Social Networking

Best Buy encourages gathering around the virtual water cooler.
Social Networking

Social networking is nothing new. It’s as old as the two-martini lunch or an afternoon on the links. But it evolves with each generation, and for Millennials, a lot of it takes place on Facebook and Twitter sites, or the lesser known Badoo and Qzone.

It’s probably not a big shocker that Richfield-based Best Buy is on top of this trend. In fact, already in 2006, the company launched its own in-house social networking platform called “Blue Shirt Nation.” It allowed store employees to share ideas and ask questions of anyone at any level throughout the organization, including the CEO.

Blue Shirt Nation has evolved since then into an even more robust network called Water Cooler. The idea is to encourage a culture where no one in the company is afraid to ask questions, experiment, or make mistakes. These forums feed innovation at Best Buy in everything from operations to customer service to improving the employee experience.

Other generations sometimes roll their eyes and dismiss Millennials’ online social networking as purely social. But savvy companies understand that great ideas come from many sources and don’t occur only in the context of work. They’re joining in the conversation on these new networks to see what business opportunities might be waiting there.

In our M-Factor survey, across the board the older generations were twice as likely as Millennials to be “very concerned” that social networking tools could create a big distraction at work. They had other concerns as well.

Bosses worry about issues of privacy and data security, but Millennials often seem oblivious to the threat. This was also reflected in our survey. Millennials were only half as concerned as their Boomer and Xer counterparts about social networking tools creating security or privacy issues at work.

Finally, even though older generations seem to view social networking as something that belongs in the personal realm, in our M-Factor survey, more than 70 percent of Boomers and Xers agreed that a candidate’s personal behavior on social networking sites would influence their decision to hire or promote someone.

Those findings mesh with survey results from the Pew Research Center that show how use of social networking sites has increased among all generations, but less among older ones. (The Pew’s “Silent” generation equates approximately to our “Traditionalist” generation.)