I found an article this morning about how social media is evolving in organisations to become more than just a marketing tool. Social media is now becoming a part of many departments in big organisations from HR right through to project management. And even smaller companies are jumping on board. So that got me thinking, what are some of the ways you could use social media to manage your projects?

The important thing to remember about social media is it is not confined to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Blogs, wikis, online pinboards and team websites all fall under the social media umbrella. Organisations are even creating their own in house social media platforms, or adopting software with integrated social media tools to help incorporate this growing trend into their everyday operations.

So how can social media help you manage your projects? Here are four ways:

1. Communication

As Gen Y and Gen Z’s enter the workforce, we are beginning to not only see a trend of multi-generational project teams, but also less reliance on email. As the article I mentioned above shows, many of the younger people entering the workforce don’t like email and prefer a more team oriented communication. As such, some companies such as IBM are adopting Facebook and Twitter style communication platforms, where team members can share project information quickly and collaboratively. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, you can find and follow other users in the What’s New section, which gives you a chat-like feature to share comments and insights with team members about projects. This reduces a huge amount of internal email communication in favour of succinct responses.

2. Collaboration

Similarly to helping with communication, products like SharePoint that can be integrated with your project management software allow for the creation of team wikis and websites, where all team members can contribute and store appropriate project information for other team members to access and edit. This really fosters a collaborative approach to managing your project, no matter how far spread your project team members are around the world. The project also ultimately benefits, with ideas and solutions continually evolving as team members contribute their expertise.

3. Keeping up to date with contacts

Another tool that can be integrated with some project management software products such as IPM is the Outlook Social Connector. The Outlook Social Connector enables you to look at your Outlook contacts’ activity in social networks such as Linkedin, Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, Viadeo and Xing. This way, you can stay up to date with contacts as the project progresses, build up your network for the future and keep up to date with new projects that may be coming up.

4. Keeping track of lessons learned

This way of using social media has been mentioned on the PMI Voices on Project Management blog as a way of keeping track of lessons learned and project review. Using some of the tools above, internal social media pages can be set up to capture comments for lessons learned. As Bernadine Douglas says, this allows you to reach stakeholders in their habitat, which could result in more candid and useful comments for future projects.

Whilst it has traditionally been viewed as a consumer product or a marketing tool, social media can also have very effective applications in other areas, in particular project management. Can you think of any other way social media can help manage your projects? Feel free to post a comment below.