Social intranets, as part of a broader social enterprise strategy, are increasingly more commonplace and there are no shortage of technology suppliers ready to add the functionality to your portal. But as we’ve noted at intranetizen before, installing the technology is by far the easiest part of creating a social intranet — the hardest part is embedding that technology in the weave of workplace workflow and changing the culture of an organisation. We’ve proposed tactics to develop trust before, but here are some further steps you can take to make social work on your intranet and in your company.
1. Define the rules, don’t define the purpose
Any social intranet needs to have some rules to help it function correctly but importantly, these should be a style framework more than a definition of purpose. It’s important to provide employees with guidance:
- Topics — Is it only work topics or does anything go?
- Language — What can be said, what can’t be said?
- -isms — Your guidance should include statements about racism, sexism, agism and more.
- Harassment — sad to say, you probably need to make it clear that this is not acceptable
Avoid making statements about the specific purpose of a social intranet as it can often close down the creativity and spontaneity.
2. Legitimise Social: Ask your leaders to lead
Social intranets are work, not work avoidance. Take steps to educate line managers of this at every opportunity and have them, and senior leadership demonstrate this by being active in your social intranet from the first day. Nothing says that social intranets are a legitimate and exciting way to work than your CEO being present and active in this space.
This is vital to the long term health of your social intranet. If people don’t see it as a legitimate channel, they’ll quickly stop using it and revert to less appropriate tools such as email.
3. Find and Nuture Evangelists
People make social. Find people in your organisation who instinctively get social and use them to help integrate it in to the workflow weave. It is particularly useful if you can find people in key parts of your business such as finance as they will quickly bring other people, in other functions, into the social way of working. Use evangelists to seed ideas and develop social communities.
4. Integrate social into existing workflows
Line manager technology leadership is central to adoption and success: if they don’t use an enterprise social network themselves, then there really is little point in you doing so to collaborate with them.
Social needs to be become part of business workflows. Work with leadership and line managers directly and provide business consultancy. Understand from them what their business problems are and demonstrate how social technologies can help.
5. Smart small and build
Take baby steps: Crawl, then walk then run. It will take a long time to create the right environment for a social enterprise to flourish so it’s important to set modest milestones for your intranet.
- Registered users — if they’re not registered, they can’t participate so you’ve got to start here
- Numbers of posts — how much ‘noise’ is there in the social space?
- Number of posts per user — is it a small number of users posting, or is everyone participating?
- Groups — if your social space allows for private/public groups, are teams adopting these?
- Time in social — minutes per user per month
- Anecdotal — ask for success stories within the social space
6. Publicise Successes
Once you’ve been made aware of the successes borne of your social intranet, make sure you publish these using your traditional IC routes. There’s not much point in re-publishing these within your social intranet as you’re preaching to the converted, somewhat! Make sure your whole business is aware of the value of social intranets through these stories.
7. Create, then Curate
This is critically important. Creating the social intranet is the easiest step, curating it is the hardest and most important. You’ll need people on the ground dedicated not only to delivering the steps presented above, but also in seeding ideas and creativity within your enterprise social network. Community manager roles will become increasingly commonplace and important for the vitality of your social intranet.
Installing the functionality is easy. Be it a native tool, or one of a few excellent enterprise social network tools such as Yammer or Newsgator, getting the technology up and running is the start but to make it a success, you’ll have to work hard to curate. We hope these strategies will help you.
What have we missed? What successes have you had?