Social software of all flavors generates a lot of buzz these days, but is there any business value beneath the glossy veneer of hype? When it comes to social content management, the answer is a resounding yes. Combining social technology tools with effective content management creates a more productive, connected work environment.

In a mobile world where people don’t always work in the same office and the water cooler is often virtual, efficient forms of collaboration are more valuable than ever.

Email doesn’t cut it. Not only is email communication time consuming (not to mention spammy), it simply is not organized for efficient search, workflow, or document storage.

A content management platform is the broader expression of a document management application that essentially adds structure to all types of unstructured content, such as images, documents, contracts, etc. The structure includes a wide set of services that range from version control to workflow to assigning tags, or metadata, to the content for better classification and search.

The natural pairing of social tools -- for functionality such as message boards, relationship networks, activity streams -- with a content management platform facilitates and encourages quick interactions, project- and community-centric exchanges, and easy access to group activities. The end result is collaboration around content in a way that is more closely aligned with the way we work.

For example, consider a project lifecycle. The project starts, an initial meeting gathers a group, content such as meeting minutes and the project requirements and scope documentation is generated. The requirements document may need to be circulated among team members, and perhaps outside the group, for comments and contributions.

A social and collaborative project workspace to centralize and manage team collaboration, interactions, and the content lifecycle eliminates the need for back-and-forth email exchanges, and document version guesswork, and creates a more structured, productive project environment where team members can easily and actively engage in the process. Project or team communication, as well as documentation and other forms of content, are captured in context, and easy to track and retrieve. In this scenario, sharing project information with new team members is as simple as adding a user to the team workspace.

To broaden the example, enabling social functionality for an organization’s content management system generally encourages internal collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Social features, such as the ability to exchange messages, comments, and quick status updates, in a content-centric environment make it easy to channel the flow of information that is often central to business process efficiency.

In a globally dispersed work environment, the advantages of a platform to manage structured and unstructured content are magnified.

An important contract, and the discussions and revisions that accompany it, may be needed for a morning meeting on the East Coast. It should not be locked up in the email stream of an employee who is still sleeping on the West Coast; it should be part of the company’s global information store and easily accessible. To take this a step further, when employees leave an organization, the knowledge that they have accumulated, in the form of documents and email exchanges and other content-driven processes, is much more valuable to the organization if it’s been maintained in a structured, accessible platform.

Documents, content and information exchanges can be core elements of the knowledge, intellectual property, and business processes of an organization. A socially connected enterprise enables employees to actively participate and stay better informed about their own business processes as well as their connections to the rest of the company and the chain of value creation. An environment where employees are engaged and information is easily accessible is a healthy foundation for efficient processes.