Most articles here at Sprout Insights offer advice and recommendations about managing your brand’s social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and their ilk are important for building connections with customers and broadly sharing information about your business.

But more and more companies are realizing that while public social media has many benefits, there are also perks to implementing a smaller, private network just for your brand. These perks range from improvements in everyday work processes to intangible changes, such as better bonds among your employees. Here are a few reasons why an internal social network is worth considering.

Talking Over the Distance

An internal social network can have the most noticeable impact on businesses with employees spread across large distances. That could be an enterprise company with branches in different cities, or an online venture with people contributing from different places. Internal social networks are more timely than emails and require less infrastructure than conference calls, so your whole staff can stay on top of assignments — even when there are last-minute changes or updates.

Even if you run a local office, adopting an internal social network means your employees can work remotely without going incommunicado. This flexibility can be an excellent benefit for your team members. Researchers have investigated the impact of working from home, and many have determined that for certain jobs and tasks, being remote makes for happier, more productive employees.

In any situation, internal networks mean fast communication. That’s a key to keeping your team connected and efficient, no matter what the size of your company.

Creating a Digital Corporate Culture

Many enterprise business applications are focused on the work side: managing tasks, connecting departments, and supporting customers. However, it’s just as important to encourage some focus on the relationships and interactions among your staff.

We’ve addressed the importance of making conscious choices to develop your company culture, and the decision to implement a social network can be a part of that. It creates a framework for how your employees interact, and your policies for their interactions will go a long way toward setting the tone of your workplace.

Since social networks are the medium for so many of us to communicate in our personal lives, it makes sense to have dedicated systems for our business lives as well. It’s a practice that is becoming more and more familiar, and is clearly not a passing fad. Giving your team an internal network allows them to work better, but also encourages them to be truly social. Making communications easy, and at times, fun, can make for stronger work relationships. Ideally, that means your team will be more comfortable and more productive when working together.

It’s Fast Becoming the Norm

We usually suggest caution before blindly jumping on a new social media bandwagon, but the idea of an internal social network for companies is no longer new. In fact, it’s an industry on the rise, and the proof of its benefits for business is in the numbers. For example, the International Data Corporation predicts revenue of about $4.5 billion for enterprise social by 2016.

Sprout Insights got to chat with Maria Ogneva, director of community at Yammer, about how enterprise social media works in a company setting. She said that social networks are becoming so integrated into daily life that it may turn into a basic component of business. “We see a future where social business is just going to be called business,” she said.

Whereas public social media is dominated by a handful of platforms, there are many companies vying to serve businesses with internal networks. That means you can look for an option that offers the exact features you need and will best serve your team. That may mean fewer new productivity apps and systems for your staff to learn. With the ability to customize and to streamline your communications, it makes sense for businesses to adopt some form of internal social network.

Does your business have an internal social network? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: lululemon athletica, Victor1558, Ed Yourdon, Phil Campbell]