Picture-Perfect Connections

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

Using social media to attract and retain customers and drive revenue requires more than a simple online presence: It requires a focused, well-planned business strategy.

Picture-Perfect Connections

Social networking is also a valuable tool for managing employee communication and ratcheting up knowledge sharing. At Getty Images, a leading creator and distributor of still imagery, video and film footage, and multimedia products, the sharing of ideas and expertise spins a tight orbit around business success.

Getty Images has more than 1,800 employees spread across more than a hundred countries. In the past, it was difficult to share information and expertise across the company. “A lot of communication was driven by e-mail,” notes Jennifer Fox, director of learning and development.

After researching how best-in-class companies are tapping into social networking, the company built a highly interactive environment that allows free-flowing conversations. Employees, through a dashboard called Mixer, view and share resources, including questions, comments, videos and expertise.

The company uses software from Socialtext to tie everything together. Employees, who establish their own profiles, use tagging and signaling (the latter is the equivalent of a tweet on Twitter or a status line update on Facebook) to complement blogs and wikis. “An employee with knowledge about a particular part of the business can tag himself or herself, and others can find this person when they need to tap into the expertise,” Fox points out.

Employees also can post signals when they need assistance to translate a note, find a good hotel in Paris or understand a feature in the company’s sales system. The signal stream creates new connections and a sense of collaboration, Fox says. In addition, employees can fully access Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social media services directly within their dashboard.

The business value of social media has transformed Getty Images. “A misconception about social networking is that it’s distracting and takes the focus away from work,” says Fox, “but the reality is that it builds relationships and creates a higher level of efficiency and engagement.”

Author Libert adds: “A lot of organizations fail to understand that a two-way or multi-way conversation is far more powerful than a one-way communication. There’s enormous value in connectedness.”

This article was originally published on 2011-04-06
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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