NEW YORK: Major brand owners are increasingly attempting to employ social networking tools internally to enhance collaboration and spread best practices.

Yammer, one of the first companies to offer bespoke in-house social systems, now claims a client roster including 7-Eleven, the retailer, Deloitte, the consultancy and eBay, the ecommerce site.

"We call Yammer an enterprise social network that exists to further business objectives. You've got Facebook for socialising," David Sacks, Yammer's chief executive, told the Financial Times.

Nationwide, the insurance provider, is another Yammer customer, and while it has issued formal guidelines regarding appropriate subject matter, in practice users tend to be self-regulating.

Approximately half of Nationwide's staff have now signed up to this service and a third actively make contributions, easily beating its previous efforts to achieve the same goal.

"It felt like Facebook, so people didn't have to be trained. It felt like their world outside the company, which helped it really take off," said Chris Plescia, Nationwide's vice president, marketing, collaboration and communication. provides an alternative product, Chatter, deployed by firms like Dell, the IT giant, NBC Universal, the broadcaster and Caesars, the entertainment and leisure group.

"People saw what was happening with Facebook, but didn't immediately understand the implications for companies," Kendall Collins,'s CMO, said. "Today, companies no longer need a lot of convincing."

Saatchi & Saatchi, the advertising agency, has utilised Chatter for 80 staff working on the Toyota Dealers' Association in North America account, who are split between offices and handle a diverse range of tasks.

"It took a while for people to learn how and why to use it," said Jonathan Zimmerman, a director of digital technology and innovation at Saatchi & Saatchi. "Now it's used primarily as a way to communicate around projects and jobs."

General Electric, the conglomerate, has built an in-house platform, MarkNet, fulfilling such functions for its marketing staff, and Kraft, the food manufacturer, boasts a similar system to facilitate closer collaboration across its global operations.

"As enterprises become increasingly social, that's an area we want to be able to add value," Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's CEO, said last week. "I fully expect us to be creating more relevant products and services that our membership can use where they work."

Data sourced from Financial Times/Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff