Is 2011 the Year of the Social Enterprise?

Over the past few years, much of the focus on social media has been how consumers are using Facebook, Twitter, et al, and how brands have embraced social media to engage with consumers.

Lost within this flurry of activity has been how social media has been embraced internally by companies looking to leverage the benefits of social media without having to deal with the non-work downsides or distractions. Slowly but surely, social media appears to be gaining significant tractions as a way to improve corporate communications, productivity and efficiency.

This was highlighted in a recent New York Times story about how the growing number of companies using internal social media tools such as Chatter, a social networking service created by, and Yammer, a corporate version of Twitter.

The slow adoption of social media by business users is not terribly surprising given how change, in general, doesn’t happen very quickly within the corporate landscape. While consumers have been wildly enthusiastic about social media, many businesses are still trying to get their heads around whether it is something they should use as a communications, marketing and sales tool. It is difficult, therefore, for these businesses to also consider the use of social media internally.

That said, the internal use of social media may be an easier and safer way for companies to embrace social media. With a growing number of corporate social media players, companies can figure out the benefits of social media to improve their businesses, and then shift the focus to external audiences.

This approach would let them experiment, make mistakes and learn without public scrutiny. At the same time, it might also help to justify the importance and ROI of social media.

It might be premature to declare 2011 to be the year of the social enterprise but there is no doubt social media is gaining more traction as an internal tool.

This trend is likely bound to gain momentum as more services are created for corporate users. And as more companies use these kind of tools, it will encourage other companies to climb on the bandwagon.