Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group
October 15, 2013

If Your Workplace Doesn’t Have a Social Commenting System, It Should

Research from McKinsey shows that social platforms can unlock more than $1 trillion in value—and that’s just in the four industry sectors the firm studied. Two-thirds of this incredible value creation lay in improving communication and collaboration “within and across enterprises.” 1

If that doesn’t catch your attention, it should. Although much has been written about the value of social platforms in employee engagement programs, little attention has been paid to the enormous potential social platforms hold for unlocking the vast store of knowledge that resides within an organization’s entire workforce. From the 20-year employee’s tacit knowledge about “how things work” to the Millennial’s social media expertise, brainpower that could add literally millions of dollars in value goes untapped simply because there’s no go way to get at it. Until now.

Social platforms, particularly those incorporating a social commenting system, provide an avenue for accessing the untapped insights, knowledge and expertise within your organization that can boost its competitive edge. When carefully constructed and well executed, a social commenting system is a conduit for knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer. Information, ideas, suggestions and observations can be shared quickly, inexpensively and widely, and “from the few to the many,” according to a SHRM report. In short, the system enables organizations to capture the wisdom of the many to the benefit of the entire enterprise.

We all know that time is money. A social commenting system can often take the place of time-consuming, back-and-forth emails, and—unlike email—captures all comments on a subject for viewing in their entirety, in one place. It speeds the flow of information and decision-making by enabling real-time discussions and information.

The system also complements other real-time aspects of an enterprise social media platform—breaking company news, live events, or urgent product or service information, for example. As these events unfold, real-time comments and discussion not only inform, they also drive employee participation and engagement. One measure of an engaged culture is the degree to which employees immerse themselves in the organization’s social platform, commenting, posting, or putting forth ideas, for example, and becoming part of the overall corporate community. A social commenting system should:

  • Be designed to encourage quality discussions
  • Incorporate the ability to monitor discussions
  • Give administrator the ability to control who can—and cannot—post
  • Provide analytics: most frequent or top commentator, top content, and emerging topics, for example
  • Be mobile-optimized for your on-the-go workforce

For all their advantages, these systems need to be carefully thought through before they are implemented. Start by asking:

  • What do we want to accomplish that we can’t accomplish by other means?
  • Will this support our strategic goals?
  • What benefits to we gain? What are the risks, have we examined them, and do we have the capacity to address those risks?
  • Do we have the resources to support administration of a social commenting platform?
  • Have we fully explored any legal, compliance or ethical issues that may arise?
  • Will the ability to comment be limited to our employees or will external partners be able to add to the discussion (for example, contractors or business partners)?

All channels of social media are rapidly evolving but fully 80 percent of organizations responding to a 2012 SHRM survey (“Social Media in Business Strategy and Operations”) were not using social media for internal communications.  Given the value that can be extracted from these platforms, that’s a huge missed opportunity.

Recommended reading:

 

1. McKinsey Quarterly, “Capturing Business Value With Social Technologies,” November 2012.

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