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Adopt social collaboration tools with a purpose

When my brother and I were kids, and my father thought we were doing something particularly stupid — like hiding all of my sister’s Hungry Hungry Hippos marbles inside the base of a basketball hoop — he would say, “Don’t be an idiot for the sake of being an idiot.” That advice really rings true when it comes to adopting social collaboration software in the enterprise.

These kinds of platforms, such as SharePoint, Slack and Yammer, offer messaging, communications and content sharing features that help foster teamwork among employees. But IT shouldn’t add a social collaboration platform just for the sake of having a social collaboration platform. Admins need concrete goals such as providing a place for users to share information or work on documents, and they must communicate those reasons to users. If they don’t, the platform will fail.

With the right goals, social collaboration tools can bring huge benefits. Some platforms have blogs or wikis where users can post something for the entire company to see, making it easy to disperse important messages or other content. Others allow users to create targeted groups and include relevant team members. Users can also share with each other how to make simple tech fixes, so IT admins don’t waste time on small problems such as forgotten passwords.

Social collaboration platforms make life simpler for mobile users, too. Email, for example, can quickly become unwieldy. Ever tried to keep up with a group thread on an iPhone? A collaboration tool that offers a mobile app can help avoid all that scrolling and long messages not meant for the small screen.

I know the benefits of social collaboration from experience. A few months back, our team started using Slack to collaborate. Of course, we use it to share funny links and an unhealthy amount of wrestling videos, but we mostly use the platform to come up with story ideas, develop headlines, communicate workflow changes and more. We have even turned some of our Slack conversations into blog posts.

Slack met a need for our group that email and instant messaging couldn’t — allowing team members to bounce ideas off each other anytime, anywhere. It wasn’t just social collaboration for social collaboration’s sake. My father would be proud.