How Do Social Groups/Intranet Fit Into Your Business?
Building Business Communication
As you have experienced firsthand, the internet is an integral part of your business and this involves social media groups where people of all ages connect. So much so that it’s been found that Generation X adults are just as likely to connect online as they are in person! So when it comes to improving communication within your business why not incorporate this? No, I’m not talking about email newsletters which we’ve already covered, I’m talking about social support programs or even the intranet! Heard of it?
Your Intranet/Social Group Options
Differing from the internet, intranet can be described as a computer network with restricted access (like just your employees) that uses protocols developed on the internet. Basically it’s a restricted area where your employees can go to get the latest company news, reports, communicate with fellow employees…etc. You also have such things as Facebook Groups where your employees can also share ideas, pictures, stories…etc. to everyone in the group. Both methods are a great way to build company bonds and help promote coworker collaboration in and out of the office.
Fostering a Community
So why are these online communities important? When it comes to business communications, why does fostering a social environment matter? Why should you invest in a social group/intranet solution? It all comes down to the health of your employees. When your employees are mentally and physically healthy they can put more into their job and therefore have a bigger impact on the bottom line!
I’m serious, social groups in general has been found to alleviate depression while also being shown to cause individuals to exercise more and cope better with stressful events. It makes sense too considering humans are very social creatures by nature. Honestly, who doesn’t want to feel like they are part of a community? So if you want happy, healthy employees, it’s time to foster that community within your corporation. Not only do social groups have the ability to improve your employee’s moods they can also foster incredible collaboration and a stronger community within the organization.
The intranet/social groups allow employees to connect with their coworkers and managers, especially if the company is growing quickly. It’s all too common for rapidly expanding companies to witness employees growing apart (which isn’t anyone’s fault) because of the rapid growth and promotion of individuals. While once you knew everyone’s spouse and children’s name, now you don’t even know if they are married anymore. The intranet and other social tools can help keep people connected and build the family culture you want your business to have!
Not only that, but the intranet can build new social interactions which can lead to collaboration and new creative ideas for your company especially if you have several facilities across the country! Want creative, new ideas flowing through your company that will allow you to dominate the competition? Sure you do and social groups can help!
Get this, research published in the American Journal of Sociology found social groups facilitate exactly this. University of Pennsylvania’s Damon Centola explained, “What this study shows is that preserving [social] group boundaries is actually necessary for complex ideas to become accepted across diverse populations… It could be that the Internet [intranet in this case] is in fact set up and operates in such a way as to allow easier coordination on complex ideas.”
Obviously, we want creative, healthy, super employees to help grow our company and this can all be helped by business communication in the form of social groups and the intranet. I guess the next question is, “How do I get started?”
Your Company’s Social Groups
Existing Social Media – Probably the simplest and cheapest option out there is to start a restricted Facebook Group. This password protected group will allow your coworkers to log in and share their experiences, collaborate and read corporate updates. One downside is that this could lead to employee overuse (see below).
Membership Sites – Another easy option (especially if you have a WordPress site) is to get a membership plugin, like WishList Member or any of the other countless ones, which will allow your employees to create their own username/password to get into the member portal. The cool thing about this option is that it has a very different feel then a simple social media group. Many of these plugins allow your members (employees) to have their own profile, settings, and other customizable properties. They also have things such as forums, media libraries, and countless other add-ons that you can personalize to make this portal your own.
Intranet/Company Portal – When many people think of the intranet this is what typically comes to mind – an integrated network that only lives on your server and only that your employees can access. This allows you to customize it as much as possible (or as much as your developer can do) but can be a more costly way to go.
Social Group Tips
No matter what, as you are increasing creativity, family atmosphere and business communication remember these simple tips:
- Moderate – When it comes to your employee forums, make sure you monitor it to ensure the conversation is appropriate. Enough said.
- Monitor Usage – As with any privilege, some people might take advantage of it. You will want to ensure they aren’t spending hours and hours surfing the intranet instead of working!
- Not For Everyone – Sharing private information (like a social media profile) might not be for everyone. Just remember to respect everyone’s privacy.
- Cultivate Discussion – If no one uses it, then it’s going to be hard to see the benefits. Be active in there, ask questions, respond to questions, and cultivate a family community and atmosphere!
Does setting up your own company social group or intranet fix all of your business communication issues? Certainly not!
While this form of communication is a great way to stay in touch and collaborate, face-to-face communication is usually more powerful. That’s not to say that the intranet isn’t useful!
It’s a great place to foster collaboration, a family atmosphere and help you disseminate important information to your employees! In conjunction with other communication methods it can be a highly effective communication tool that will help take your business to the next level!
Be sure to checkout Part I and II of our Business Communication discussion and come back next week as we discuss improving your office settings to increase discussion!