Social Networking within corporations

Social networking in a corporate environment can be extremely powerful if used correctly.

I have seen WIKI’s on back ends to manage definitions, rules, and how-to documents in the IT arena, but also for other general information and to submit ideas for discussion. Outside of the WIKI format, in the intranet of a major corporation, I believe having a profile based system will help people to be able to put names to faces, and to allow individuals the opportunity to connect in deeper professional levels.

Having blogs, forums, discussion boards, and workspaces with goals, document sharing, and project management can really help to keep everyone informed of what is going on. Online collaboration tools like Central Desktop ( is a wonderful, easy to use, and clean way to put together teams in a professional environment, share documents, allow discussion, version tracking, and even hold meetings, all online!

One of the most valuable aspects of social networking and the tools associated with it I feel is the increase in access and ability to educate. Professional growth is a huge desire for people. Once inside of a company, many people can feel trapped if they are unable to get any continued training or education to allow them the opportunities of growth. By implementing an intranet social environment learning resources can be globally shared, classes and seminars can be announced and scheduled, as well as discussed and rated.

Depending on the structure of your company, you may feel comfortable with something like WordPress MU (, and then built up with the new BuddyPress ( you can now host multiple blog users on one account and with BuddyPress create profiles and open the door to IMing, group creation, and work friends. Groups can be your company softball team, your safety team, your charity team, and so on. There is a section for picture albums, which is great for special events, and the result of last week’s softball game.

If you have a more sophisticate IT and UX team you can use Joomla ( which is free, and then install Community Builder ( to incorporate profile building and sharing, but by using the Joomla platform you now have a very powerful CMS that can organize content, turn on the forum, install all kinds of plug-ins that allow for document and picture sharing, you can create blogs, company news, calendars, media sharing, etc, all with free open source tooling!

Another free online tool available is called Ning ( Here you can use the free account to build your own social network. If you buy a more advanced account you can expand customizations, and over all accessibility to the site structure, and have a dedicated URL instead of a subdomain. Either way, the free tool makes it extremely easy to get into creating a social network with very little effort.

Social networks should be looked at as tools, especially inside of a company. If it’s perceived as anything else other than a useful tool for growth and advancement, then you may miss the valuable benefits and miss the opportunity to increase your company’s internal growth.

In essence, social networking in a corporate environment can be very easy to implement, and will increase morale, team building, productivity, friendships in the workplace, and can lead to greater tenure in your company. Once you create your new social network for your company, take the time, and make the effort to encourage people to use it and explore it. You will find many benefits from this type of tool.

(This was a response to a Q&A on LinkedIn by Andy Smith. Original question:
How could you see social networking technology deployed in the enterprise changing your business?

I find enterprise software often expensive, inflexible, ugly and closed. Popular personal social networking tools are beautiful, fast, cheap and flexible but lightweight and the value of the underlying data is often trivial (how I feel about what I had for dinner).

What could you imagine would be improved (e.g. mentoring, knowledge transfer, ideation, etc) and how if "Facebook tech" were effectively deployed at your company? Is anyone already doing this well?

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One Response

  1. Hi Erik,

    Thanks so much for contributing your opinion on how easy Central Desktop is to use.

    Central Desktop

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