Who killed the enterprise social network?

Who killed the social network? Grave of an internal social network

You might have come across slightly discouraging figures about the low success rates of enterprise social networks.

People always to rush to roll out social collaboration tools like Yammer or Jive without realising that there are many enemies of social collaboration just waiting to strangle the fledgling network in its cradle. Here are some of the key reasons why your enterprise social network fails:

  • There’s no specific reason for people to use it
    “Improving internal communication” is not a specific reason.
  • The social network is treated as yet another communication channel
    when in fact it’s a collaboration platform for getting stuff done. Comms people often focus too much on the communication channel bit, but forget to link it to actual work processes.
  • Email steals the network’s thunder
    Typical problem is that email gets used for the same type of communication as the social network – and email is more established channel it can easily kill the fledgling network in the cradle.
  • The social network is treated as an IT project
    when more effort should be put in supporting behaviour change.
  • People who roll out a social network have no clue about community management
    Old broadcast communication skills are not enough.
  • No-one thought about linking the network to actual business goals
    Why would senior management support the social collaboration tool if they don’t see how it can help the business?
  • The culture of the organisation doesn’t reward collaboration
    For example: if there’s internal competition why would anyone share information voluntarily? This is a tough one to change!

If any of those sound familiar (“oh my God – that’s us!”) – don’t panic. There is a way to revive your dying network (or avoid these nasty issues if you’re just starting out).

I’m a big believer in starting with a communication problem that people suffer from on a daily, or at least weekly, basis. So even though your aim would be to help communication flow better in the organisation, you should start with something a bit more tangible. Solving a problem is the easiest way.

And when you’ve solved a problem linked to people’s daily work you are in a much better position to roll out the network to the wider organisation. With a successful case story you can confidently march into a senior manager’s office and ask for their support for a wider rollout.

I’ve turned the problem focused process into a hands-on course (with support) as part of the Social Collaboration Toolkit. Me and my favourite Aussie consultant Craig would love to help you out.

– Virpi

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