Enterprise Social Media describes a collection of Web 2.0 tools that have succeeded for personal use and are being applied in enterprises to achieve real business benefits.

Tools like blogs, wikis, social networking, forums, discussion groups, tagging, rating systems, bookmarking and RSS are already being used successfully by large corporations. Using these tools the Enterprise is able to leverage the power of user-generated content to create on-line communities that connect employees, customers, prospects, and partners. Major corporations such as McDonald’s, Kodak, the New York Times, Northwestern Mutual, and Cannondale Bicycle Corp. use Social Media tools to improve employee communication and collaboration, drive new forms of revenue and channels, conduct market research, and create a “corporate memory.”

Enterprise Social Media is being used to create online communities in three major ways:

  • Internally, among employees, to increase engagement, communication, and efficiency as well as capture knowledge
  • Externally, among customers, prospects, and partners, to increase revenues and loyalty while reducing sales and support costs.
  • Internally and externally, to connect employees, customers, prospects and partners. Organizations are learning that this is where they get the greatest leverage and value from Enterprise Social Media. Most communities that start internally or externally migrate to a “corporate borderless community” that connects the corporation to the outside world.

What business benefits can you realize from Enterprise Social Media?

  • Increased brand awareness and loyalty. Corporations are using social media tools to assist in promoting their brand and managing their image.
    • McDonalds use an Awareness blog to promote their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives - building their brand image. You can see the "McDonalds Open for Discussion" blog here.
  • Increased customer engagement = increased revenue. Organizations are finding that the right type of online communities increase revenue by stimulating customer and prospect activity.
    • The CEO of a major hotel chain uses Awareness blogs to convey his message and interact with customers. The company has been able to directly measure the revenue benefit from this use of Enterprise Social Media.
    • The New York Times Company uses Awareness to provide a community that lets its readers participate in “citizen journalism” – writing stories that are used either online, in the paper, or to seed articles for the full time journalists. This engages customers, fuels their journalistic engine, and increases their advertising revenue.
    • Flight Centre use Awareness to provide vacation photo and experience sharing. This customer and employee engagement drives brand loyalty, provides information for customers and sales people, and ultimately creates sales. You can see it here.
  • Improved communication and collaboration. Social media in the enterprise can foster better communication among employees and partners.
    • McDonalds uses an Awareness blogs to allow franchisees and staff to communicate – producing a low cost effective internal communications and a dynamic pro-active environment. This system allows franchises to shared operational ideas, reducing their costs, to answer collective questions, reducing McDonald’s franchisee service costs, and to share promotional ideas, creating revenue for all parties.
  • Effective market research.
    • Awareness allows for multi-level market research. On one level the Awareness community allows engagement, and understanding, of multiple stakeholders by providing a discussion platform to understand their individual points of view. For instance Cannondale has created “The Brad Blog” to answer user questions. Although Brad has one personality he is in fact a collection of 15 specialized engineers answering in-depth questions which are then available for the wider readership. You can see Cannondale’s brad blog here.
    • Alternatively you can create small widgets, such as polls, or log-in questions to members to get instant research on an issue.
  • For knowledge management.
    • Many corporations use Enterprise Social Media to retain knowledge that would otherwise be lost as employees leave or retire.
    • Northwestern Mutual uses Awareness blogs, comments and wikis to capture institutional knowledge and create a “corporate memory”. Enterprise Social Media provides a simple user-friendly system for staff to write and share information.
  • Effective distribution.
    • Kodak uses RSS feeds on their Awareness powered blog “A thousand words” to provide a simple and effective opt in distribution system. You can see and/or subscribe to Kodak’s RSS feed here.

"Leads with a complete solution"

The Forrester Wave: Blogging Platforms, Q2 2006. Forrester Research. June 2006.