Ideas for how SMEs can use social media internally

“build a Wiki and crowdsource ideas”. It’s similar to Wikipedia. It involves the creation of an internet platform that enables managers and employees to add relevant information, and that information can then be edited and peer-reviewed.

Another idea is to “build an internal social network.” Employees can design their own profiles, upload images, provide useful links, add work-related content, and eventually “this will reduce the volume of email communication”. In an era of email overload, that can only be a good thing.

Other than this article spreading the usual FUD about social media in the workplace (here is an alternative view), this is pretty simplistic advice for SMEs thinking about trying to proactively utilise Web 2.0 and social software.

Even large businesses struggle with the idea of creating internal Wikipedias – small businesses simply don’t have the critical mass. However, there are some practical ideas (use cases) for enterprise wikis (like Atlassian Confluence):

  • Managing Meetings.
  • Project Management. 
  • Reporting.
  • Document Drafting and Commenting.
  • Publishing and Maintaining Policies and Procedures.

With some tools you can even build simple forms and workflows, although the emphasis is really on uisng a wiki as a lean management tool.

The internal network is a better idea, but in a small business they don’t necessarily need to know who each other is but rather what each person is doing and using streamlined methods for sharing information. Microblogging tools – like Yammer – or even instant messaging – using tools like Skype chat – can fill that need. Better yet, these tools are often optimised for smartphones too and younger staff will love using them.

With the right tool, some or all of these ideas above can be combined. For example, Google Apps.

The key themes that small business should be thinking about using social media internally for are:

  1. Communication. 
  2. Team work. 
  3. Productivity. 
  4. Information management.

For SME’s with a consumer focus, they might also want to think about how the internal use of social media can connect to their external social media and traditional marketing activities. SMEs focused on B2B services can also create extranet wikis for collaboration with their business customers or even extend their microblogging tool to them, focusing on creating an extended private social network rather than an internal one.

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