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The Insidious Spread of Social Media

by Ian Huckabee on January 16, 2012

For a while now I’ve been helping clients manage the insidious spread of social media across the enterprise. It’s worse than kudzu. It grows everywhere. For most companies, social media are brought in by the folks in the marketing department, probably because of the cute icons that make them look harmless enough. And then wham! Companies have to actually start budgeting for this stuff. Many were slow to allocate resources, but once digital companies were able to offer stronger measurement, they had to. And now social media have spread everywhere.

Marketing was an obvious fit for social media. But it’s the breakthrough in communications offered by social media that’s causing the rapid adoption by different departments and verticals, including customer service, corporate communications, learning and development, manufacturing, sales, product development, and human resources and recruitment.

A good example is enterprise resource planning, where the use of activity streams (think Twitter, only not public) can reduce information delay. In the same way that Salesforce.com’s Chatter activity stream allows team members to quickly communicate information about leads and opportunities, manufacturing UIs are implementing the same technology to reduce inefficiencies across shop floors and supply chains. Derek Singleton, ERP Analyst with Software Advice, lays it out very clearly in a piece about the use of activity streams and manufacturing.

WeejeeLearning, our sister company, a custom learning company that specializes in e-learning and social learning, has seen a dramatic increase in inquiries and engagements for social learning solutions, another example of the spread of social media within the enterprise. Corporations understand how well suited social media are for capturing learner insights that inform other learners, and so they’re supplementing formal learning solutions with community-based learning initiatives.

Why does social media spread so? Community wants to happen. If I could be in multiple work-related places at once, I would be. Social tools like activity streams are bringing those places to us, and the efficiency gains are improving work life balance and giving us more free time. For things like, well, social media.

What activity streams are you using in your work? Twitter? Chatter? Something cool and proprietary? Please comment below!



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