Throughout the unit we have learnt about many of the social tools available on the internet including blogs, wikis and the more mainstream social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
But is there more to cover? Of course there is there are many, many unique social tools which aim to increase productivity, collaboration and enforce other Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 principles. Obviously I can’t discuss them all so I’ll just mention a few I have been using.
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It comes as no secret that more and more companies are turning to the clouds and using social networks as business tools for increasing profits, communication and much more!

A large number of big brand companies have also implemented social media usage guidelines and even training within their organization to better protect the reputation of the company. These guidelines came out of a necessity to not only protect other employees but also to ensure the company’s image is not ruined by misuse of these tools.

An example of a company who has not had the best run with social media is Nestle (example originally found by Andrew). The employee in charge of social media communication clearly neglected the guidelines and even common sense for that matter. Threatening to ban a user for simply using the company logo as an avatar is absurd in an online environment where freedom of speech is taken to a whole new level. This is an excellent example of how 1 person can greatly diminish the reputation of a company through just a few comments.
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Wikis has proven time and time again to be a useful collaboration and communication tool with the primary usage being as an aggregation tool for multiple entities to contribute small amounts of information pertaining to a specific topic.

One of the largest wikis is Wikipedia an online encyclopaedia created by contributors from around the world. Being such a large wiki both in users and in content it truly shows how useful a wiki can be. Whilst Wikipedia is a constant subject of vandalism these problems are often rectified rather quickly and in many cases the quality of the content is comparable to that of commercial encyclopaedias and in some cases even better with a larger variety of available information which is more up to date.

But enough with Wikipedia, this blog post is about how corporations are using Wikipedia.
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As of recently many companies have taken to the internet as an alternative to more conventional channels such as television and radio. Almost all large companies now have a twitter account which they use to engage and keep in touch with the community and as a tool for them to build their user base as well as to market their products/services.

An example of a company which is getting involved in blogging is the Red Cross. As a complement to their blog they also have a twitter account which boasts a massive 186,837 followers as of September 13, 2010. That is a phenomenal boost of 182,639 from just one year ago and exposes just how viral these social networking sites are. The Red Cross twitter account is used to make the operations of the company more transparent as well as for marketing in which they “tweet” short blurbs of information about disasters happening around the world to persuade viewers to donate to help the cause.

Despite the largely positive potential blogging and micro-blogging may carry with it there is even larger potential at jeopardizing ones-self or an entire company with just one slip up. This is not something that is new and can often be avoided by following company protocol before making any material public. An example of a recent slip up is Stephanie Rice’s homophobic tweet which despite being deleted only moment after being published has resulted in the loss of her contract with Jaguar and severely damaged her reputation which will undoubtedly affect any possible future sponsorship.
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Legal risks are an important factor to consider in using social media within the business and also external parties using social media outside of the business. Risks from internal use can be easily managed through the implementation of a usage policy which outlines what employees can and cannot do in regards to the usage of the social systems. However the external parties require a much more different approach which can require the business to act swiftly to solve customers’ problems and provide excellent service in order to avoid bad PR.
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Many workplaces are discovering the usefulness social software and have now begun utilizing mainstream social systems such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for advertising their brand and communication with customers as well as implementing in-house systems for communication and collaboration within the organization.

These tools have proven very useful in completing hobby projects between many parties who are unable to directly interact with one another and are now finally emerging into the business world. But what took employers so long to catch onto this revolution and why are so many still holding onto the old ways of communication rather than embracing Enterprise 2.0? The answer is simple they fail to see past the risks of these systems. The benefits are there and they are most definitely notable but many employers see it these tools as virtual water coolers in which employees gather to engage in “chit-chat” but they are so much more than this and have much more these systems if well.
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There is an ever-growing amount of web 2.0 tools available with more and more popping up and gaining popularity every week and most businesses are failing to embrace this technology boom and go to the trouble of installing software to deny users access to these technologies at the workplace.

The reason for this is because most people are under the delusion that these tools are not the least bit useful and are simply time wasters inside of an organization. This is not surprising as people primarily associate sites like Facebook, browsing random YouTube videos and forums with the web 2.0 concepts. They fail to look past this and consider how useful tools like forums and wikis can be inside of the workplace for communication between employees and announcements from higher ups. Other sites like Twitter and YouTube are great freely available marketing assets for getting your brand known as those sites have a large and diverse user base.
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