Project Management and the so-called Social Web – Have you moved your teams online?

The last year has brought a flurry of activity in the project productivity circles around the concept of Social Media. It’s buzzword-heavy discussion, rife with recommendations on using so-called Web 2.0 tools to streamline information sharing, centralize data storage, and build communities online. To be sure, the latest suite of net tools in this basket range from revolutionary, all the way to downright nifty. But the question remains: will your projects benefit by simply embracing fancy new tools?

It’s safe to say that up to about two years ago, what we call social media was exclusively the domain of artists, teens, and the technorati. The idea of Facebook as a mainstream communication platform was just gaining momentum, and services such as Twitter still required a lengthy explanation in cocktail party conversation. Things have changed in the last few years, however. Now, The New York Times is discussing these services regularly, and Nielsen Online has been tracking explosive growth in the space; from February 2008 to February 2009, Twitter grew 1,382% — from 475,000 unique visitors per month in ‘08 to over 7 million unique visitors in ‘09. Facebook had 20 million unique visitors in February 2008, today boasting more than 65 million — a 240% leap. And 65 million is a fraction of the reported 150 million registered users of Facebook.

Project management is, of course, making it’s way to the social media universe. Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of monetization, tells me that Paramount Pictures asked all employees to communicate with one another on Facebook exclusively for one week as a way of getting teams to understand the importance of online social interaction on the tool.