In the past few years, business opinions about social networks have shifted in a positive way. Just a few years back, leaders were horrified of proprietary information and secrets being leaked on personal social media platforms, leading to the perceived notion that social networking is a waste of time. Today, it is rare to find a company without a social presence, and more businesses are exploring and adopting the benefits of social networking for business collaboration.
Many enterprise social projects fail to obtain the adoption rates hoped for. What we have found to be the most difficult part of a move to social working is simply getting started, in conjunction with the cultural change that comes with “the new working paradigm.” Successful adoption of enterprise social takes planning and an understanding of common adoption pitfalls. For example, expectations that successful network adoption will come from the ground up, spreading virally, have mostly been proven false. Approaching an enterprise social roll-out with a well defined and clear adoption strategy will significantly increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
A Few Common Pitfalls
When working with clients, one of the most common reasons for failed adoption is that absence of a value statement or purpose for the network. Charlene Li of analyst firm Altimeter Group reports in Making The Case For Enterprise Social Networks that “the reality of everyday work” is the employee’s priority, drawing them toward their “day jobs” and away from social collaboration. In other words, without a clear vision, or purpose, the network slips into a chat room or a place to post memes.
By rolling out the network with a clear vision and understanding of the true value, employees can utilize the platform to its fullest potential. Here, they can get the job done more efficiently, quickly gain access to valuable information from peers, and have access to clearly defined spaces for “fun” adoption sores.This also highlights another common pitfall. For a social network to add true business value, employees and leaders need to accept that behavioral changes need to be made to uncover the true business value of enterprise social. It will be key for employees and leaders to transition from the thought that knowledge-is-power, a need-to-know mentality to a need-to-share attitude, and embrace the benefit of shared knowledge. This shift in attitude is categorized as a move from a “pull-based” information flow to a “push-based” flow.
A Few Successful Adoption Tips:
Lead by Example
Senior management should mandate social networking principles to real business processes. Without a mandate to use the social platform as part of employees “real job”, members will consider participation to be optional. A clear directive from the top removes ambiguity as to whether it is considered “real work”.
Develop a group structure and objectives in-order to ensure proper use of the community. Community managers should create their groups and identify a “content taskforce” to help manage the group(s).
Adding employees to an empty network with hopes that they will populate the groups with proper content will lead to failure. In order to help develop the correct habits among employees, it is important to establish a clear set of best practices.
Do not expect everyone to embrace social collaboration without incentives. Incentives may take many forms- prizes, awards, a mention in the monthly newsletter, etc. We have seen that simply telling employees what to do is seldom effective in changing habits and convincing people to want to work in a new way. Therefore, while competitions and rewards seem silly, these simple games increase adoption.
DO NOT wait to measure network usage. Measuring network usage should begin from day one and continue past the roll-out. Adoption is a continuous process with enterprise social. Aim for continual improvement in levels of participation. Always look for new workflows where enterprise social can be integrated to increase adoption.