Social Networking and Your Business

Last Updated Feb 15, 2007 8:42 PM EST

Companies like Microsoft and the United States Marines use social networking sites like MySpace not only to screen bad candidates out, but to woo potential new employees. But social networking applications haven't caught on for internal use in many companies even when it makes sense to use them. Wikis for example, which users can contribute to on their own time, seem like a perfect way for busy employees to collaborate when they don't have time to sit in one room to hash out ideas.

The day will soon come when blogs, MySpace-like personal pages for internal company use, and wikis will be common fixtures throughout the business world. Later this year IBM will roll out Lotus Connections, a package of social networking tools designed for enterprise use.  Here's MarketWatch columnist Bambi Francisco take on why internal social networking for businesses has been slow to catch on and why these applications can help companies.

"Old habits die hard, and legacy systems and old contracts are hard to drop. Additionally, corporate America is not as egalitarian as MySpace or Wikipedia. Rather it's a hierarchy that forms a pyramid. 

She says social networking in the workplace scares some people because they don't see how they can stand out and climb the corporate ladder if the bulk of their work is collaborative. She continues:

"At the end of the day, Web 2.0 and social networks are really about networking, communicating and collaborating quickly and efficiently. It's not really changing who we are and how we relate to one another. We all network because we are relational people."

Industrial-strength social networking apps may not make sense for everybody  -- freelancers and some small businesses may not have use for them. But it can work for larger companies in the tech, financial and automotive industries for example, where communication and collaboration are integral for success. These applications are designed for efficiency, and if they help businesses perform better, you can bet more companies will jump on the social networking bandwagon.