Employees on social media: It’s good for business
While social media tools like Twitter® and Facebook® can be used to influence consumers, social media also has the power to win the hearts and minds of people on the inside of an organization. "Social media helps employees collaborate together in a way that can literally transform an organization from the bottom up," explains S. Mark Barnes, faculty member in the University of Phoenix School of Business. "And that kind of collaboration is changing the way corporate America does business."
So how exactly does social media function within a company? It’s simple; by using applications such as Yammer and Microsoft® SharePoint®, businesses can develop their own internal social media sites or intranets similar to Facebook or LinkedIn® that empower employees to brainstorm, share information and help solve problems.
According to Barnes, this form of open online communication is dismantling the old school hierarchies that existed in traditional corporations, which prevented people within an organization from communicating across departments. "Because of social media, high level executives are able to hear what employees are thinking in an atmosphere that they wouldn't normally access," says Barnes. "And people at the entry-level rungs in a corporation have the ability to have their voices heard by upper level management."
Barnes, who is also a highly skilled trial attorney for the IRS, has seen how collaboration through social media can help foster healthy "mentoring" relationships within an organization.
"In large corporations, you had people working all over the country who were never talking to one another," explains Barnes. "Now, with social media, suddenly you have hundreds or even thousands of co-workers who are sources of information that can help solve your problems or give timely advice."
Open communication can also shine a much-needed light on the hidden skill sets of specific employees within a larger corporation. Barnes explains how companies are creating internal sites similar to LinkedIn, where people are posting descriptions about their work history, interests and specific skills sets. "If a manager can see a detailed history of an employee," says Barnes, "and discover an expertise in a specific area, such as a foreign language, it’s going to be much easier to match an employee to a project to which they are best suited."
As School of Business Community Manager for PhoenixConnect® — the social media site for University of Phoenix, where students, alumni and faculty can all share and post information — Barnes is not just talking the talk of social media; he’s seen firsthand results of what social media collaboration can do for an organization. "If students have a problem with a certain math course for example, we’re going to find out about it right away on PhoenixConnect," he says.
And for many forward-thinking organizations, social media collaboration is helping to improve best practices and to better serve the needs of the workforce, one collective voice at a time.
Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter Inc.
Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
LinkedIn is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corp.
SharePoint is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
PhoenixConnect is a registered trademark of Apollo Group Inc.