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I’m on Facebook and Twitter 10 hours per day – My opinion? My lips are sealed.

I recently wrote a blog regarding the use of social tools and the challenges of adoption versus training. A tantalizing social study I recently ran across was conducted the Pew Research Center in conjunction with Rutgers University in New Jersey. According to this study, people who use Facebook and Twitter are less likely than others to share their opinions on hot button issues, even when they are offline. Researchers say they have detected a spiral of silence phenomenon. Unless people know their audience agrees, they are likely to shy away from discussing anything controversial.

“People do not tend to be using social media for this type of important political discussion. And if anything, it may actually be removing conversation from the public sphere, said Keith Hampton a communication professor at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study.

Of the 1,801 adults surveyed 86% say they would be willing to discuss their views about government surveillance if it came up at various in-person scenarios, such as at a public meeting at work or at a restaurant with friends, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users said they would be willing to post online about it.

What’s more, the typical Facebook user – someone who logs onto the site a few times a day, was actually half as likely to discuss the Snowden case at a public meeting as a non-Facebook user. Someone who goes on Twitter a few times per day was one quarter as likely to share opinions in the workplace as compared with those who never use Twitter.

To me, it rings the same sort of bells as business social. If users won’t voice their opinion in a personal social setting, it makes sense they would be even less likely to voice it in an on-line business setting.

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Hammer the Yammer

A week or so ago, I received an email from a Microsoft Yammer group that I belong to. The gist of the email offered prizes to individuals who used Yammer correctly. Basic usability, in other words, just don’t post to all, etc. I am curious to see what the result were and if the message sunk in. This was also a technical group, so one would have assumed that they could readily understand the nuances of the software to use it correctly. Obviously not.

Enterprise social is slowly gaining momentum, or at least is getting a push forward in many organizations. A productivity benefit, for sure, but hard to quantify. Microsoft has invested quite a bit of money, resources, and time after the acquisition of the software. Even so, since it is essentially being given away, it is still struggling in acceptance and adoption. Part of the problem, not just with Yammer, but many enterprise social tools, is workers just don’t want to use them. They prefer email, and their tidy applications all neatly accessible in a familiar way.

We have two sides of the coin here. The question then, is the acceptance of Yammer due to culture problem, or due to a lack of training and understanding of the benefits the software provides? Your call.

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