The Benefits of Social Media in the B2B Workplace

It’s been long thought that social media is a major time suck, causing many B2B companies – small to enterprise – to ban social media sites from their offices. Employees can no longer check Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or even LinkedIn in these cases, causing them to be disconnected from their personal networks.

This is meant to be a good thing. But is it?

Sure, if your employees are spending all their time on Facebook playing Mafia Wars or Farmville and not getting any actual work done, it’s a good idea to not allow them to access that site at work. However, there is a lot to be said about social media websites and tools for effective team building, communication and collaboration, and we should all be aware of these benefits.

Increased Channels of Communication
It’s true that in business, there are a handful of communication channels, including meetings, phone calls and emails. But how effective are these? Sometimes things get forgotten from meetings and phone calls, and looking for information in a sea of email can be a bit challenging after a while. By using social media websites and tools, you are increasing the channels of communication you can use, but also their effectiveness. Just think how easy it is to send someone a tweet or instant message and get their response right away. Now you don’t need to wait hours for an answer to that question, and can get your work done more efficiently and effectively.

More Collaboration = Better Outcome
It’s been said that two heads are better than one. So then three heads are even better, right? When you encourage your team to collaborate on projects and their workload together, the outcome will be greater than what an individual could have created. By using social media tools, you are allowing your people to generate and share ideas, to offer feedback on tasks and documents, and to hold a piece of the project and business success.

Staying in Touch With Thought Leaders
When communicating and collaborating with teammates, you will be increasing the overall effectiveness of your team. So it makes sense that increasing the reach of your professional communication and collaboration can increase the overall effectiveness of your business, right? If your team already has connections built with their own social profiles, allow them to leverage their networks for your professional gain. They can communicate and collaborate with thought leaders in your industry, stay up to date on the latest news and connect with these people to bounce ideas off of them. These connections with others will help your people, and thus, help your business.

Familiarity Breeds Easy Integration
The people in your business are most likely familiar with these social media tools anyway, so why not use this familiarity to increase the ease of integration of these tools? They will know the basics of communicating online, and can help others learn how to use social media tools for collaboration as well.

And if you’re worried too much about increased outside chatter and conversations having nothing to do with work, then by all means don’t allow popular social sites like Twitter and Facebook in your office. But don’t hinder communication and collaboration either.

Find a team collaboration solution that integrates social networking communication features to increase communication, collaboration and team productivity. The benefits to these types of solutions are substantial, and can effectively increase your business success.

Dana Larson is the Marketing Manager at OnePlace and she blogs regularly about business, collaboration and productivity solutions. You can reach Dana at dana.larson at oneplacehome dot com.

Comments

  1. says

    Very interesting article indeed. However, I absolutely don’t agree to the following points: Increased Channels of Communication and More Collaboration = Better Outcome. Using Social Media. The corporate data is highly confidential, exchanges need to be kept in a close loop, and SHOULD not be exposed to your friends and family outside of your professional network. Using AIM or an internal chat messenger is a good idea, but that still doesn’t help archive conversations.

    I’d recommend using Google Wave as a collaboration platform rather than twitter or Facebook. Staying in touch with experts and thought leaders while you work may be OK, but not the best idea. It helps to do this kind of work during the off hours. Reading up new updates from experts while you work may end up creating a loop for the employee. You end up reading tons of stuff, and “related articles”. I’d suggests one bookmarks interesting pages and visits them back during their non productive hours.

    Blocking SM sites from official networks may or may not be the best idea, depending on the work profile and environment. We @ InsideView don’t have a policy to block sites. The company thankfully leaves it to our discretion to be productive. My take is that SM stuff should be blocked for certain user logins, and not blocked for others. This may not sound as scaleable, but it helps keep the boundaries clear, and people productive.

    On a related note, I talk about how Social Media is helping organizations connect better with their prospects: http://bit.ly/cLwKjZ

    I also wrote about Sales 2.0 reorganizing the Social CRM space in my post: http://bit.ly/c8lvma

  2. says

    Productivity in the workplace can be hindered but also heightened depending on the usage of the application. Companies choose to block or not block social media apps. Unfortunately they are missing out on that grey area where social media apps can be utilized to further inovation and productivity. Palo Alto Networks came out with this whitepaper talking about how to block social media apps and when it is appropriate to let employees utilize these apps productivly. To block or not? Check it out: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp

  3. Alastair says

    Good article about social media at a high level.
    If a company has an issue with people accessing sites at work then it has a problem with its staff not the distractions that spoils the day.
    This is more of a management issue.
    We have used more links on a number of our sites and found they take up and integration interesting but slow.
    Thanks

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