Don’t be afraid to use social media for teamwork and team building

Nearly half the world is already online. By 2017 over 50 percent of the world’s population will be connected.
What do you think those people (we) do online? 
Whether for business, pleasure or curiosity, social media and social networks are, for many reasons, our focus. With a growing number of niche and business social networks, such online engagement has largely changed the way we communicate, collaborate and do business.
Social media evolved into powerful management tools, no longer being the weapon for marketers to reach their users and promote a brand - successful businesses use social media to create a cohesive work atmosphere and improve teamwork, workflow and team bonding. 
Companies need to have a good internet use policy to benefit from social media, which doesn’t involve only their management and marketing teams, but rather the policy that includes all employees and creates (a sense of) community. Businesses with very strict rules about social media usage, (some even blocking it from work), however, are doing more bad for the company, business and employees.
Utilizing social media for better brand awareness and online image differs from using it to bring workflow and team bounding, and improve work atmosphere, mainly communication and collaboration, the two most important factors for success.
When it comes to remote workers and distributed teams, choosing the right collaborative technology and the best business software is a priority, however, investing in these tools might bring more negative than positive results.
How? Collaboration is the force that brings team members together, however, often these tools cannot foster out-of-the-office relationships and virtual collaboration can be difficult. Employees need to experience familiar (online) places to be able to use all benefits of collaborative software and tools.
How should you use social media?
Use social media to make communication a priority: managers and leaders of virtual teams tend to forget that teams are created of people who have different mind-sets, needs, skills, knowledge and ambition.
It’s in our nature to connect, bond and communicate, but people are more prone to communicate and collaborate with those that are similar to them in many different ways.
To have your team communicate effectively managers need to listen, to create an atmosphere of openness that foster creative thinking. Companies that allow their employees more freedom in work, and to work remotely, reported revenue growth of 10% or more in the last year. An LRN study found that companies in which employees have “high levels of freedom” in their relationships outperform companies with low freedom scores. Companies that use social media and network for team communication and internal purpose see higher level of productivity.
Use social media to train for collaboration: collaborative technology of your choice is an invaluable instrument for effective collaboration only when teams are “trained in collaboration”.
Unlike leadership, that some experts believe is more natural, collaboration is a skill everyone can learn. Employees that have more freedom in their work are more likely to learn collaborative skills faster and implement them in their daily routines. Using social media to improve communication, networking and build relationships, managers can better target the skills their team members need to learn to foster collaboration. 
Use social media for team bonding: social media can offer good team building experience. It’s harder to get geographically distributed teams at the same location for team building activities, but successful bonding time can happen in virtual realities and be as good as in person.
If your team is using social networks to communicate, let them design and create virtual boards where they can share their hobbies and interests, plans, and ideas, a board where they can upload photos or their art projects.
Use social media to align professional and personal goals: every employee with a social media account promotes a company in different ways, and employees are usually the biggest promoters of business. The more creative freedom the employees have, the better they will perform, and the greater are the chances that their personal goals will be aligned with the professional ones. Business that set clear roles for their team members perform better and collaborate more efficiently. 
How do you use social media for teamwork? 


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