Our Love-Hate Relationship With Enterprise Social Networking

In honor of Valentine's Day, we offer 10 things to love about social networking in the enterprise, and 10 things that are leaving businesses cold. (In some cases, they are one and the same.)

Debra Donston-Miller

February 14, 2012

4 Min Read
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10 Leading Enterprise Social Network Platforms

Facebook Apps In Action (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Social networking is a relatively new thing for most enterprises. And like most new relationships, we keep discovering things we love and things we hate about our new partner. Here are some examples of both, and I'm sure you have a few to add yourself. So jump in and add to the list in the comments section below.

10 Things To Love

1. Increased levels of collaboration: The use of internal and external social networks has opened up new lines and levels of communication and collaboration for many businesses.

2. Flatter hierarchies, more opportunities: If anyone from the company can be the "friends" with the CEO, anyone's ideas can go straight to the top.

3. New customer service channels: Savvy use of Facebook, Twitter, and other networks has enabled companies to provide internal and external customer support in new, and often less costly, ways.

4. Closer relationships with customers: Through the use of social networks, companies are able to engage more closely with customers and hear--often in real time--exactly what they like and don't like.

5. Free marketing: You can pay to market your products and business on public social networks, but there are lots of very effective things companies can do for free.

[ Looking for a list of the world's movers and shakers? Check Facebook: The Database Of Wealth And Power. ]

6. Increased website traffic: Social networks provide new pathways for promoting Web content.

7. Increased sales: What's not to love about increased sales? Companies are making use of social networks to promote products and leverage positive customer reviews and comments in ways that are driving sales.

8. Data, data, data: There are volumes of data generated from social networking activities, and that data can be effectively mined to make sound, informed business decisions moving forward.

9. New levels of customization: Companies are taking advantage of new apps and development tools to make their social network presence rival any website.

10. Uncharted territory: Business social networking is still largely uncharted territory, and virtually anything is possible.

10 Smart Enterprise Uses For Twitter

10 Smart Enterprise Uses For Twitter

10 Smart Enterprise Uses For Twitter (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

10 Things To Hate

1. Security and privacy risks: Social networks have opened up new security and privacy risks for organizations and their customers.

2. Loss of productivity: While there is much to be gained from social networking in the enterprise, there is also much to be lost--namely, productivity, as employees make use of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for less-than-businesslike reasons in the workplace.

3. Loss of control: As companies come to depend more and more on public social networks for marketing, customer service, and other business-critical tasks, they are becoming increasingly challenged by changes to the networks that come fast, furious, and often without warning.

4. Message mismanagement: Social networking gives voice to anyone who has the wherewithal to create an account. But more people talking up your company isn't necessarily a good thing when the message isn't the one you want to convey.

5. Resource hogging: Internal and external social networking does provide some efficiencies for companies, but effective management requires what can be significant staff resources.

[ Too much information can sink ships--or careers. Help Your Business Avoid Social TMI. ]

6. Customer distraction: People are being bombarded with places to go and things to see online. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Tweets, likes, contests, videos, updates, photos...There is an increasingly big battle for customer attention.

7. Culture shock: While many customers have gladly gotten onboard the social bus, there are many who view social networking with suspicion and/or disdain. Companies are finding this same dichotomy internally, as they roll out social business tools to their employees. Effectively connecting with camps on both sides of the social networking line is a big challenge.

8. Policy overhauls: Even companies that are not currently making wide use of internal or external social networking need to develop policy around acceptable use. This process can be difficult for resource-strapped companies, especially since the goals and the social networking "rules" often seem to be in a constant state of flux.

9. Data, data, data: While the volumes of data generated by social networking activity can be a good thing, it can be overwhelming at best and useless at worst without the right tools to make sense of it. These tools can be costly (although there are many free options out there) and the results sometimes difficult to decipher or effectively apply.

10. Uncharted territory: Business social networking is still largely uncharted territory, and virtually anything is possible.

Social media are generating tons of data, but that data only becomes truly valuable when examined in context. Attend the virtual Enterprise 2.0 event Social Analytics: The Bridge To Business Value, and learn how social analytics will provide the bridge to unlocking business value. It happens Feb. 16.

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