Illumination is Near: Balancing Transparency and Privacy in the Social Space

Jennifer Callahan

I was fortunate to attend Jive World 2012 in October, and sat in on a number of sessions regarding community management, and internal and external communities. One of the presentations, “Breaking Down Walls: Work in Private with Anyone, Anywhere,” resonated with me. The idea that privacy is possible no matter how public your space, is good news to many businesses.


As Social Edge clients develop internal or external communities, we always recommend considering various approaches to balancing the needs of different populations within those groups. Internal communities reflect the diversity of the organization they serve. Each group within the online community has different goals, although they are meant to serve the business as a whole. For most groups within an organization, the benefits to transparency through an online community are many, including opportunities for product innovation and increased employee productivity. 


There are certain verticals that need to restrict access to their documents and processes (human resources, legal), and security can be provided through private groups, members-only communities, and documents locked by the author to prevent alterations. Remember there is also a firewall between your company’s online community and the rest of the world to protect your business from exposure.


External communities serve to increase communications between you and your client, and resolve problems in real-time. Sharing with clients in an online forum may seem daunting, but it’s more common sense than anything. Just realize you and your employees need to use the same judgment when posting to an external collaboration platform as when they leverage LinkedIn, email or any other public forum. We advise our Social Edge clients that with the proper security measures, the exchanges between client and service provider will reap numerous benefits, including a better understanding of client needs.


The most challenging part of managing your online community is reminding individuals or groups that collaboration outside of their silo is very helpful and can help advance the cause of the business as a whole. The benefit to social collaboration tools such as Jive include providing faster communication, breaking down business silos, and sharing expertise and best practices across the enterprise. Isn’t that why you got involved with Jive in the first place?