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Inside Enterprise Social Networking

Enterprise social networking is one of the newer buzzwords out in the industry. Don’t worry if you haven’t quite jumped on the band wagon yet as it is always good to consider an idea and its implications for your work environment before diving in headfirst.

As social media has developed, many companies purposely kept social platforms separate from their essential business partially because of not understanding how to utilize it best and partially because it represents a very different way of working. Now as it is fairly apparent that the social world isn’t going away, it is time to embrace the concept of enterprise social networking to facilitate a more functional workplace.

Deloitte forecasted last year that by the beginning of 2014 almost all of the Fortune 500 companies would have a partially or fully implemented ESN. That alone is a fairly good endorsement for whether or not your company should utilize the concept.

Let’s start with a basic overview of what exactly enterprise social networks are.

What is ESN?

In a nutshell, enterprise social networking is the creation of an online community for people such as your employees, business partners and clients to utilize as a communication tool. Ideally the network will help these core people engage in conversations surrounding general business aspects such as questions, status updates, new products or even progress reports.

Much like any social network there will be public and private messages, community forums and a place for real time updates. Many large companies in the tech industry utilize ESNs to allow customers to post problems and ideas. Think of a basic version of Facebook for your business minus the ads for games and products.

Ideally social media can be used to connect with workers, partners and customers using a method of communication that more and more people are moving to. Consider for a minute how many millions of people use or used Facebook exclusively for messaging friends rather than sending direct texts. Why send an email to customer service when instead you can post a problem on a social network where not only the business, but also other customers might be able to provide an answer?

Benefits of ESN

There are quite a few reasons to consider using this tool:

  • Talent Sifter – There are certain people in every company that have acquired a lot of knowledge or have great ideas yet are not yet major contributors. Sometimes these hidden gems are just waiting to be given the chance to shine. This social network method provides an additional way to find talented people already in your company.
  • Improve Communication – Social sharing can help encourage more collaboration between individuals, teams and departments. Creating a culture that embraces concepts of team problem solving and group oriented work is a benefit to any business.
  • Empower Employees – Not everyone is vocal in meetings or in front of other people because of fears about public speaking. This forum allows people to feel more at ease to express opinions and responses to problems because enterprise social networks tend to ignore the formal business communication process and hierarchical differences.
  • Increase Efficiency – Having questions and discussions posted online creates more efficiency because discussions can take place remotely and problems can be solved by individuals that are multi-tasking. The larger the company, the more the benefit will be noticed from that time saved walking or traveling to get an answer or relay a problem to someone else. For example, if Ken is the go-to person for questions about X but he is out in the afternoon, posting the question might yield an answer from Mary or Tom who also have a lot of experience with X rather than waiting for Ken to return.
  • Improve Satisfaction – Depending on the type of network you set up, this can be an outlet for clients, vendors, or both to have issues resolved quickly which increases satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of benefits to using an enterprise social network. Unlike other social media networks such as Facebook, ESN’s like Jive or Tibbr don’t have the time-wasting aspects but still work on a comfortable interface that people are familiar with. For those businesses that want to give employees a sense of online community and help create connections between co-workers, departments, vendors and the like then enterprise social networking might just be the thing your company needs.



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