enterprise social media useAs enterprise-level social media use (slowly) becomes more widespread, more information is becoming available about how enterprise employees use social media to work. One interesting finding? Women are more likely to collaborate with social media, while men tend to use social tools to research competitors and expand their networks.

The analysis comes from a new study by Ipsos (and commissioned by Microsoft) that examined social media use in the enterprise. Overall, nearly half of respondents (46%) believe that social media tools make them more productive, a concrete counter-argument to a stereotypical belief that social media detracts from or impedes productivity.

What especially interests me, however, is how men and women use social tools differently. From these findings, you could guess that women tend to more highly value the “social” component of social media, while men are focused on the tools and functionality that help them get their work done.

Yet that doesn’t mean that women aren’t focused on social tools as productivity enablers, too. They’re almost neck-and-neck with men when it comes to using social media for sharing/reviewing documents, communicating with customers/clients, researching customers’/clients’ industries and researching their own companies.

What we find most interesting about the data (and our own experience with enterprise clients) is the underlying story: pay attention to how your employees use social media. Conduct an annual or semi-annual survey about social media use and education and use that data to help drive your move forward strategy with social. We work with our enterprise level clients on a regular basis doing just that. And it’s amazing what you can discover as a result that will help you along the way.

For example, on a survey we did for one of our enterprise level clients, we found employees responding that a medium percentage of respondents used social media channels to communicate. Additionally, they reported that their clients used social media channels to communicate, but they reported that they did not, overwhelmingly, ever use social media channels to communicate and engage with their clients. Missed opportunities, anyone? That survey data helped drive our strategy moving forward as we worked to educate seller doers across the enterprise about the opportunities they might be leaving on the table and how to remedy that.

Social tools are becoming a daily part of our business routine—and to ignore them or push them to the back burner is, well, not smart.

What’s your take on Ipsos’ findings? Do you see men and women using social differently in your organization? Do you see that evolving over time? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic—it’s something we spend a ton of time thinking about.

Lead image via TempusNova

Read more: Enterprise Social Media – Strategic Interview with Dell