As we all know, social media has a multitude of uses, from helping us stay connected with friends and searching for jobs, to marketing, customer service, sales and recruitment. However, one area that is often overlooked is how businesses can use social networks internally.
Internal social networks, also known as enterprise social networks (ESNs), can help to create a sense of community online and are particularly useful for businesses that are moving to mobile or are spread across multiple offices. If you’ve not considered how ESNs could benefit your business, take a look at some of the advantages below:
- Improved communication
In an increasingly mobile workplace, gone are the days of chatting by the water cooler or being able to simply walk to the other side of the office to speak to a colleague. Enterprise social networks can therefore help colleagues come together and easily engage in conversations, regardless of geograhic barriers.
- Improved collaboration
It can be difficult working as part of a team when you’re not all in the same room. However, enterprise social networks provide a number of features that make it easier, from being able to effectively manange project progress, share files and much more.
A problem many businesses can have is understanding what other teams are working on. If you add a mobile workforce into the equation then this can become even harder. Different teams may each be working on similar projects (doubling up on time and money), or projects where if efforts were combined, could be even better. Enterprise social networks can help reduce these issues, by providing more transparency to the mix. For example, employees can share projects they are working on, along with their progress. Some managers may be concerned by complete transpareny, but it is often possible to keep certain information private where required.
- Find internal expertise
Running a project that needs specific expertise? It can be difficult knowing if anyone has the required skills, particularly in a larger business. You may therefore turn to someone who is underskilled, or hire a consultant which can be costly. Enterprise social networks can help you see what talent is already available in-house. Employees can create their own profiles and add their professional experiences and skills. This is then easily searchable, so next time you have a project, you can find the best people for the job.
- Share ideas
Two heads are better than one, but if you struggle to get your team together for a brainstorming session, consider getting everyone to contribute via your enterprise social network. You can open this up to your wider business and unlike a brainstorming session where you allocate a time, ideas can be shared online 24/7. This can mean more people and more ideas, which can help your business stay on its toes, be more innovative and keep moving forward
- Develop relationships
Enteprise social networks are much more than just a platform to communicate, they can also be used to help colleagues build stronger relationships with their co-workers. This can help employees feel happier in their role and it can make the business run smoother, with fewer conflicts.
- Increased productivity
Enterprise social networks can help to create a more open and innovative culture. Employees can also feel more engaged, which can boost productivity and also improve employee rentention.
If you’re interested in enterprise social networks for your company, then there are a number of solutions to consider. Here are 3 suggestions:
Founded in 2008, Yammer is a freemium enterprise social network owned by Microsoft. Users can start groups, share ideas, collaborate, upload documents, create public groups and much more.
(Screenshot from Yammer website)
Created by Salesforce, Chatter can help employees share knowledge, track projects, collaborate and ultimately stay connected whenever and from wherever. Take a look here to find out more.
(Screenshot from Chatter website)
The most recent and exciting development in enterprise social networks is Workplace. Created by Facebook, it aims to help you do work, without getting distracted by your friend’s holiday pictures, getting caught up in a chat or coming across adverts. You therefore have a separate log-in to your personal Facebook account. Employees can still enjoy many of the standard Facebook features, such as a newsfeed, groups, messages, events, Facebook Live, reactions and search. However, there are also some other features that have been specifically built for Workplace. These include a dashboard with analytics, shared spaces and much more.
(Screenshot from Workplace by Facebook website)
Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She is a Freelance Social Media Consultant with a number of years experience in the field. She has worked with a growing list of clients around the world, helping to build successful social media strategies, create effective content and much more. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Harmon.