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It’s only when you see the figures that you realise just how social media has infiltrated our daily lives. According to a post at www.business2community.com, over 1.5billion people visit a social media site every day. What is interesting is how that article defines what people do on their visits:

  • review feeds
  • upload pictures
  • share stories
  • work towards common good

It’s the last statement that rather took us by surprise, but when you consider it, any reply to a post that is helpful could constitute working towards the common good. (Wikipedia is built on this assumption.) As Shelly Dutton, author of the article, suggests:
“Our ability to form, maintain, and break social bonds has now become a digital experience as we connect with others — some of whom we’ve never met — and rely on their advice, information, and support.”

Although a McKinsey study revealed that 70% of companies used social technology in one form or another, only 3% defined themselves as fully connected and reaping significant benefits. Dutton suggests four ways that social collaboration can help accrue those benefits.

  1. Closing sales deals faster as disparate members of the sales force can “engage with each other and create more compelling deals quickly and effectively.”
  2. Faster on-boarding for new employees, since “new hires can quickly connect with seasoned colleagues who can offer guidance and content that answers their questions.’
  3. A better customer experience, both through customer service teams accessing the full story before a call, and the ability to adapt and develop better ways of helping customers.
  4. Simplifying IT, such that “Providing a central location for social collaboration supports and improves existing business processes whether employees are in the field or dispersed across 12 time zones.”

Whilst it provides four desirable business outcomes, the article doesn’t return to that question of “the common good”. The suggestion that people really do want to help, given the opportunity, is born out in an article in Relocate Magazine. Citing the Humanising the Enterprise study, it was found that 58% of the UK “knowledge” workers surveyed identified the loss of access to social media actually inhibited their ability to collaborate. What’s more the Millennials (those born from the 1980s to the early 2000s) have grown up using digital technologies, and the benefits of an always-connected lifestyle.

Such frustration, the article suggests is a major potential risk. “Employees across the age spectrum are striving to find new ways of working and collaborating. It’s up to the enterprise to enable this through technology. If they don’t, employees will simply circumvent enterprise tools and use consumer applications instead, leaving you open to security risk and even worse, the fundamental loss of productivity.”

That’s why at TalkFreely we have developed our Ideas Network to offer the same opportunities for cooperation, collaboration and idea development as social media, but to take it to a business level. Through our intuitive online interface, which looks and feels very familiar to social media users, all collaborative interaction can be secure, discreetly managed, and given the support it needs to turn ideas into deliverable reality.

As with the best innovations, sometimes it’s the adaption of one idea and its evolution into another use that brings out its full potential. That’s why a better way to communicate and collaborate within businesses could be the lasting legacy of social media, not posts about grumpy cats or tweets about celebs…