Social Media Collaboration
Collaboration, or co-laboring, refers to the joint participation of two or more parties in a project. It can take place between employees, teams and departments, but also between bilateral groups like business/customers, business/suppliers or business/stakeholders. As business is essentially done through partnerships and teamwork, collaboration is a crucial element that turns the wheel of business.
Social media allows much more efficient collaboration to take place by making it easier to share information, store knowledge, work together and dissolve any geographical limit that may exist between collaborators. In turn, by facilitating collaboration, social media contributes to creating high-performance teams, which then translates into increased productivity and profitability.
As we saw in the article Social Media Applications Guide, social media provides major business opportunities for collaboration through four main applications: Freelance Platforms, Project and Team, DIY Wiki Platforms and DIY Social Networks. This article will explain how this exactly happens through some social media examples.
1. Freelance platforms:
The rise of freelance platforms has facilitated business greatly as companies can use external resources whenever there is a lack of skills or resources at peak times or during one-off projects. Through these platforms, business can carry on and internal and external contractors are able to all work as part of the same company team. All kinds of freelancers can be found nowadays, from those who can offer general skills to those who have very technical ones. Companies can therefore find the ‘ideal’ candidate to participate in a project, depending on the project’s needs and budget.
- Elance is a freelance platform that has more than 100,000 freelancers registered on it. Potential employers or clients can visit the site, post a job opening, invite freelancers to make a bid and then choose the freelancer that shows the best expertise and proposal. Elance also provides guaranteed payment by holding the funds agreed on and then releasing them to the freelancer once both parties are satisfied.
- oDesk is similar to Elance, but in addition it allows clients to interview freelancers before hiring them. It also has built-in messaging and chatting systems so that more effective communication between client and freelancer can take place.
Cory Rogers, the Marketing Director at PrintingHQ.com has posted on Elance himself and says in his own words that: “There are times when my team doesn’t have the technical ability or the time to complete the more complex coding or design for our website. When these occasions arise, I find that Elance is an invaluable resource in finding highly skilled freelancers that are able to provide exactly what we need in a timely and cost efficient manner.”
2. Project and Team:
With technical advances, employees do not need to be limited by the four walls of their offices any longer. Online document management system, smartphones, laptops, tablets and other cutting-edge devices make it possible to transform collaboration into a flexible experience for both employee and project supervisors by working from different locations, streamlining the work process and easily keeping tracks of projects.
- Wrike is a project management platform that makes it possible to manage several projects from one online workspace. Project documents can be stored online so that collaborators can access them from anywhere and at anytime. The site also allows project supervisors to see the ‘big picture’ of a current project.
- Zoho: this collaboration site can be used to run business processes and manage information with over 20 different applications available including project management, applications, invoicing and web conferencing tools.
Example: Accenture created the Accenture Media Exchange, a video-sharing application with a video-conferencing feature and webcams giving 360 degree views of conference rooms in several crucial Accenture locations around the world. Accenture Media Exchange, which is the company’s very own project management tool, has allowed Accenture people to share knowledge, provide training, and collaborate on projects from virtually anywhere across the globe.
3. DIY Wiki Platforms:
Do-It-Yourself Wiki Platforms are wikis that are internal to companies that make it much easier to share information and manage projects internally. Wiki platforms allow user-generated content to be created, developing what becomes an internally accessible encyclopedia. Different kinds of content can be shared from this central site like articles, spreadsheets, text, RSS feeds and videos, among others.
- PBworks is a commercial collaborative editing platform in real-time format. It is the world’s largest provider of hosted collaboration business solutions, with more than one million team workspaces.
- Wetpaint is a platform that provides low-cost content based on social publishing, through an interface that is similar to blogs. Through a click-and-type process, it is very easy to add or edit content on a Wetpaint site of the group which has access to it.
Example: Red Ant, a web design and development company in Sydney, uses its own internal Wiki as the major collaboration tool amongst employees and between employees and clients. Employees can update the internal Wiki with a new design for instance, which would then be made accessible to other employees to edit and improve, before making it available for the client to view and make changes on it as well if the need arises. This internal Wiki is an integral part of Red Ant’s workflow.
4.DIY Social Networks:
Do-It-Yourself Social Networks follow the same logic as Do-It-Yourself Wiki Platforms. These are internal social networks, allowing collaborators to interact with each other, share knowledge internally, and often allowing companies to integrate their own applications into the site. DIY Social Networks are a very good solution for companies wishing to take advantage of the business opportunities offered by social networks, without using popular sites like Facebook.
- Ning: this DIY social networking tool offers the most professional and user-friendly features for creating fully functional as well as visually interesting social networks from A to Z, in just a few minutes.
- KickApps: this is a more advanced application designed for web developers. This site allows the integration of social networking features into a company’s existing site. This means that companies do not have to create an internal social network from scratch if they do not want to.
Example: Suncorp used Yammer, a social network tool for enterprises, in order to create more collaboration within its company. The internal social network became very popular in the company and allowed members to surmount both hierarchy and geographical limits, as well as get involved in an exchange of ideas for more innovation.