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‘You can’t harness the power of social media in niche markets’

The social media buzz is barely dying down as more and more mainstream companies jump on the well-oiled bandwagon that has been created in the last couple of years. There is, however, one problem the social media gurus never told us — harnessing the power of electronic-based tools to further your business may in fact be limited to companies that target the mainstream. Or maybe not? 

The beauty of social media for me is the very loose rules (if any) and the limitations only of the sky and our imaginations. This, along with being distinct from industrial media and relatively cheap for anyone to enable, proves that social media ninja-kicks and karate-chops the ass of my headline! 

In November 2008 I was asked to taste the cocktail that claimed to be our company’s intranet. Before my first sip I was put off by the vile smell of several non-working nice-to-have features and outdated information lurking around. When I finally got the courage to login with my domain password I was bombarded by a bunch of IT blunders and server side sicknesses. Clearly we needed a new intranet. Something the staff could digest … with that certain je ne sais quoi! Something with a serious dose of social media flavour. 

At this point you’re probably asking yourself “what on earth is this skinny geek going on about?” So I’ll get right to it. Some of the goals for our company intranet were to build the morale of our staff, create a social point where the fast growing number of employees could keep in contact and empower our team to expose the latest internal trends in a central place. I took a bold move and decided to implement a stunning open-source application called WordPress (the same application on which TechLeader runs). Within seven days I (along with some assistance from the IT guys) had selected a theme, enabled a secure domain login, added our latest documentation and even empowered employees to upload their own profile pictures. Peresys has created an encapsulated social media network within the boundary of our corporate infrastructure.

Some would argue that this isn’t social media because it’s closed off from the public. I beg to differ. Three months since the launch of “The Daily FIX”, over 60% of our staff actively contribute by submitting articles (everything from product updates to VFest reviews), mobile blogging with photos (from across the globe), creating scheduled calendar events (like birthdays and leave info) and at the very least commenting on all said content. 

We have managed to bridge the gap between our domestic offices, keep staff in tune with the company strategy, empower rich internal content creation and have fun at the same time. Just this week, in the frenzy of a desk move, our CEO has been negotiating the safe return of a missing monitor ornament with unknown terrorists on behalf of a staff member. We owe this success to social media and have clearly proven that you CAN harness the power of trendy web solutions in VERY niche markets no matter how big or small. I look forward to sharing my experiences as we uncover and add more social applications to our intranet such as Wiki collaboration, employee status updates, news aggregation and intranet forums. I can’t help wondering if any other companies out here are implementing social software applications internally? If so, are there any best practices, trends or strategies? If not, why not?