Social media has been successfully adapted by a few MNC’s as channels for research and innovation. They have also shown their potential in promoting knowledge sharing and team building. The value of social media technology to improving overall organizational effectiveness is borne by statistical and empirical evidence. The use of Twitter for professional enhancement is well established now. The educational philosophy of constructivism offers a strong rationale for greater social media integration within the organization. These days, just as the sweep and reach of social media has increased, so have the niche media spaces that facilitate the interaction. Hence, beyond the prominent household names of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, we now have other specialized avenues for interaction like wiki portals and Youtube repositories of learning videos. In today’s competitive business environment, it is imperative for mutli-national companies to adopt social media strategies for external and internal communication
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc can be useful allies for managers in promoting knowledge sharing and team building. If applied selectively and appropriately, these media facilities can be sources of innovation and problem solving within the business corporation. The term ‘social media’ is a bit misleading and off-putting for managers, as it sounds as an avenue for recreation and time-pass. But when one understands the full scope of possible activities that could be carried out through these sites its utility for managers becomes clear. Another positive aspect of social media sites is their malleability/customizability to specific organizational purposes and goals. Beyond the prominent sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, there are a host of more specialized sites for sharing pictures or bookmarks or applications have cropped up. There are also niche professional blogs and wikis which are seeing steady increase in patronage. (Zielinski, 2012) The objective of this essay is to argue in affirmation of the positive role of social media to improve knowledge sharing, build social capital, support innovation and aid problem solving in multinational corporations.
Social media as a tool for innovation and research:
A key area where social media sites differ from conventional sites is the content. The former generate their own content, “collaboratively creating, editing, sharing, tagging, and organizing information, reshaping the contributions of others and engaging in peer-to-peer discussion. These are emergent technologies, meaning that structure and content and even application emerge with use, from the needs and activities of the users.” (“The Revolution Will Be,” 2011) And it is in this feature of dynamic and contemporaneous content that best suits knowledge sharing exercises. This feature is as well suited to the organizational task of building social capital. Management thinker James Surowiecki has argued in his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, that by tapping the power of social media and in creating goal-specific discussion forums etc, substantial social capital can be built. In forums such as these, people from diverse backgrounds and opinions can bring to table “shrewd judgments and creative solutions”. The management can play a constructive role in this process by setting up apt mechanisms to collect and assimilate feedbacks, inputs and opinions. Surowiecki’s concept is closely aligned with that of ‘crowd-sourcing’, which is an emerging model of employee participation in the creative processes of business development. And social media outlets have been the backbone of prominent examples of crowd-sourcing. (“The Revolution Will Be,” 2011)