Social Media Rise and Roadblocks In the Business World

Year 2010 was a transformational year for social media in the business world as Facebook and Twitter stamped their authority beyond doubt. I expect businesses to step up the ante on their social media efforts in 2011 and make the most out of this revolution. And I’m not the only person who’s bullish on the bright prospects of social media in the business world. A number of surveys by prestigious research and consulting firms including Gartner and IDC have indicated that social media will rule the roost in the business community in the coming years.

A recently concluded survey titled “How Informal Learning Is Transforming the Workplace: A Pulse Survey on Social Media’s Impact on Informal Workplace Learning.” By Cara Group indicates that nearly 81% of respondents believe that social media offer valuable learning opportunities for their workforce.

However, the survey is not all about a rosy picture of social media in the business world. It projects lower productivity, security and quality of source as some of the biggest challenges for enterprise-scale adoption of social media.

Survey Results

A pessimist can look at this survey’s results and point out that there are too many hurdles to make social media a viable proposition for the business fraternity. On the contrary, a social media loyalist (myself included) would be pleased to know that social media is now a norm rather than an exception in the business world and plan on how to eliminate the roadblocks.

Of course, there are plenty of positives for business usage of social media from this survey including

  • 81% of respondents feel social media offer valuable learning opportunities for employees
  • 98% of respondents agree that social media are changing how employees are learning and accessing information

The survey polled 125 learning and training leaders at businesses across the U.S. The top five sectors represented in the survey include healthcare, pharmaceuticals/biotech, telecommunications, financial services and insurance. Participants came from organizations of all sizes, including small and mid-size firms, as well as global enterprises that exceed more than $40 billion in annual revenue.

Social Media Challenges

As I mentioned earlier, the CARA group survey does a fantastic job of listing the top business concerns over social media usage. Once a lesser-known paradigm, internal corporate networking sites are gaining acceptance in the business world.

Businesses are resorting to a variety of tactics for tackling the privacy and security challenges in the social media world. Closed User Groups, Intranets and access control policies have gained importance as businesses look to tame the social media monster. Businesses are spending time educating their workforce on how to make best use of social media in a productive manner.

If used optimally, social media can provide a major boost for businesses in more than one ways – marketing, customer service, social commerce and several other relatively unexplored avenues. If used inappropriately, it can be hamper employee and business productivity. It’s a fine line, is your business prepared to cross it? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.


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