10 Uses for Social Collaboration - dummies

10 Uses for Social Collaboration

By David F. Carr

Here are ten productive things you can do with a social collaboration network. Each one of these items is more difficult to do without social collaboration.

  • Share information everyone should know (or be able to find out).

    Publish information, making it available to all employees without clogging their e-mail inboxes. Let members of the network filter for the information most relevant to them and their roles within the organization. Make information searchable, tagging or categorizing it so employees can find it when they really need it.

  • Humanize the workplace.

    Replace faceless e-mail correspondence with a communications and collaboration environment where people can see each other’s faces and easily find out more about each other.

  • Improve project planning and coordination.

    Some social collaboration platforms include explicit support for organizing projects as well as everyday work activities. Even outside of social task management tools, social communication and collaboration provides a means of discussing potential projects, setting goals, sharing plans, and letting project team members who fall behind schedule let others know what is hampering their progress and ask for help.

  • Broaden executive communication and invite feedback.

    For the CEO and other leaders, an internal blog post is an opportunity to detail organizational strategy in an informal and personal way that invites feedback — something that is particularly useful when the leader sincerely wants to hear what others think. Employees who might not be brave enough to reply to a company-wide email from the CEO are often more willing to share their thoughts in the comments on a blog, particularly if they see their peers doing so. In the process, the leader gets insight into what those on the front lines of the organization think — input that might otherwise be filtered out by the layers of management in between.

  • Get everyone thinking and sharing their ideas.

    Social collaboration allows an organization to pull people together and actively brainstorm ways of overcoming challenges and exploiting opportunities.

  • Collaborate on sales to close more deals.

    Sales organizations benefit not only from collaboration within the sales team but improved connections to those in other parts of the organization, such as project managers who can answer customer questions or finance managers who can approve discounts.

  • Find experts.

    When there is a key question to be answered or problem to be solved, a social collaboration network makes it easier to find the people within the organization who have relevant expertise. Where a static directory would quickly become outdated, a healthy collaboration network is continually refreshed by contextual clues like documents members have posted and questions they have answered.

  • Connect people with shared interests, expertise, or challenges.

    Groups and sub-communities within a social collaboration network provide a gathering place for people who share expertise or are trying to learn more about a subject, whether technical or managerial. In large organizations with pockets of expertise that may be distributed regionally or globally, an online group may be the only place people have the opportunity to meet.

  • Reach across geographies and time zones.

    People who work in different offices, home offices, or on the road can carry on extended group discussions or actively collaborate to get work done, without the need to coordinate their schedules as they would for an in person or synchronous online meeting.

  • Make the organization more adaptable by encouraging personal and professional networking.

    An online social network introduces members to people who know people. Sharing contacts and making introductions makes employees more effective at navigating an organization’s internal complexities — and better able to find workarounds when formal business processes break down.