Social Media is the Glue of Innovation

Social Media is the Glue of Innovation‘What is the role of social media in innovation? (Either inside or outside the organization)’

Social media serves an incredibly important role in innovation. Social media functions as the glue to stick together incomplete knowledge, incomplete ideas, incomplete teams, and incomplete skillsets. Social media is not some mysterious magic box. Ultimately it is a tool that serves to connect people and information.

I’m reminded of a set of lyrics from U2’s “The Fly”:

“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief”

Social media can help ideas grow and thrive that would otherwise wither and die under the boot of the perfectionist in all of us.

Do you remember the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a village to create an innovation from an idea as well, and social media helps to aggregate and mobilize the people and knowledge necessary to do just that.

But, that is social media working in the positive. We must remember that social media tools are just that – tools.

Just as easily as social media tools can be an accelerant for innovation, they can also be an inhibitor – if the participants or the presenters manage to make the less active majority feel that innovation is not something for them.

If you don’t want to be a fool with a tool, then you must be careful to make sure that the social media tools in your organization are fulfilling their role in a positive way and leveraging existing knowledge management and collaboration toolsets:

  1. To make innovative ideas visible and accessible
  2. To allow people to have conversations
  3. To build community
  4. To facilitate information exchange
  5. To enable knowledge sharing
  6. To assist with expert location
  7. To power collaboration on idea evolution
  8. To help people educate themselves
  9. To connect people to others who share their passion
  10. To surface the insights and strategy that people should be building ideas from

The better you become at the above, the stronger your organization’s innovation capability will become, the more engaged your employees will become, and the more ready you will become to engage successfully in open innovation.

For the most part, what I’ve been talking about is the role of social media in innovation inside the organization. When you leverage social media for innovation outside the organization, it gets a whole lot more complicated.

But, maybe that’s a conversation for another day.

In the meantime, please consider the ways in which social media in your organization might be able to strengthen inter-disciplinary cooperation, make the organization itself more adaptable, and how it could help to create an organization with the power to transform more ideas into innovations.

Consider also embedding some of our rss feeds into your corporate portal or intranet, encouraging employees to sign up for our weekly newsletter, or working with us to create a custom innovation content stream for your employees.

…oh, and check out one of the most popular posts in the history of Innovation Excellence – Rise of the Social Business Architect

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, builds sustainable innovation cultures, and tools for creating successful change. He is the author of the five-star book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and the creator of a revolutionary new Change Planning Toolkitâ„¢. Follow him on Twitter (@innovate) and Linkedin.

Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Design Thinking, Innovation and Transformation Consultant, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, and helps companies use Human-Centered Changeâ„¢ to beat the 70% change failure rate. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.




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No Comments

  1. Dana Larson on April 28, 2010 at 9:37 am

    This is a great article. I never thought of it in the "it takes a village…" way before, but it's absolutely true. 3 heads is better than 2, is better than 1, and the more people we can involve in the idea generation and innovation process, the better.

  2. Vinay Kumar on April 29, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Great post. I wrote a similar piece back in January entitled "Social Media: Source of Manure or Pearls?". Thought you may enjoy reading it.

  3. Vinay Kumar on April 29, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Ooops, forgot to give the link the post I just mentioned. You can read it at:

  4. Vincent Carbone on April 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Great post Branden..

    I also believe if a company is looking to introduce more Social tools into the enterprise, starting with a focus on Innovation is a great way to drive adoption.

    The problem with more generic Social Software like Jive is that they don't serve a specific business needed.

    Innovation focused Social Software like the one from, address a real business pain, and is a great way to introduce the company to social tools.

    Vincent Carbone

  5. Don Smith on April 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm


    this post really resonates with me and my team. I appreciate you thought leadership


  6. jz on April 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    This post really hits home, especially when it comes to the type of work we do at the company I’m work for, Bulbstorm ( We focus on bringing innovation to life and use social media to do so, by asking fans to share their innovative ideas or posting our own innovations. The phrase you used, “It takes a village…” is so true to social media and innovation. Through the Bulbstorm applications (such as Idea Challenges: fans use the tools of social media to share ideas, comment on other’s ideas and encourage friends to participate as well, thus proving your point that “social media tools can be an accelerant for innovation” Great post Braden!

  7. George Levy on May 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Excellent post Braden! Had never thought of Social Media as “glue” but after reading your article, it all clicks into place.

    Following the logic of your article, I would think that as more people within companies become familiar and get used to actively interacting through social media, the potential for even wider innovation will become even more widespread. What do you think? Perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg for the next wave of massive innovation?

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