Social networks, not always a Field of Dreams

Many organizations are implementing policies to manage employee interaction with social media in the work place.  However, leading organizations are implementing their own social platforms.  These platforms feature the same communication tools that the big social websites offer, connecting person to person.   But these organizations are using them to increase the type and quality of communications among employees via internal Blogs, Wikis and through sharing documents and information.   But the real secret to their success lies in their execution. The predecessor to the enterprise social network was the intranet.  The difference between today’s technology and yesterday’s intranet was in the complexity for the user.  The corporate intranet was far more complex to use and required a much steeper learning curve.  Because of this complexity many had difficulty properly executing and maintaining its use.  Employees were often forced to use it.  Many, due to its shortcomings came to rely on email to serve as there document share, their data collection and communication tool.

So how does an organization ensure proper execution of their new social platform?  First you have to realize that today’s social platform is not like yesterdays complicated intranet.  Your employees already engage on social networks.  They are all, whether there a public or an enterprise social network, user friendly.  There is no better example of their ease of use than the growth in the number of grandparents who are connecting online with their kids and grandkids.

Believing that execution is easy would be shortsighted.  It’s not without it’s own challenges.  As an organization implements theirs they need to make certain that it’s done correctly.  It does take a change in the thinking of the employee and many are reluctant to change their emailing ways.  That old adage of “If you build it they will come” does not hold true without good relevant content.  Content is what drives social media.   Don't make the mistake of launching a bare social network.  A core group of supportive users will develop the initial content enabling a larger roll out.  Driving and developing this early content is where proper execution lies and it can easily fail.  A controlled roll-out within an organization so that the platform develops naturally, with guidance, is the best plan for success.

Through proper execution the platform will take off within your organization.   It will deliver an increase in the quality of communications and idea sharing that cannot be measured in dollars.  As Jef Vandecruys, Global Project Leader Digital Connection said:

“It is important to measure the actual implementation of social media in projects.  It’s not just the theory that matters; the true value is in the execution.  The very first KPI of 'social' is not about monetary value, it’s measuring the evolutions in the internal knowledge.”