“If you are not part of the conversation, you don’t exist.” – Shel Holtz

Taken out of context, the heady phrase above uttered by Shel Holtz last week at IABC Detroit’s “The Wired Workforce” event might incite some sense of fear among those who rely on words and phrases to make a living, but there is some truth to it.

If you’re not engaging in the social media-sphere, you’re not staying relevant.  I mean, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have noticed the shift from “slow” communication – like e-mail – to speedier communication, like tweets and direct messages. It’s all the rage, man.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start conversing!

Oh, what’s that? Your company is part of the 54 percent that blocks social media access? I suppose that would make it difficult to engage, wouldn’t it?

You are likely blocked because your IT department believes the untrue myths circulating among the IT crowd. Luckily for you, Mr. Holtz laid out why they are, in fact, myths, and how to bust them.

Myth #1: Productivity Suffers

Actually, this isn’t true. According to the Department of Labor, productivity actually rose 8.1 percent last year. And considering 2009 saw a boom in social media usage, that clearly didn’t do much to distract us from getting our work done.

Myth #2: Security Will Be Compromised

Here’s a good rebuttal: The government (yeah, that government) allows its employees to use social media, including soldiers fighting the good fight overseas. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if the government of the most powerful country on earth isn’t worried about employees posting a tweet here and there on company time, your organization shouldn’t, either.

Myth #3: We, Uh, Don’t Have Enough Bandwidth

Liars! Bandwidth is not a resource that we find in limited supply, like oil. We don’t have to drill for it. The price does not inexplicably go up before Memorial Day weekend. We can simply buy more if we have to. If you’re getting that excuse, it’s merely that: an excuse.

Even though almost half of companies block social media access, 85 percent of users want organizations to interact with them. Clearly, there is a disconnect between what businesses think their consumers want in terms of connections, and what they’re actually comfortable providing.

Many larger companies now encourage social media activity among its employees. (Zappos is one that immediately comes to mind.) By empowering their employees to tweet about business and pleasure, they’re giving the company a human voice, and carving out an oh-so-important niche in the social media space.

So I ask you: Is your company afraid of being human?

— Brad Marley