Getting Started with Social Media for Knowledge Management

Getting Started with Social Media for Knowledge Management

Connie Crosby (Crosby Group Consulting, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5186-9.ch005


This chapter explores how, as social media tools and platforms become more common inside organizations, KM teams need to incorporate them into their toolbox. It is necessary to learn how they work and how they can be used to be effective in accomplishing the organization’s knowledge and information-related goals. It is not as easy as jumping onto Facebook or Twitter and suddenly engaging. The technology is more difficult to set up; getting buy-in from senior executives is not always easy; and getting a sufficiently wide adoption of the tools can be a challenge if employees are not ready for it. Planning and change management are needed to encourage success.
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Background: From Web 2.0 To The Enterprise Social Networking

The idea of “social business” or “enterprise social networking” may seem an oxymoron to some. Yet what are organizations if not collections of people serving the market, also made up of people? Knowledge management and social media (also known as “Web 2.0”) are two areas that emerged in parallel but largely apart until social tools such as blogs and wikis started to become adopted inside organizations. Social tools often accomplish some of the aims of KM; for example, knowledge sharing between people who have the knowledge and those who need it, and the capture of tacit knowledge for future use.

One of the first enterprise social networking instances was described by Andrew McAfee in his book Enterprise 2.0 (McAfee, 2009, p. 97). Serena Software replaced its unsuccessful intranet with the use of Facebook in October 2007:

Facebook gave its users tools to assemble a network of people, stay on top of what these people were doing, and provide their own updates to the network. Serena’s executives realized that these were just the activities needed to create a stronger sense of community within the company.

While use of Facebook was voluntary, Serena encouraged employees to learn its use with “Facebook Fridays.” Photos of co-workers on profiles proved most popular, allowing people to see what fellow staff looked like. Within 24 hours of the first Facebook Friday, half the staff had profile photos.

In his blog Wirearchy, Jon Husband explains (April 12, 2008):

It was not until the middle of 2006 that IT executives and managers began to realize that lightweight, easy-to-use-and-integrate capabilities for finding information, pulling it apart and putting it together again in different ways, and exchanging that information to build useful knowledge would probably transform key areas of knowledge work and its attendant dynamics.

Slowly but surely, many of our KM-related technologies have been adopting social functionality, making the sharing of information and knowledge easier. Husband goes on to state (April 12, 2008):

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