According to Facebook’s self-stated statistics, more than 128 million of their users who visit Facebook daily reside in the United States (U.S.), with more than 1 billion total users around the world. The U.S. just Census data indicates that as of July 4, 2012 the American population reached just over 316 million people. Therefore, close to half of U.S. residents access Facebook on a daily basis. While these statistics specifically illustrate the adoption of the Facebook forum, they also more broadly indicate that this format is comfortable and readily adoptable by a significant segment of the population. People like communicating with each other and sharing information with each other on this platform. Therefore, consider how powerful it would be to adopt this communication platform for use within your organization.
Many companies in this day and age have implemented intranets to distribute and house business and employee information: rules and regulations, programs, forms, organizational charts. However, most intranets essentially are information repositories, file servers that are accessible online. Like most file servers, the method in which files are saved aligns with the thought process of the individual setting up the file folders. It’s not intuitive to everyone, and frustration by users often leads to lack of continued use. In other words, intranets are helpful in theory, but in practice even the most well considered, well planned intranets are rarely seen as the first access point for needed information. It’s just easier to ask a colleague!
Private social networks, for companies, close the gap between interpersonal interaction and rigid intranet portals. They provide an online platform that can house static data – hard files and pure content – while also enabling fluid interaction and rapid updates, all in a forum that is comfortable to a broad segment of employees. Many providers of private social networks have deliberately designed their online architecture to mimic that of Facebook, in order to increase adoption and speed up the learning process.
The business potential endemic to a private social network is almost limitless. As an internal tool, it can be used to support employee onboarding, disseminate training, share and develop best practices, promote positive internal competition as well as engage staff, particularly when employees are distributed across several wide ranging locations. Companies might also establish a publicly accessible private social network to encourage shared communication between customers with like interests, promote cooperation on business improvements, distribute new product or service releases and create an open forum for greater client-vendor partnership. Additionally, a well-promoted, publicly accessible private social network could provide a forum for interaction among experts and interested individuals on key industry topics, allowing a company to establish a reputation for facilitating expertise and connecting the company to potential advisors or future employees.
As with any tool or service, a private social network is not a “magic bullet” that will resolve all communication and information sharing challenges within an organization. However, the online accessibility and familiar format, in addition to ease of implementation and adoption, grant private social networks practically limitless potential to support businesses internally and externally and therefore make them an almost invaluable investment. If you’re interested in learning more about how a private social network might support your organization, what the cost might be and how easy it is to get started, reach out to our own Paul Wills at firstname.lastname@example.org.