The companies that are best at being social at work

Last week, as Facebook went public, some investors questioned its true value. This got me thinking about the growing rise of social networks within businesses and I wondered what value, if any, companies are deriving from implementing their use? Fortunately, I've been able to draw upon our own experience using Yammer at Brand Learning as well as the fairly recent research "Making The Business Case For Enterprise Social Networking" from the Altimeter Group in February of this year.

The findings from this research confirm, not too surprisingly, that the top reasons that businesses have started to deploy social networks internally is to encourage the sharing of best practice and facilitate cross-department and overall employee collaboration. If not launched across the whole business, then Marketing and IT are the two functions where they have started first. Interestingly, just over half of those companies surveyed see themselves very much at the experimental stage of using social networks internally, or with short term goals at present, and I suspect these same companies are probably further behind in their sophistication and use of social media with their customers.

When asked how significant an impact they are achieving across a number of dimensions, collaboration came out top. However the ability to find and share expertise was second, confirming our own experience at Brand Learning that just knowing who to ask is not that easy and social networks can help surface both the official and non-official experts within an organisation. You would think that most companies would be taking advantage of digital to have a full suite of analytics and be on top of measuring the impact. Sadly, this is not the case, and an incredible 69% acknowledged they are poor or very poor at measuring the value of employing social media within their business.

Why Leaders need Social Media - an interview with Deloitte Australia's CEO, Giam Swiegers.

Yammer, which we started using at Brand Learning about 2 years ago, is the most widely adopted system (19% use it) amongst those surveyed. A fantastic example of the benefits of Yammer is that of Deloittes in Australia where the adoption of Yammer has reputedly reaped real benefits in terms of lower employee turnover, better management visibility, improved productivity, greater workforce collaboration, enhanced creativity and innovation, faster conflict resolution and more.

My overall conclusion from the report by the Altimeter Group and from our own experience is that it is still very early days, but the prize is potentially very significant. I think there is a very real risk that companies can miss out on the significant benefits of a more social organisation, particularly if they adopt too much of a 'launch and pray' approach. Whilst the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube help in building familiarity with social networks, most organisations have deeply ingrained ways of working, well established existing systems, and these will not change easily. My own advice would be:

  • Be clear on the purpose of your social network, and what unites the communities that are set up.
  • Start small but with a roadmap for the future – and listen and adapt as you go
  • Have committed individuals who will both drive and support participation

And then it is possible to reach the magical 'tipping point' when the network reaches the critical mass of users and vibrancy that it is fuelled by its own energy.

Last week, as Facebook went public, some investors questioned its true value. This got me thinking about the growing rise of social networks within businesses and I wondered what value, if any, companies are deriving from implementing their use? Fortunately, I've been able to draw upon our own experience using Yammer at Brand Learning as well as the fairly recent research 'Making The Business Case For Enterprise Social Networking' from the Altimeter Group in February of this year. The findings from this research confirm, not too surprisingly, that the top reasons that businesses have started to deploy social networks internally is to encourage the sharing of best practice and facilitate cross-department and overall employee collaboration. If not launched across the whole business, then Marketing and IT are the two functions where they have started first. Interestingly, just over half of those companies surveyed see themselves very much at the experimental stage of using social networks internally, or with short term goals at present, and I suspect these same companies are probably further behind in their sophistication and use of social media with their customers.

 

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s digital capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly @BruceyGoosey. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Digital.

Join the conversation and share your opinions on Twitter or LinkedIn, where you’ll find our latest content as well as some of our favourite thought-pieces from other influencers.