Factors driving the adoption of social media by businesses may range from short term value add to long term strategic view. Though the new media has proved to be a powerful tool for marketers, businesses leading the adoption wave are infusing the use of social media into other areas of business to realize its potential.
In a study conducted by Forrester Consulting, companies were asked about activities where they were currently using social technology. More than half of the companies reported to be using social media for marketing purposes. This was followed by Customer support related activities, organising online meetings, internal communication and enabling more effective work among geographically dispersed teams.
If we begin to group activities where we believe social media can deliver value, ignoring the much obvious marketing related activities, we can converge on 5 key impact areas:

  1. Communication
  2. Productivity
  3. Innovation
  4. Human Resource
  5. Knowledge Management

Communication

Most of the business related communication has been done mostly via mails, until recently. Enterprise social networking tools such as Yammer pave way to new informal modes of communication. A change which is much welcomed by all, employees feel more open to sharing and participating in a conversation with all the formal nitty-gritty out of their way.

  • Creates an organisation that is OPEN and TRANSPARENT
  • News and other updates become available to all stakeholders in real time
  • Empowers employees by helping them voice their opinion and thoughts on organisational matters
  • Helps build trust and relationship within organisation

Productivity

  • Knowledge workers spend a great deal of their time looking for data. Since 25-50% of an organisation’s workforce is involved in knowledge based collaboration, the productivity increase that social technology offers becomes important
  • Offers ease of tracking projects, team progress or following the general conversations around the project
  • Unlike point to point communication, social media platforms make way for people to join in on the conversation at any time and stay updated on the happening right from the very start

Innovation

We know that “Group thinking can outperform a solitary genius”. With people collaborating on ideas, innovation appears to manifest just as an outcome.

  • As organisations continue to put their heads to identifying new business opportunities, they look towards “innovation” as a means to creating such opportunities.
  • Social media encourages employees to cultivate and share ideas, tapping into the collective wisdom, creating a successful intra-preneurship environment that drives new business to the organisation.

Human Resource

General Mills reported that the departure of one of their top level marketing manager could cost them millions of dollars owing to loss of critical marketing and client knowledge. At a much broader level, the cost of hiring an employee to fill up a vacancy, the lost productivity and the time invested in training and knowledge transfer can run up to 30%-150% of an employee’s salary. Institutions are looking at social networking as a means to source potential future employees.

  • Social recruitment. Identifying and hiring suitable candidates based on peer recommendations has become very common. 
  • Job seekers actively scout several of the company’s online presences to look for suitable opportunities and to understand their culture and values
  • In a move to reduce attrition, companies try to engage with their employees directly inorder to ensure that they are having a wonderful time while working for them and to address any needs or concerns that they might have.

Knowledge Management

Most of the useful information that flows through an organisation barely gets captured or shared broadly by its employees. As a result, the organisation loses the opportunity to create value from the massive amount of knowledge and information that has been shared by its employees. With effective channelling of the online conversation, organisations can hope to derive as well as deliver value to its employees.
 
Social media will evolve from here and touch every aspect of a business. In the near future, it may not be seen as an independent activity and may very well be an essential part of any organisation.
-Prashanth Pattabiraman

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