pamby Land hippies anymore.

According to new research from The Pew Internet & American Life Project:

Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.

The use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.

Folks who’ve been in the workforce for quite a spell, many of whom are leaders and management.

Take Twitter as one example — there’s a lot of learning and networking value for individuals and organizations (an internal-org equivalent is Yammer).

No, you don’t have to share what you’re eating for lunch with everyone, or that you have to drop your pet iguana off at the vet, or that your daughter is dating a dink.

You can actually learn stuff. (You will have to sift through above a bit, though.)

Hey, the 24/7/365 world may be killing us, but there’s a way to revitalize your heart and mind in 140 characters or less, and in only 30 minutes three times per week, just like physical exercise.

Want to learn more about leadership? Then create a Twitter channel in your Twitter application of choice with the hashtag #leadership and learn the “leaders” (I use TweetDeck).

Want to learn more about human resources? Then create the #HR Twitter channel and learn from the smart “people” folk in the industry.

Each specific hashtag channel is rich in content sharing from highly respected publications, blogs and thought leaders in those topic areas. There is no end to the topic channels you can find on Twitter! And that also means you’ll expose yourself to fantastic networking and mentoring opportunities that will fuel the need for face-to-face interaction at local events and national conferences.

There’s also TweetChat where you can go to specific virtual room related to a specific hashtag and connect with people talking about similar things.

These great informal learning and employee development channels on Twitter can help with your outreach strategies for “networking” as well — identifying potential job applicants, consultants, vendors and who knows who else.

And that’s only the beginning.

I’ll take the main monkey business every time.

Be better and brighter.


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