by Natasha Oxenburgh, Social Programs Manager at Bluewolf

For most businesses being social means creating a Facebook page and setting up a Twitter account -- check those boxes and done.

In reality, a social business is about leveraging technology to unlock a new type of collaboration among your employees and with your customers. Whether it’s in your contact center, feeding product development, or simply a method of brand building, a thorough social strategy should impact every corner of your organization.

At first glance, internal collaboration may not seem as the sexiest part of the social revolution in the enterprise. However, a recent McKinsey report finds that “twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across [companies].” Fortune 500 companies are losing roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge internally among employees (Babcock, 2004, p. 46). Your key people - high-skill workers, including managers and professionals - are spending 28% of their workdays reading and responding to email and 19% of their time trying to track down information. The use of social technologies can cut these activities down by 20-25%.

Going social is about more than just increasing productivity -- it’s about innovation. What happens when you prioritize employee collaboration? Your company gets access to a larger pool of knowledge. Soon you’re solving business problems faster and increasing cycles of innovation. A collaborative internal work culture will ultimately drive external customer engagement and long-term growth of your company. That’s something every business needs.

At Bluewolf, we’ve lived through this cultural shift in the past year. As a rapidly growing global company, we made the move to innovate early on how to keep our dispersed workforce and clients connected. Our #GoingSocial initiative was about getting employees to use social platforms for both internal and external collaboration and to build their thought leadership.

We started with a baseline survey looking at the state of collaboration at the company. We found that most of our employees were using social media regularly (daily or weekly), but preferred to keep separate personal and professional social profiles. The challenges to further engagement were a “lack of time to contribute” and “necessity for some direction or training on social networks” - e.g. what content to share, how to engage, and how to add value to social conversations.

Since January this year, we’ve increased internal collaboration by 57%, driven a 68% increase in website traffic from social media platforms, seen a 8-fold increase in our own blogging community and a 150% increase in our blog traffic. We’ve driven these results through an integrated change management strategy - 1:1 coaching, social training, an interactive, multi-content #GoingSocial resource center, our Pack Profiles, and a gamification implementation.

Becoming social is a long journey for any company, but increasing internal collaboration and maximizing knowledge sharing should be the first and most impactful step of such a journey. It’s a shift that demands a commitment to transformation - a need to rip up the org chart and embrace transparency.

Who will own the revolution of internal and external communication at your organization? Who will prepare your business to take these new forms of collaboration to the next level?

To hear more about bringing social into your organization, stop by and meet the Bluewolf team at Dreamforce ‘12. Check out the super session with Bluewolf CEO Eric Berridge: 5 Ways To Create a Global, Customer-Obsessed Culture to Drive Profits. Take our Twitter poll which asks what you want to use social for in your business.