In less than a decade, social media platforms have come a long way. Business leaders understand that leveraging social media platforms are likely to increase collaboration, efficiency, and creativity of their employees.
By 2009, social networks like Facebook and Twitter had gone mainstream. In merely seven years people in general spent triple the amount of time on social media than they did back in 2009.
Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have joined the ranks of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Some of these platforms are used for blogging, as well as video logging. Initially, there was much enthusiasm for blogging however it seems to have cooled down. Same can be said for the Wikis.
An extremely telling McKinsey research tracked “how companies’ choice of social tools, the boundaries of their usage, and the benefits of applying them have evolved over the period.”
For businesses, these social media platforms create an organic platform for inter and intra-firm collaboration, reduce the cost of doing business and potentially expedite go-to-market opportunities.
Social media platforms have gone through several trial and error stages. Early on firms utilized Facebook and YouTube to build a brand.
By 2010, Yammer, Chatter and Connections emerged as inter-company collaboration tools, a la social media. For example, Yammer gained fame within the enterprise for sharing short messages similar to Twitter. One could see messages from groups and tags they followed. But unlike Twitter, Yammer is available to a company’s employees’ only (requires valid company email).
Before the advent of Web 2.0 there were primarily two options for sharing information digitally. A Cisco Collaboration case study: Enterprise Social Sharing and Collaboration states:
“Create an email distribution list or post content on an internal webpage or file share. But these methods were limited because you had to know who should be included in the email list and their email addresses. They were also cumbersome, because any change in the information meant sending a new message to everyone, or trying to get an update coded into the webpage. For documents with many reviewers or frequent updates, these methods led to message overload and confusion about which version was the most up-to-date. Email distribution also generated extra network traffic and storage needs because every attachment was duplicated for each recipient on the list.”
Crowd-sourcing, another key outcome of social media platforms enables companies to scour within and out of the organization for ideas, solutions, etc. Several studies have shown that a majority of professionals use social media for competitive intelligence, and to devise market plans. Meanwhile some others use it as a medium to share their organization’s visions and prospects.
According to the Harvard Business Review, social media platforms are one of the most significant developments for businesses (Kouchaki, Gino, & Casciaro, 2016). With the creation of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter – especially Facebook, visibility of business online has taken place, and only the most tech-savvy have been able to survive;
“A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.”