Posted by Marc Milgrom on 26.05.10
May 27, 2010 – Toronto, ON | We hear a lot about social media every day in blog posts, Twitter, traditional media and the like. It’s “the” method of communication for many people, surpassing speaking on the phone, even if it’s mobile. It has become an accepted, effective and growing method of marketing and interacting with customers. So what about within your business?
Historically, technology was developed in the business world, government or academia first, and then later adapted for consumer opportunities. Examples include the desktop computer, email and the Internet itself. Today, what we’re often seeing is the opposite, with consumer products later finding business application, such as desktop search, podcasts, broadband video and mobile applications.
It’s also normal to see consumer software used by employees in the workplace before being formally adopted by IT departments. Want your people to be more productive and lower IT costs at the same time? Find out what your employees like to use and involve them in determining what tools the business can benefit from. Like it or not, changes are occurring in how people think, learn, process information, communicate and collaborate.
Social media is now becoming more widely accepted within businesses to enable people to communicate, collaborate and share knowledge in a more productive manner. LinkedIn and Twitter are two public sites that can be used effectively for specific business purposes such as recruitment or customer support. While management often debates the pros and cons of allowing employees access to popular, public social networks such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, they are starting to see the value of these types of tools and functionality within the organization. You can now have functionality similar to the public social networks inside your organization – to share information in a safe and controlled environment, without the worry of exposing sensitive corporate information to others outside the company.
A few factors contribute to the value social media can play for business. Humans are social and visual creatures by nature. There is a strong move online toward images and video, for management communications, product information, presentations, blog posts and training (see Video Opportunities article for more examples). We are continuing to see communication go towards shorter, searchable and contextual “sound bites”.
Social media can aid in one other business challenge. The loss of corporate knowledge is a growing issue, with an aging population and significant numbers close to retirement, regular employee turnover and the high cost of training new people. When people leave your business, they walk out the door with some of your most valuable assets: applied knowledge and experience. Making it easier for people to share knowledge in a safe and controlled manner and wrapping social activities such as commenting, rating and tagging around online information and dialogues, helps draw out this experience and convert it from individual to organizational value. Capturing just a small percentage of this day-to-day experience and making it searchable within your organization unlocks a knowledge base that was previously inaccessible.
Your younger employees expect to have tools in the workplace that they already use daily. Providing similar, easy-to-use tools within the organization helps break down the traditional cultural resistance to knowledge sharing that many businesses struggle with.
“Social business” opportunities to share what’s important and interesting include:
- management communications;
- a central place to aggregate, manage, access and repurpose all presentations;
- innovation tools;
- competitor information;
- profiles with documents authored, recent work experience, speaking engagements, areas of interest and blogs; and
- online, just-in-time and distance training.
Through the use of video and interactive applications, you help attract, engage, interact and retain your people. You also reduce the time of onboarding, making employees more valuable, more quickly.
Additional benefits of making your business social are:
- unleashing creativity and innovation;
- reducing time to market;
- increasing productivity through quicker access to knowledge;
- increasing revenue by delivering broader value to more customers;
- significantly reducing email messages; and
- improving overall employee engagement.
By building true organizational knowledge, these tools help strengthen brand and corporate loyalty within an organization, thereby increasing external brand value.