Enterprise sites allow companies to establish micro social networks within their firms where employees can communicate with their peers, partners, clients and others selected. But what about access to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in the workplace?
As we move into 2010, social media forecasters believe corporate guidelines and controls regarding social networking is going to move into high gear. One company called Socialware is introducing social middleware for enterprise sites to control on-the-job social networking in accordance with corporate policy and industry regulations.
Is Big Brother going to assert itself once again next year? Do we really need gatekeepers on the job? Alex Williams at ReadWriteWeb sees it as "companies setting up their own iron curtains to keep social interaction to a minimum."
As social as social networking is, many companies feel that if employees are left to their own wiles, they could represent the firm in a negative light. Many examples of this behavior surfaced last year that I documented in "Top Ten Branded Social Media Nightmares."
When the stylish furniture maker Habitat jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in a big way, it turned off a lot of prospective customers when one of its over exuberant employees was caught spamming. His self-promoting tweets included popular trending topics in the body of the tweet to attract attention. And as if hashtags# for a popular HBO drama like "True Blood" wasn't enough, the employee actually took advantage of the misfortunes of others by including "Mousavi" and the "Iran Election" in tweet updates during the June protests in Tehran.
So with the goal of managing risk, Socialware believes the missing component for enterprise sites is bridging the gap between enterprise systems and the social web, where IT managers will be able to block access to different features on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Socialware feels that they are the necessary glue that will connect the social world with the enterprise network.
This works as such. Users may be able to access LinkedIn but there may now be features that the employee is not permitted to utilize. Messages like the one below will make it very clear what features users will not have permission to use on the job.
As many of us know, LinkedIn is a business social network that many companies view as an employment opportunity resource. Building one's network on LinkedIn not only allows executives of various firms to communicate with clients and partners, it is also often a door-opener for those seeking new employment. Consequently companies cognizant of this take the position if an employee is going to seek alternate employment, this should not be done "on their clock."
A while back, I posted a tongue-and-cheek blog titled, "Social Media Nazi Says 'No Twitter For You.'" Anyone that remembers the classic Seinfeld episode, "Soup Nazi" will be able to relate to how companies are taking on that role in the corporate soup kitchens around the world!
It's a fine line for both corporations and their employees to tread, but one that many will see played out with much more enforcement in 2010. Just when we thought we could set up more direct lines of communications with our followers and friends online, now we will have to deal with Social Media middlemen. It seems to me, the "glue" that Socialware talks about connecting the social and enterprise worlds is going to get mighty sticky as more companies adapt to these types of processes.