From blogs to instant messengers, social software has grown from a niche industry into one of the Internet’s biggest fields over the past 15 years. Applications such as Yahoo Messenger have evolved into large social networks like Facebook, connecting millions of people – and millions of businesses – every single day. While most people use social software for – quite predictably – socializing, a large number of businesses are turning to social software as a way of increasing output, boosting collaboration, and creating a far more social and collaborative workplace over the Internet.
In this guide, we’ll look at four effective strategies that your business can use to get more collaboration, more socialization, and far more creativity using social software such as instant messengers, wikis, and social bookmarking services.
Using in-house wikis to train staff and establish protocols
Every business needs established systems and processes in order to scale. Prior to the Internet, these were typically established in written guide and materials, with a copy of the relevant information distributed to staff members in order to make sure the rules were followed. Today, it’s easy to train and inform your staff – even in a business environment that is spread all around the world – using wikis. Using free software, you can build your very own business wiki with separate pages explaining customer service processes, accounting information, and even instructional guides for staff. This centralizes all of your training material, giving your employees and contractors a dedicated resource to use whenever they have questions that need answers. With your own in-house wiki, your business can substantially reduce the amount of time it spends answering common questions and training new staff members. A variety of wiki applications are available for businesses. You can read more about them at this Wikipedia page, which compares several types of wiki software.
Using collaborative software to complete important business projects
Thanks to collaborative project management software, you can complete a project with one employee in Bangalore, another in Tokyo, and another in Los Angeles. The massive popularity of applications like Google Drive and Basecamp means it’s easy to collaborate on important projects regardless of where you – and your staff – reside. From blog posts to complicated marketing campaigns, online collaboration makes it easier than it has ever been to share information with staff members and centralize your activity in one location. Instead of each working independently, your team can now collaborate in real time using social project management tools.
Using instant messengers to quickly communicate with staff
Sometimes you’ll need to pass important information onto staff located on the other side of the globe. Because time zones make phone contact complicated, it’s far better to use an instant messenger to contact staff members (and even customers) to talk about their projects, their purchases, and their latest tasks. Instead of relying on email for communication – which can be slow and difficult for large businesses to manage – it’s often a good idea to encourage your staff members to communicate via instant messenger. Tools like Skype make it easy to chat with a large team and coordinate projects from around the globe.
Social bookmarking services are for more than just discussion. By bookmarking any resources that you think are important to your business, you can pass on important information to your team without having to send out mass emails or message team members on an instant messenger. Encourage your staff members to use a social bookmarking service like Delicious to store their bookmarks, and use tags to categorize information as being relevant or irrelevant to your business. This way, your staff members can read documents and articles that you recommend via social bookmarking websites.
There’s far more to social software than just wikis and collaborative project tools – much more. This Wikipedia page explains in detail how social software can be used by small businesses and enterprises alike to increase productivity and become far more effective. Whether it’s a simple instant messenger group or a large and detailed corporate wiki, using social software effectively can make your business significantly more productive, more effective, and more collaborative.
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