When social media came onto the scene in the early 2000’s it changed the way that people connect over the internet. No longer was email and instant messaging the main source of communication. People now used social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to send and receive messages from their friends and business associates.
However, as this form of social interaction evolved, new and innovative methods of collaboration came to the forefront. As a result, online collaboration has become one of the most important and most used avenues for companies and business professionals in Canada and around the world to connect.
In this sense, online collaborative tools have shifted the way people communicate. Because of its ease and effectiveness, online collaborative methods have reduced the need for people to communicate over the phone or meet in person to work on projects that requires input from multiple sources.
Online collaboration, primarily through the use of social media tools changed the way businesses use the internet and changed if from being a relatively passive form of technology to include the follow components:
- Participation: Online collaborative tools has allowed business to not only distribute information to their customers, but also allow them to participate in the development of product and services by asking questions and polling customers through collaborative applications.
- Sharing: Collaborative tools have make information sharing much more efficient. Internet users can easily send links and files over social media as well as post resources on collaborative spaces such as wikis.
- Openness: Online collaborative has make openness and honesty very important. It is much more difficult to hide things in a collaborative environment. And, when things do get out, companies will quickly be called out and their actions will be up for open debate. Therefore, it is much better to be honest and accept your mistakes rather than attempting to keep them from your customers and the public.
- Global scope: Collaboration over the internet is done on a global scale. Therefore, small companies, entrepreneur as well as enterprises all have an equal playing field to build a name for their brand. And, if an individual or company offer valuable information or resources, they have the ability to be rewarded on a large scale.
Online collaborative tools
While there is no shortage of collaborative tools today, here are some of the most effective for both business and personal use:
- Wikis: We have all heard of Wikipedia and there is no doubt that it is one of the largest and most successful online collaborative tools. However, what most people do not know is that they can create their own private wiki to allow multiple users to develop content and ideas, with each user having the ability to build on existing content.
- Social networking: Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow users to not only communicate but also collaborate through a number of apps and tools.
- Online meeting: Online meeting software and websites such as Skype and Go To Meeting allow users to conduct meetings, share files and collaborate over the internet without having to meet in person.
Online collaboration and social media has led to more transparency and companies that do not accept this will only suffer. Companies that have succeeded have taken advantage of online collaborative tools and social media to include their customers in the conversation.
This includes both positive and negative feedback related to their products and service. Companies cannot afford to ignore customers when things go wrong. Rather they need to use collaborative tools as a way to rectify issues and be an active participant in the conversation.
People understand that issues will arise. It is how a company addresses these issues that make the difference to customers. Own your mistakes and your customers will be more accepting and understanding.
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