Using Social Media Inside Your Organization

"Businesses that successfully transition to social organizations will have a competitive advantage over those that do not."

That's from a white paper called "Using Social Media to Improve Organizational Communication & Efficiency," authored by Amy M. Young and Mary D. Hinesly from the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

For the past several years, we've been hammering away here at Franchise Update about the importance of "breaking down the silos" in your corporate organization. Also for the past several years, we've all been hearing ad nauseam about how we need to embrace social media to reach and engage customers.

But what about using social media within the organization to have different departments - sales, marketing, operations, field support, etc. - learn to communicate better and work together to build the brand and strengthen the system?

Let's begin with what a "social organization" is - and why should you, as a franchisor, care a fig about it? Or its potential impact on development?

According to the authors, "Whether using publicly available devices or social enterprise systems, companies that integrate these new forms of communication throughout their entire organization have been referred to as 'social organizations.' Social organizations typically have enhanced information flow, high levels of employee collaboration and innovation, decentralized organizational structures, and high levels of employee engagement."

What's not to like? Benefits can include saving time, building new cross-departmental relationships, leveraging the talents of individuals throughout the company, team-building, and more. As the authors put it:

"Most businesses today use social media to enhance their competitive advantage, usually via branding and marketing. But some companies have recognized the full power of social media and are using it to improve communication within their organization. When done right, social media can enhance workforce collaboration, increase organizational efficiency, and reduce expenses."

The paper goes on to review the business value of social media and how it is "fundamentally changing organizational communication, collaboration, and efficiency." For businesses, they say, those changes include the ability to:

  • coordinate activities across groups, functional areas, and geography;
  • foster connections between individuals with no previous association; and
  • communicate instantaneously.

The white paper also discusses the "how to" of implementing a successful internal social media initiative, as well as the potential risks associated with using social media in your business.

The complete 5-page white paper is available online.

Amy M. Young is a lecturer at the Ross School of Business, teaching social media and communications to BBA and MBA students. Mary D. Hinesly is a lecturer at the Ross School of Business, teaching business history, social media, and business communications to BBA and MBA students.

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