Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom
By Olivia SwainSep 6
The idea of a ‘social company’ has a variety of different meanings.
For some, it means the sort of office where Friday drinks are mandatory – but when we’re talking about social media, it can mean anything from being allowed to access Facebook at your desk to a company that is founded on social values of openness and transparency.
Most businesses probably fall somewhere closer to the former than the latter. The majority of companies were founded before the advent of Twitter, Facebook and blogging CEOs, and so are naturally cautious about the openness that social media promotes.
But embedding a social culture into a business – promoting openness, inclusiveness and collaboration – can benefit a business enormously, and encourage staff to think in terms of possibilities rather than restrictions.
So how can companies begin to become more social?
Trust is the key word here. Companies often begin from a position of suspicion that their employees will abuse their openness; spend too much time tweeting and further their own profiles, rather than furthering the interests of the company.
However, an open culture is a great one for employees to thrive within. An open culture, where decisions are made collaboratively, documents are produced collaboratively, and where everyone has access to all the information they need quickly and easily can lead to better business decisions.
Using social tools – yes, even Twitter – can allow different parts of a business to talk to and learn from each other (consider Twitter groups of employees: easy to follow, and instantly provide a means for cross-business communications).
Groups on Linkedin and the like could be a way of cross-pollinating ideas from one department to another, and even an alternative channel for innovation.
The most innovative businesses of the past decade have made a virtue of being open and allowing staff to collaborate (Google’s famous 20% time, for example).
The question is: in order to stay competitive, can any company afford to not think socially?