Today, meeting people does not only mean asking for their numbers. It becomes a necessity to ask for their Facebook pages and viewing their Twitter accounts. If it is a professional correspondence, you may have to find them on LinkedIn to check their professional life.
Social media has invaded modern life and anyone not on any of the big three platform is practically unknown. Although long overdue, businesses are finally embracing social media as the new platform to make them known.
However, businesses are now beginning to see social media in a new light. Are social media websites the next collaboration tools?
Businesses on Social Media
Many businesses view social media as an extension of their marketing mix, customer service, and contact portal. Facebook and Twitter become a cheap alternative to press conference. New products are announced real time and services, such as those in restaurants, are easily searchable. Departments stores with promos or clearance sale also utilize social media to gain attention. On the other hand, some companies see social media as a significant source of consumer data.
“Really savvy companies are using new software monitoring tools to search social media for discussions, comments, and complaints by customers and employees about their company and products and services,” says Karl Moore in his article on Forbes.
“In many cases, they get some great information that they use to improve their product or service, and sometimes they even contact people who complain to gather more details as indicative about how other customers might feel.”
Businesses are also taking advantage of the massive power of online collaboration. Take for example Linux. If you are not familiar with it, Linux is a platform where independent or groups of developers can use to create their own operation system without any cost.
OS made on top of Linux are getting popular nowadays. Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Red Hat are the most well known. Most of these collaborations are done over the Internet without the developers having to meet in person.
Collaboration on Social Media
You’ve probably heard of Web 2.0, which means everything you are accessing over the Internet now. Web 2.0 describes interactive online content, unlike static text-heavy websites during the 90’s.
Andrew McAfee saw the need to describe the effects of technology on businesses and coined the term ‘Enterprise 2.0″. Simply put, it is “synonymous with the integration of social media tools and services with the corporate intranet, extranet and business processes”.
A good example is Beehive. IBM has been using an internal social and collaborative network since mid-2007. Beehive is not unlike a typical Facebook page. Employees can edit their bio page, add photos, and connect with other IBM employees around the world.
Employees have found ways to creatively use Beehive in their professional life. Employees who have met colleagues at conferences or are working between different departments use Beehive to stay connected and to get to know each other.
Also, ideas inside IBM can be posted on the social platform and gain support. They can also ask others to brainstorm and suggest ways to complete a problem. Lastly, Beehive became an effective way for the executives of the company to communicate with their employees.
In traditional communication channels, employees don’t even get to talk with their bosses. On Beehive, they can share ideas and get career advice straight from the ones on the top. IBM Beehive is a perfect example of an internal social network where employees can build professional relationship, interact and cultivate ideas.
Using Social Media as Collaboration Tool
Small and medium teams need not apply for separate team productivity apps. Facebook can provide a working space small to medium-sized teams with several projects in development. By creatively using hashtags, groups, and nametags, Facebook becomes a powerful tool to organize ideas and tasks between members.
Teams can create exclusive groups where they can work. Instead of creating a group per project, which can be unwieldy and confusing especially for project managers, the whole team can be included in one group. Here’s where hashtags play their part.
Tasks can be assigned to a member or multiple members by tagging their name. To identify a specific project or a specific version of their product, hashtags can be used such as “#webdevproject” or “#productVer2″. By using the same hashtags for the same projects, it will be easier to filter them later using the search function of the group.
The comments section can then be used to discuss ideas, post versions of the project and brainstorm. Since all members of the team are in the same group, those involve in other projects can still weigh in and share their thoughts. Also, general project guidelines, to-do lists and other reminders can be pinned on top of the news feed for everyone to see.
For teams and companies with strong relationships with their customers, they can share early versions of their products from their exclusive groups straight to their news feed. Through increasing views and unique hashtags, marketing is easier and cheaper.
About The Guest Author: Kimberly Grimms is a futurist who spends most of her time monitoring social behavior in search for new consumer trends. She’s currently a contributor for Social Media Today, Tweak Your Biz, and Dashburst.
Two Groups Meeting Photo via Shutterstock