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Letting the Barbarians through the Gates: Harnessing the power of social media

Letting the Barbarians through the Gates: Harnessing the power of social media

David White, Ksenia Zheltoukhova, Benjamin Reid and Mike Chiasson
05 October 2011

Social media and social technologies are revolutionising the relationship between customers and organisations. Many organisations are responding positively to this shift. But fewer seem to grasp that those millions of social media-savvy customers are also their employees. And organisations are not, in the main, extending the acceptance, tolerance and acknowledgement of the consumer opportunities of social media to their employees. Instead they see employee social media use as letting the barbarians through the gates – something to be defended against or stamped out. However, forward-thinking organisations have seen how enlightened strategies for social media use by employees can provide greater autonomy to employees, improve their engagement by connecting them to the customer more effectively, and can boost innovation across the organisation. We conclude with what we see as the implications for organisational strategy and HR practice of letting the barbarians through the gates.

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