Off late there has been a number of instances and research studies on the benefits of social media in organizations. Many leading websites have written about it. The emphasis has always been on the benefits for the management of the company and very little on the employees of the organization.
Never, it has been told from an employee perspective. One thing we need to remember is that the success of social media lies in creating and nurturing a sense of collective identity among employees.
This sense of collective identity does not gel with the hierarchal organizations. Hierarchal organizations depend on the foundations of command and control with minimum risk.
Social media usage demands flatter organizations with no or very little hierarchy.
The senior management does not want to allow all the information to be spilled out in the corporate social media site for obvious reasons. This aspect has been clearly mentioned in the article 'Why no one wants to use the corporate social network' from Harvard Business Review
. You can find the article here
Here in this article, I would like to bring out three important areas, which builds on each other for realizing the true benefits of social media in organizations from an employee perspective. It would be a win-win situation for both the employee and the management personnel alike.
Apart from mere community building (an oft-repeated benefit), the aspects of building social capital among employees, sharing the context around critical information and successive iteration of ideas cannot be understated. In fact, they are the three most important benefits for the effective use of social media in organizations.
Social capital is the bond that exists among employees. It exists unseen in a working relationship and cannot be forced.
Employees want to appear as hardworking and smart in front of their managers. They work in projects, to get the work done. In several situations, they are deputed or allocated to the projects as a resource. Such work situations can get the work done, no doubt, but only on a temporary basis. Long term success and continued progress in the achievements require special bonding among employees.
This bonding can be achieved through building social capital. Social media usage in organizations facilitates this bonding and provides a channel for building social capital naturally.
The second aspect, of providing context around critical information is often ignored by many. Context provides the human element to the information. For example, the information on 'How to' and 'know how' can rarely be found out on search engines. Furthermore, from an organization perspective, the aspects of 'What were the challenges', 'the pitfalls' and 'prior knowledge and expertise needed' are some of the golden nuggets, that context can provide to the information.
Perhaps, the biggest benefit of using social media in organizations comes from sharing the context of information. Context to information, where that information can be used by employees and they can immediately apply it in their working environments including a project or task at hand.
The third aspect is the area of successive iteration of ideas. Successive iteration of ideas can lead to greater insight. It is through collaboration among employees that successive iteration of ideas can happen. Social media usage in organizations facilitates such collaboration among employees. This tremendously helps in problem-solving. Successive iteration of ideas through collaboration leads to innovation. The senior management is happy and they can see the results.
As a fourth aspect, I would like to mention about employee advocacy. Employee advocacy is a relatively new concept but has caught up among global corporations.
Another important feature using social media in organizations is in the area of employee advocacy. Brand names, brand recognition, and brand endorsements are important for organizations all the time. They keep monitoring it. Employees can help them on brand endorsements and spread brand information through employee advocacy programs.
Employees are the brand ambassadors for the company. Social media in organizations can help them achieve that.