Social Networks and Corporate Communication

social-network.jpgWhen most people hear “social network” they think of the Generation Y phenomenons MySpace and Facebook.  However, with so many social networks available today, we are afforded the opportunity to meet and connect with people online in ways chat rooms could never make possible.  Niche social networks make it possible for just about anyone to find others with common interests.  Inspired by a blog post written by Chris Brogan, I thought it worth sharing to many interesting ways the idea of a social network has evolved since Classmates.com.

Chris Brogan’s idea was a social network at hotels to help business travelers meet and connect with people of similar interests who might also be staying at that hotel. Personally, I would rather grab a drink at the hotel bar and talk to the wacky guy on the corner stool than set up a profile for every hotel I stay at hoping to connect with one or two people I’ll likely never see again, but I see his point—Such a social network could be a valuable tool for convention goers looking to network.

barack-fan.JPGSocial networks have become more than just a way for like-minded people to connect.  Businesses are using social networks to connect with their customers.  For reaching their audiences, some businesses  have created their own social networks for customers.  But who really wants to join the Breeze Odor Control community? While the value of creating a customer social network has been debated, there is often more value in reaching out to customers on existing social networks.   Coca-a-cola, for example, has over 60,000 fans on Facebook and Barack Obama has over 1 million.  And every single one of those fans has a profile page where their allegiance is displayed!

While letting employees search through social networks and write wall posts all day long may not be the key to productivity, some corporations have successfully implemented internal social networks as a valuable communication tool.  IBM’s Beehive was one of the first internal social networks, created to give a world wide employee base the chance to get to know one another.  According to IBM’s Watson Research Center, the network was created to “meet the challenge of building relationships vital to working in large, distributed enterprises.”  And more importantly, it seems to be working:

The adoption rate is the impressive statistic.  Up until August 2007, Beehive was still in ‘trial’ mode and only had a couple of hundred invited users.  In the nine months since, Behive has exploded:

  • Over 35,000 registered IBM employees
  • Created over 280,000 social network connections to each other
  • Posted more than 150,000 comments
  • Shared more than 43,000 photos
  • Created over 15,000 “Hive5s fives”
  • Hosted over 2000 events

So as MySpace profiles become more and more annoying thanks to Pimp My Profile and the like, it’s nice to know that social networks can still be successfully utilized without the sparkles and butterflies.

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