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5 Keys to Enterprise Social Networking Success

By Jonathan Hassell, CIO
November 28, 2012 09:26 AM ET

CIO - Facebook, Google+ and Twitter-it's hard to not realize that social networking is an important part of today's environment. Recently, there has been a push to expand the instant, always-on, real-time nature of social communication and collaboration directly into the enterprise so workers and team members can get a sense of what others are working on, what resources are available, who has expertise in what areas and so on.

5 hot social networking sites

If you're a CIO considering a social networking platform for your business, or you are on the committee tasked with finding good platforms to deploy, this piece is for you-it takes a look at what place social networking has in the enterprise and what features and requirements social platforms must have to be effective.

Download: CIO.com's Strategic Guide to Enterprise Social Networks

One caveat: Any discussion of enterprise social networking should be split into a couple different types of social awareness and engagement. There's internal social publication, where colleagues and team members can find each other, intersect and discuss relevant details of their business and work, and there's external social engagement, where members of your sales, marketing and public relations teams come together to create conversations and interact with customers, prospects, vendors and others. This piece will discuss internal networking. There are a whole other sets of tools to cover the latter.

How Enterprise Social Networking Promotes Employee Engagement

There is value in connecting people within your own company, especially as you have disparate locations and hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. Imagine needing to solve a problem, say, analyzing a spreadsheet. You don't know how a number was generated or where it came from. Head over to the intranet, type in the phrase "COGS for the Widget division" and instantly see the right people working on that number. Connect, and off you go. No travel expenses, no shared introductions-just walls being knocked down.

Analysis: Enterprises Must Collaborate and Get Social Now (or Pay Later)

Microsoft, for one, thought such a capability was so important that it bought an entire company for its product. The giant acquired Yammer, a 4-year-old social networking company, simply because it felt it was falling behind well-integrated social platforms such as Salesforce.com Chatter. It will be including Yammer technology alongside Office 2013, and analysts expect it to be integrated within the SharePoint on-premises and cloud-based products very soon. (If you feel late to the enterprise social networking party, well, console yourself that you avoided having to spend $1.2 billion, as Microsoft did, just to call yourself caught up.)

5 Things You'll Want in an Enterprise Social Networking Platform

As you begin looking to standardize on an enterprise social networking platform, give the following features priority as you perform your evaluations. Each is critically important to pursuing the full evolution of social strategy in an internal business setting.

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