February 28th, 2011
One of the greatest appeals of external/public social media is the status update stream. I worked with one company that developed social business apps and used its own Twitter-like status update product internally. Most of the employees were engineers, many working remotely. This application gave them back a couple of things lost in a remote working situation.
First, they could freely discuss amongst 10 or 20 people the solution to a coding problem. Someone could post that they were having trouble with a certain function, and the team could discuss it and come to a solution very quickly. (Much more quickly than they could have with a conference call.)
The other thing it enabled was a sense of team, and community. People could comment on the news, share jokes, make social arrangements, all without interrupting their work.
The thing about enterprise risk is, that in some ways, social media amplifies risk because it creates a permanent record, is easy to pass along, and because people sometimes forget who they are talking to. But the risk is exaggerated. Most companies have Standards of Business Conduct that cover things like disclosure of proprietary information, financial information safeguards and compliance, fair competitive practice and so on. These apply on a social network or at Starbucks. The key is to hire smart people and give them the appropriate training in their domain and in the right way to use any social media.