Social intranets vs. social media? The best way to address employees’ social needs in the workplace

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Organizations are basically made up of people. Encouraging people-friendly work practices that allow for interaction and collaboration between staff can deliver many business benefits. A great company culture, common sense of purpose, and happy and engaged employees will be more productive and will increase your bottom dollar. However, whether to go down the road of social intranets or social media is the conundrum for many organizations.  Indeed some businesses are struggling to understand the differences. So what is a social intranet as opposed to the social media that we have all become so familiar with?

Social intranet

Essentially a social intranet is not one technology, but is a range of features that all combine to make a social intranet. The concept of the office intranet as being a private network and central repository for all company information, is not a new one. Many businesses have company intranets and have been realising the many benefits that they bring such as:

  • improved communication
  • streamlined business processes
  • less time spent on sourcing and updating company information
  • increased integration and collaboration between staff.

In addition to the standard intranet features of document management and sharing systems, news feeds, company calendars, staff directories and so on, increasingly companies are adding more social features. These include:

  • richer staff directories and biographies that allow staff to interact and connect
  • team collaboration and project work spaces or activity walls
  • messaging between staff
  • the ability to comment on news feeds
  • blogs and discussion forums.

So social intranets are essentially internal-facing communication and collaboration tools. The basic premise is that enabling two-way communication and encouraging staff to be active rather than passive receivers of information is a good thing for the organization.

Social media

Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn – we all know what social media is and chances are we are active users ourselves. Indeed most companies will have a social media presence and it is a great marketing tool, exposing your brand or product to a wide audience.

And so the reality is that most staff members are already using multiple social media platforms on a daily basis to help get their work done.

But social media is an external-facing communication tool. And while it may well connect individuals, it won’t connect a whole organization. And it certainly won’t connect individuals and teams in collaborative work or projects.

Another important difference between social media and the social intranet is that with the latter, the company retains control. All information, collaboration and integration is overseen by the business. While it’s inevitable that some staff will use the intranet to share recipes or holiday photos, the majority of interaction will be work-related and there will not be the additional distractions of Facebook or Twitter.

Channelling the positives of social interaction

Since the advent of the office environment, staff have taken time out to interact socially while making a coffee or waiting at the office printer. The feeling of being valued, involved and connected that comes with social interaction leads to happier, more engaged employees and, therefore, decreased turnover and sickness as well as increased morale and loyalty.

Building relationships with colleagues has always been an important part of our working lives. What’s changed is the way in which we do it in this digital age. So instead of giving people free rein on social media to get distracted and waste time on looking up the football results or organizing their social lives, why not channel that need for interaction via the office intranet? That way you, as an organization,can monitor and retain control while also enjoying the additional benefits that a company intranet offers.

Contact the team at MyHub to find out how a social intranet can transform your organization.

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