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Social Media inside the firewall

We often talk about the social media mindset. It should be clear to anyone by now that what we’ve been going through in the past few years has been a cultural and behavioural shift rather than a technological one. All the various tools we’ve been working with are tools that ultimately enable us to share and communicate with the world, be it the world wide web, our local community, our network of friends, or our workplace. And that’s exactly where we’re going to focus our attention in this and further posts on the potential of Social Media “inside the firewall”.

Social Media can – and should – be used internally as a mechanism for improving business performance. The internal use of social media goes under many names: social businessenterprise 2.0corporate social networking being some of the most popular, and they all include in their definitions different nuances of meaning. It’s basically a way of working that embeds the principles of Social Media revolution: many-to-many communication, collaboration, co-brainstorming, transparency, trust, participation, inclusiveness, co-creation, flattening of hierarchies. After all intranets were born before the internet, and they can easily work in the same way, by providing a platform for conversation, knowledge sharing and creation, content management, crowdsourcing, co-innovation, and so on. And as it’s happening with externally-facing Social Media, it’s not only about reduced emails, but it can have a much more holistic impact, going from improved – and self-organising – organizational structure, reward and recognition mechanisms, workforce motivation and morale, and so on.

As part of our ongoing research activity on yet another interesting aspect of Social Media, we came across an ever-growing number of platforms that are being used as private/internal social networks. We produced the tag cloud you can see below, generated by collating the texts of the descriptions of a number of these platforms (data gathered – among the rest – from the latest Gartner‘s Magic Quadrant for Social Software for the Workplace, and Forrester‘s Wave for Enterprise Social Platforms). Not surprisingly, all the platforms share a clear focus on social, and they often mention words like communities, collaboration, networking, creation, expertise, knowledge, learning, conversation, information.


Analysing their descriptions and functionalities, customer reports,       opinion pieces, users blog  posts we started noticing some common themes and models they seem to be converging around, as well as the advantages and  drawbacks according to the current users. In the same vein, last Tuesday we were invited to London  to an event organized by one of the fastest-growing internal social networks, Yammer, which we’ve been using during Social Media Week Glasgow to collaborate and share information, experiences and insights with other city partners. The event was hosted by Yammer founder and CEO, David Sacks, and enriched with the experiences of Yammer users Peter Kemper of Shell; Laurie Hibbs of Lexis Nexis and Suzanne Masters of ACCA. We will be sharing with you more on the above and further insights on the subject   in future posts.


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