Read this interesting article in Fortune recently about a small company that introduced Facebook within the firewalls to help spark innovation and culture change. What struck me was that the most important impact was not the superficial results – a few new products created via collaboration – but the huge symbolic value (what the article calls the “subsersive message”) of introducing such a new tool in the company’s ecosystem. The message: be prepared to learn and change to survive.

I have found a parallel situation in several companies – including my own – where the introduction of social media tools and channels is the trojan horse for changes well beyond the mechanics of communication. These tools typically force companies to stretch well beyond their previous habits and to embrace new ideas, not just new technology.

As I’ve said before, social media is not for every company. But every company can benefit from the process of liberation and intellectual overhaul that is often sparked by the new technology.