Last year, a number of companies invested in social business software as a means to enhance collaboration, communication, and innovation among employees. But several of these companies are still in the planning or proof of concept stages of launching their social intranets. While these organizations have taken the right initial steps create a social business, few have the resources and expertise they need to launch an internal community successfully. Many are now asking themselves, “now what?” and more importantly, “how do we get people to use this?”

Launching an enterprise social network is no easy task. It takes a considerable amount of strategic planning and technical experience to ensure a successful deployment and gain full adoption. This three-part blog series will focus on key drivers of social intranet adoption to help you plan your social business strategy: user experience, training, and marketing. While this is by no means a comprehensive checklist, these are the key components we (at JCS Consulting) see as the most frequently missed opportunities to drive adoption of enterprise social networks.

Part 1: User Experience – Less is More

When it comes to the design of an enterprise social network, we all want to keep it simple, but it’s much easier said than done. With all of the bells and whistles we get with some of today’s most advanced social collaboration technology (like Jive), we’re left with too many options. So how do we set this up the “right” way?

If you find yourself going down a complicated path, remember — this is first and foremost a communication and collaboration platform. Focus less on where to store content, and more on the actions and behaviors you want to encourage. It will make your social intranet much more useful, therefore increasing your likelihood for adoption.

Before you build out anything, take the time to interview team members across multiple departments in varying roles within your company. You want to talk to the people “in the trenches” getting the work done, not just the people calling the shots, because these are the folks who will likely become your “power users” and, more importantly, your advocates that will help drive adoption within their individual teams. What is it that people need to do get their job done? Where can you help? Build your community around those use cases, and the design starts to make more sense.

What initial use cases have you determined for your social intranet? Which teams or departments are you struggling with?

Stay tuned for next’s week’s installment of this three-part series, where I’ll discuss training programs for your enterprise social network.

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