Newsletter: Social networking – work or play?

Ask most people if they’re allowed to use social media at work they’ll probably tell you they either can’t or they’re not supposed to. Recent research shows more than two-thirds of companies have restricted access to social media and 40% of those completely block social networking sites. That same research also says only 33% of people use networking sites at work and two in three workers think companies are right to ban social media, which all begs the question: does it really matter? The stark facts about social media suggest those not involved are missing out on something big. Facebook adds 1.5m pieces of new content each and every day while LinkedIn garners a new member every second. With numbers like that it’s clear these sites have some value. But while the potential of social media as a marketing tool has long been established, there are growing voices arguing for its use to enhance internal communications. “Internal social media is the second wave,” said Cisco’s Andrew Warden, Head of Strategy, Emerging Markets Services, speaking at this year’s Corporate Social Media Summit.

“The future of work is communities.” Warden argued not only is social media a viable internal communications tool now, but it will become the essential one companies use moving forward. And he’s not alone. Senior figures in such major diverse brands as Alcatel-Lucent, Rip Curl and Xerox have all expounded on how they use social media to enhance their work. While most will be familiar with the big three – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – the options available to companies extend far beyond them so we’ve taken a look at five of the alternatives and what they can offer: YouTube – It may be surprising to learn YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. In amongst the skateboarding dogs and piano-playing cats, it has developed into one of the most valuable learning resources on the planet. More than eight years’ worth of video is uploaded to the site every day, meaning it has thousands of hours of valuable resources no matter what you’re looking for. Yammer – The microblogging site can be seen as a business version of Twitter. Founder David Sacks explains: “If Twitter asks ‘What are you doing?’, Yammer asks, ‘What are you working on?’. Only emails with the company domain can join, ensuring everything stays in house, and fans praise the way it has helped break down barriers from top to bottom and create cohesive, collaborative communication between colleagues. Skype – The Luxembourg-based, Microsoft-owned, VoIP software company is an excellent option for those who need to communicate in visual medium, especially teams spread far apart. Through free video conferencing companies can show things it might be difficult to explain in words and it’s a good option for those who prefer to work face-to-face but don’t want to have to fly around the world for the privilege. Google+ – Launched in June 2011, Google+ (or G+) is Google’s latest attempt to muscle in on the social media market, and the early buzz is it may stand a chance against the established players in the market. With innovative new tools such as Circles and Hangout it offers something different to what’s currently on offer and with a reported 18m members in less than a month of operation it is quickly becoming a force in the social media arena. Wiki – Useful social media doesn’t have to be something where people communicate directly. Wikis are collaborative sites containing multiple interlinked pages which can be edited by all users; the most famous of course being Wikipedia. These are ideal for people working on co-operative projects who need readily accessible information kept as up-to-date as possible. The above are just a few examples of the myriad of social media possibilities available to companies. If you’re interested in developing the way your company interacts, KnowledgePool can help you find the ideal solution that best fits your needs. Through our network of industry-leading experts we can successfully assess your specific needs and introduce a programme which opens up your company’s communications potential, helping you to create a collaborative atmosphere where ideas drive the organisation forward. For more information on how KnowledgePool can develop your company’s social media usage, contact us.