When it comes to consumer-facing Web 2.0 applications, community initiatives and requirements are evolving quickly, including an increased business focus on broader community participation from both internal and external audiences, according to a report on enterprise social media from Awareness Inc.
The report, entitled 'Trends and Best Practices in Adopting Web 2.0 in 2008', details the results of a survey of 160 business professionals about their organisations' adoption of social media and Web 2.0 technologies.
The survey uncovered several interesting developments in the corporate adoption of social media over the past year, including that:
- Many employers are now starting to allow social media participation more freely within their organisations, with this group having grown to 69% in 2008, up from only 37% in 2007;
- Employers are also discovering the benefits of using social media. Nearly two-thirds (63%) are using social media to build and promote their brand, while 61% are using it to improve communication and collaboration, and 58% are using it to increase consumer engagement;
- Three-quarters (75%) of company employees are already using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn for business purposes;
- External (e.g. customer) communities are increasing, as 27% of respondents said their companies were planning to deploy external communities. Currently, only 13% said that their organisation already operates an external community;
- The use of company-internal communities is on the increase as well, with 6% of organisations already reporting that they have deployed them, while 33% have plans to implement internal social media initiatives in the future.
Special interest groups
In particular, the study noted that online communities directed at specific interests and groups of people tend to allow for more targeted marketing activities. For this reason, some 37% of organisations already have specific areas of focus for their online communities.
"Increasingly employers are realising that social media can offer great value in connecting both with people outside their company, and also internally, enhancing employee communication and collaboration," explained John Bruce, CEO for Awareness."
As the report concluded, the development of best practices for companies to follow is vital. Learning how to encourage participation without forcing it, how to manage communities without clamping down, and discerning which technologies will work best in each case were the main focus points of the report, and these areas are essential to the success of social media deployments.
The report has been made available as a free download from the Awareness web site - click here (free registration required).