Because social software is – well – social, its usefulness increases as more people invoke it to organize information, share expertise and interact with colleagues. This means that getting a critical mass of people in a workgroup using social software tools is – well – critical. Yet many social software evangelists describe the value of these technologies in vague terms such as “productive” (as in “social software will make people more productive”) and “collaborative” (as in “social software will make our organization more collaborative”).
It’s great that there are pioneers willing to socialize the concept of how social software helps workers get their work done. However, if you believe that humans are always assessing the WIIFM angle of any new tool, then a more emotional description of value is needed. Telling me that social software will make me more productive doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t compel me to change my ways.
When I think of how social software tools can help me in my work, I equate value with the ability to do three things:
- Make a dent in my work. I have no illusions about getting everything done before I leave for the day, there is just too much on the docket. But I do want to feel like I made progress on projects and assignments.
- Do good quality work. I want to be proud of my deliverables, the work I do in general and the interactions I have with colleagues.
- Leave to have dinner with my family at a reasonable hour. We all work long hours sometimes even sacrifice vacation time to get things done. It’s nice when social tools win us back some time each day.
This is my list of WIIFM. It’s important that social software proponents and project leaders make sure they answer the WIIFM question for their worker community.