James Royal-Lawson

social networking

Intranet social networking for small businesses

Over the past 18 months I’ve been overseeing the implementation of Yammer (intranet social networking tool) in a small business. The goal was to reduce the amount of ideas, discussions and knowledge circulating in emails sent to a limited audience and increase knowledge sharing and learning.

It’s taken over a year for a majority of employees (and close partners) to find a place for micro-blogging in their daily communications. At first it was just myself and two other early adopters who jumped in and started talking. Then, as time passed, real-life conversations started to bring up Yammer conversations and shared links – increasing the curiosity and interest of non-active colleagues in joining our social network.

As Nielsen have pointed out, growing a social network internally isn’t something you do overnight. You have to have the patience to let it develop organically.

Everyone currently follows everyone else. It’s a small enough company to cope with that, but as the network grows, I’d expect people to begin being selective about which collegues they actively follow and for more groups (or side-discussions) to appear.

With Yammer, this small business now has a searchable database of ideas, links, conversations – company assets that would normally be lost in email. They also have the ability to do all this in real time; asking questions and sharing experience. For a small company with consultants who are often working across a number of client sites; Yammer has become an active hub, leaving the formal, structured intranet as a reference library.

Follow people on Twitter without actually following them

At the time of writing I follow about 50 people and those 50 people generate about 300-400 tweets a day. The number of tweets passing before your eyes if you follow hundreds of people is going to be overwhelming.

The obvious solution to tweet-overload is to stop following people, but you probably followed them for a reason and perhaps that reason was a handful of really interesting tweets a day, or maybe you were just stalking a celebrity.

You can help filter the noise with a desktop client such as Tweetdeck. Unfortunately, such Abobe Air based applications don’t work for me as I use a number of different computers each week, with varying specifications, and some of them I have no control over what is installed.

I only follow people who tweet tweets that, to a to a large degree, are interesting to me within my area of work. I then use a combination of Netvibes, the Twitter Search widget and the Tweetgrid Widget (for hashtag searches) to follow people, topics and keywords that I don’t want in my main twitter-stream. I have then collected all of these together on a “twitter” tab in my Netvibes. This tab has become, in effect, a Tweetdeck for me. An example is available here for you to view and copy.

social-marketing campaigns will descend into visual clutter about the banal doings of increasingly random people, rather than being the next big thing in advertising.

The Economist offering their conclusion based on Paul Martino saying “social graphs degenerate to noise in all cases” with regard to social networking sites, such as Facebook.
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