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Discussions about social media usually focus on the external uses to which it can be put, on the conversations with customers and business partners, and on the building of an online brand through personal interaction. Less is said about the benefits of internal social media networks, which facilitate internal collaboration and bring different parts of a business closer together. Yet here lies one of social media’s biggest benefits.
Organisations thrive on having talented, knowledgeable and creative people, yet all too often they work in disparate parts of a business, operating in silos where their creative energy is focused on one small element of a company’s broader strategy. Bringing those people together, giving them a forum in which to communicate and share their ideas, enables an organisation to tap into the full power of the creative energy it possesses.
The use of social media is primarily about building networks, but often it is focused on external networks of customers and business partners. This is certainly desirable, but building networks within an organisation is just as fruitful. A company that divides up its employees by skill set can benefit from linking people throughout the business that share other affinities such as personality, interests or secondary talents. The result is a more cohesive organisation with more engaged employees.
Through these internal networks, companies can greatly improve their internal branding by encouraging broader discussion of its strategic goals, communicating its vision throughout the business and through the walls of departmental silos. As a result, employees better understand the company’s strategy and can more readily define their role in delivering it.
Putting such networks in place creates fertile ground for new ideas, and the best ideas tend to stem from the entire organisation, not just one desk. Harnessing the creativity and knowledge across an entire business often leads to innovations – be they large or small – that steer a company closer towards its strategic goals. Employees know the business and with a clear understanding of strategy they can bring valuable new ideas to the table.
Furthermore, an internal social media strategy can have a beneficial effect on external social media strategy as it provides a proving ground in which to test ideas, develop policies and bring employees up to speed with the technology.
If employees are like individual neurons in the brain, then internal social media connects them to get their creative ideas flowing.