Saturday, 12 July 2008

Are you missing out on a social network opportunity?

social sheep
The BBC report that Gartner have announced that many businesses are failing to embrace the "huge" opportunities of social networks.

The point of the article, however, is for once not about trying to market via social networks, but about how firms can understand and embrace how their staff engage via social networks to make efficiency savings and improve communications within their business.

But the opportunity goes further. Open-minded businesses can help be involved as staff build tighter communities in their organisations, places where they can share and innovate, in really constructive ways that are so fluid that staff will not even realise they are doing it.

So you get innovation.
And honesty.
And communication.
And community.
Which gives stronger loyalty and almost without doubt, numbers that hit the bottom line and therefore please the men in grey suits in finance, too..

Of course, this will not happen on its own, but an open-minded business can use social networks to truly engage with it's staff to ask questions and embrace collaboration, understand (and then potentially counter) areas of distrust or disenchantment and, in a broader sense, start to show the external world how they are listening to issues and feedback internally.

Its not just about listening, or even throwing sheep - careful use of tools like LinkedIn enable individuals and businesses to use the power of referral and networks of contacts, resulting in richer relationships and ultimately, better business with shorter lead times.

We all like to be heard and social networks enable ALL of us to share our innermost (or shallowest!) thoughts with our friends and peers.

Whether a business likes it or not, its staff, stakeholders and clients WILL be talking about it online, somewhere. So it is best to, at the very least, open an ear to what is going on and try to understand. If the business can engage, then there are potential riches that are otherwise almost certainly out of reach in this new, open World.

Picture credit Powi

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