The term “Social media” inherently comes with a problem – it’s called “social” media and so some people dismiss it as a tool that can help people become more productive at work. However, work IS social – it’s just social in a subtly different way to our lives outside work. The one thing that employees have in common is their employer – so conversations about seemingly trivial things may well evolve into something much more valuable to the business.

There are also many flavours of social media  — from a Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile through to a specialist forum bringing together expertise, providers, customers and anyone with a passing interest.

Precisely because it’s so hard to pin down, the place of social media in organisations remains so variable. However, McKinsey research shows that 72 per cent of companies surveyed used social technologies in their business and 90 per cent of those reported seeing business benefits.

Dr Nicola Millard, BT’s Customer Experience Futurologist, believes one of the big strengths of social collaboration platforms is their combination of communication with content. Collaboration on social media is very different to collaboration on the phone, email or instant messaging. To collaborate using those tools, you need to know who to collaborate with – with social media, you put the issue out there and people who you may not know who potentially have the answer come to you!

The benefits of social media tend to come to the individual first – a social network of one is useless, so content gets richer as the number of active users increase. But to get to this point requires enterprises to encourage openness, collaboration and also reward contribution. They also need to integrate social media into the complete toolkit for collaboration rather than having it as a “nice to have” bolt on.

Is it time to put the power of the hashtag to use in your business?

Click here to unearth more expertise and find out how to get the most out of social media from Dr Millard’s latest work shift paper.


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