5 Reasons to Do Social Media Inside the Enterprise

By Ethan Yarbrough posted 09-20-2010 17:04


What are 5 Reasons a company should employ social media tools behind their firewall?

That was the question I used to frame my remarks at the Microsoft Alumni Network/Social Media Club Seattle social media seminar last Thursday night. I co-presented with Jeff Shuey who blogs here in the Capture Community. I had the easy part of the presentation, just addressing "why" a company would do it. Jeff tackled the "How", drawing on his experiences during his company's attempt to implement internal social media. 

Social media success inside the company isn't a slam dunk. I hope Jeff will add some of his remarks to this post, but until then, here's what I said.

5 Reasons to Do Social Media Inside the Enterprise

1. Dismantle the Society of Strangers -- When people come to work for us, too often we put them into boxes on the org chart and don't give them tools or opportunities to discover other people in the organization who might be relevant to them. Relevant either because of experience, or knowledge or interests. Over time, pockets of homogenous experience form. And when people can't find each other, the same problems get solved multiple times, the same wheels keep getting invented. And over time, innovation and productivity suffers. Helping your employees discover people, helps them discover knowledge.

2. The Network Is the New Power Structure -- Think about how you learn about things outside of the work environment. If you're using Twitter or Facebook personally, you've experienced the way your awareness is constructed for you as information flows to you from all your network connections. It's the lazy web: what is relevant finds you. That obviously has business application and a lot of us use Twitter as a research tool that way. I do: I log on in the morning and get smarter because of all the links my network is sharing. That kind of connectedness can also be created for employees behind the corporate firewall. And better connections mean faster solutions, better innovation, more efficient discovery of information. That improves the company's financial position.

3. Relationships Are Key to ROI on Employee Investment -- Companies invest so much money in employee development. They want to get a return on that investment. If employees stay, they get more efficient, they produce, the company gets a return on investment. If employees leave, the investment is lost. So what makes employees stay? According to's survey, the number one reason employees cite for why they stay is good relationships with peers. Social media tools help employees forge those relationships, help them find and share similar interest and build the trust they need to be able to collaborate well.

4. Social Is a Business Tool --

  • 60% --> the amount of time the average worker spends being social (collaborating) in pursuit of goals (Dion Hinchcliffe)
  • 40% --> Amount of a creative team's productivity MIT researchers found to be directly attributable to social interaction (MIT)
  • 7% --> Average productivity increase among employees with extensive digital networks (MIT)
  • 30% --> Average productivity increase among employees with extensive face-to-face networks (MIT)
  • 20% --> Average increase in employee satisfaction among companies that implemented social media tools (McKinsey)

5. Employee Experience Becomes Customer Experience -- You can't discount the importance to employee experience of giving employees the tools they want and need to get their work done. There's a reason "Do I have the materials and equipment to do my work right" is one of the Gallup 12 Questions for measuring employee satisfaction. A good employee experience is important to your company's ability to deliver a good customer experience. And a good customer experience can help your company increase revenues. Still, companies sometimes think social tools are frivolous. They overlook the fact that employees use these tools outside of work and have developed communication patterns, knowledge discovery and network-building habits using them that they want to be able to use at work. When they are denied the tools they either get work done despite the lack of them, but far less efficiently. Or they use social media tools that aren't sanctioned by the business, and that is a risk.

So that's it. That's what I covered in my presentation. If you've been following this blog for a while, you've probably heard me say these kinds of things before. But never all in one place!

Anything you would add or take issue with?

#productivity #microsoft #employeesatisfaction #socialmedia #retention