Social Media for Managers

by Theresa Truscott

Social media tools for business

As social media tools are reaching new levels of sophistication, a new trend is emerging in the way businesses interact internally. Social tools are now being applied to enhance employee engagement, improve internal communication, promote team camaraderie, communicate on a global scale and create internal touch points that were previously unavailable.

It is now commonly accepted that these once misunderstood and often overlooked tools are creating efficiencies, inspiring innovation, promoting information sharing, and fostering an extremely high level of effective cross-functional communication for those businesses that have the savvy and vision to utilise them.

Effective internal communication is one thing that can’t be compromised when striving for a happy and effective workforce that directly relates to the long-term success of a business. Creating the ability to share knowledge, expertise, thoughts, and innovation in an efficient, consumable and targeted manner is helping businesses better manage their internal relationships, build a culture of thought leadership, and create an atmosphere of voracious learning.

The internal use of social media tools is breaking down the traditional upward, downward and horizontal communication barriers that existed inter and intra-departmentally, and creating deeper and more rewarding relationships top-down. Although some barriers to entry still exist (slow to adopt, security concerns, senior management apathy, fear of technology), the positive measurable impact of utilising these innovative communication platforms far outweighs the perceived costs.

A selection of social media tools

So what are some of the tools out there that a business can capitalise on internally? Below are a few.

SharePoint

Sharepoint is a high-end business collaboration tool created by Microsoft that is placed on a business’ server. It advertises features for document sharing, task management, wikis, blogs and other business automation tools. All of this can be accessed by a single intranet that a business can create and organise by departments, groups and so on.

Yammer

Yammer is a micro-blogging service that can be considered the enterprise version of Twitter. Yammer focuses on businesses, and only individuals with the same email domain can join a given network. David Sacks, founder of Yammer, simplifies it by stating, ‘If Twitter asks, “What are you doing?”, Yammer asks, “What are you working on?”.’ According to Greg Lowe, a social media architect for Alcatel-Lucent, they use Yammer to break down barriers between business units and employees around the world. The company now has 1,000 users on Yammer, with 200 posts a day, discussing subjects such as how they use their own products internally, corporate policies and cultural issues.

Digsby

Digsby is an instant messaging (IM) application that supports most mainstream IM protocols, such as AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber and Facebook Chat. Digsby also supports e-mail notifications and alerts from MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Spark

Spark is another instant messaging application that caters to businesses that desire internal communications to individuals and departments within the organisation. Features include instant messaging, file transfer and conferencing.

Other internal social media tools?

There are many social media tools and platforms, and they rise, and sometimes fall in popularity. Here are some others you may wish to look at...