Sure, everyone’s starting to get social-networking fatigue: new sites are popping up a dime a dozen (think of how many invites you receive on a weekly basis and how exhausting it can be to manage your profiles). And even teens and college students are tiring of Facebook, especially in the light of recent news that it will open up to Google searches. But some savvy corporations are coming up with truly innovative ways to develop and implement internal, secure social networks with the goal of retaining talent and fostering collaboration among employees — even former employees or ex-interns who might work at other companies.
OK, so that last sentence might have sounded a bit hyperbolic, but in the case of a new Siemens social network, these ideas just might become reality. Launched in the last week, the Siemens Scholar Network is an intriguing example of how social networks can evolve and tap into Generation Y’s experience on Facebook.
The network solicited 2,500 former Siemens scholars to join. In two days, 277 signed up to build Facebook-style profiles and network with fellow alums of the Siemens program, which invites bright young students to work on projects with the company. Beyond the typical social-network opportunity to create online profiles and post blog entries, members of the network can peruse Siemens job and internship opportunities on the secure, invite-only site. (Although it should be noted that the site and the scholarship program are operated by the non-profit Siemens Foundation, so Siemens does not directly recruit on the new social-networking site, although job listings are posted there.)
Although Siemens clearly decided to create a non-Facebook social network (i.e., it didn’t simply opt for creating a Siemens Scholar group on Facebook and instead created a separate one that’s truly private), the company still acknowledges Facebook’s power. Siemens is asking members of the Siemens Scholar Network to promote the site on Facebook, too, to help find alums of the scholarship program — and lure them back to a Siemens branded site that’s also a gated intellectual community.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.