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Often when a company is rolling out a social business or enterprise collaboration project, the technology will be the “shiny new toy” part of the project – it is visible, easy to play with, and gets most of the attention. The home page of the new site gets designed and redesigned, and the team spends hours in meetings where mockups are paraded in front of conference rooms full of project sponsors.

This is roughly equivalent to a football team worrying more about what their uniforms look like than the players inside – “We look good – even if we can’t play together worth a darn!”

Collaborative work environments have huge advantages for business – decreased costs, increased customer satisfaction, higher revenues, and lowered employee turnover to name just a few. But in order to get these benefits, employees must start working differently. While most employees will eventually invent a way to take advantage of the new tools, many businesses delay the achievement of their social business goals by waiting for employees to “figure it out." Not only that, the inertia of historic company work habits keeps employees working the same old way.

Your employees are already experts at their current jobs – their current success is based on their current work habits, and they are unlikely to quickly change on their own since change comes with risk.

In order to get to the benefits of social business faster, smart business leaders not only train their teams on the new capabilities of the new tools, but they set expectations that it is time to change. This takes the risk out of change. Does your enterprise collaboration project include the following?

  • Do we know specifically in what ways we want our workforce to change?
  • Have we identified metrics that let us know we are making progress towards those goals?
  • Are we training our teams on the changes we want?
  • Is management aligned with these goals and leading the change?
  • Are company recognition, reward and compensation systems aligned with the new way of doing business?
  • Do we have a communication plan that supports all these objectives? (Hint: an email announcing “the system is up – go do good stuff” is not a communication plan).

Human beings are often reluctant to take risks and make changes by themselves. By identifying and communicating the desired outcomes, linking them to new ways of working, and leading and rewarding the changes, you can overcome the natural reluctance to take a risk, dramatically shorten the time to benefit, and increase the amount of benefit gained by the company.

In the end, the workforce wants to help the company succeed – successful social business projects take advantage of this and remove as much change risk as possible. This transforms your employees from boat anchors holding the company back into change agents driving the company towards success.

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Lately I’ve noticed that the terms “social business” and “social media” are often confused – or at least we haven’t come to a firm agreement as an industry what the key differences and similarities are between the two. While this can be frustrating for someone like me who has been immersed in social business for the past several years, I can see how they may be confused. They both involve computers, social, and networking, so they must be the same, right?

Working in social business comes with many opportunities to indoctrinate colleagues and friends with how this is going to fundamentally change the way we work. But even as more and more companies adopt social business technology, I can tell that many folks still equate anything “social” and online with Facebook and Twitter – consumer-oriented social networking sites we all know and love. While these sites play a role in social business, they aren’t the whole story.

Social networking to this point has been mostly a consumer activity – people using online tools to connect with people around all sorts of topics and interests. Businesses have jumped onto these platforms to market and advertise because this is where their customers are gathering. Marketing and advertising go where the people are, and over the last 100 or so years, these dollars have moved from print, to radio, to TV, to email, and now to online social networking sites.

So how is social business different than your company having a Twitter and Facebook account? Social networking as described above is a part of social business. But social business is not just about networking with your customers. It is about how we will work together using online tools that are very much like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ but are designed to meet the special needs of businesses.

The online tools for social business need to be specialized for the enterprise. That is where software companies like Jive and Salesforce.com’s Chatter have made huge contributions. They provide secure social networking environments where employees connect, collaborate, and create, whether they are in the same office or thousands of miles apart. And social business tools are unique in the way that they meet special business-related requirements like security, collaboration, and document management.

There is a lot more to be written about social business. We are at the beginning of this movement. We are just starting to create best practices on implementing these tools in organizations and adapting business processes to best utilize them. At the same time, the software is continuing to advance and adapt to better meet the unique needs of businesses.

Remember the days when we called having an online store and email “eBusiness?” Now it is business as usual. And someday soon, social business will be business as usual. Once I can get everyone  to understand what it is…

 

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Single sign-on (SSO) is a great way to seamlessly allow access to your Jive Community without the need for separate logins and passwords for your employee user base. At first glance, implementing SSO for your Jive community can be overwhelming. However, with the latest and greatest versions of Jive, SSO has become easier than ever to configure and deploy. In my experience with configuring, troubleshooting, and deploying several SSO/Jive setups, I have discovered a few “gotcha’s” that you should steer away from (the SSO don’ts) as well as information that should be prepared and planned (the SSO do’s).

 

SSO DO’S:

  • Do IT right

    When you’re planning to integrate SSO with your Jive instance (5+), it’s important to have a vendor/protocol that your tech team and organization is comfortable with.
  • Do your homework

    Take the time to understand your SSO provider and various configurations that you have available.
  • Do what works

    Make sure you pick a configuration that has worked well in the past (such as an http-redirect or http-post service bindings).
  • Do security a favor

    Check with your security team and ensure everything is kosher across the board – and that enabling SSO is not violating any policies.
  • Do pick a unique identifier

    Pick a username and ID that is unique. I personally like email address, as it should be unique in your environment. If you’re using SAML and Active Directory, chooseName ID to be your GUID (Global Unique Identifier) and ensure it’s your global catalog GUID.
  • Do your mapping

    Know your user field mapping! Even though Jive makes it easier to configure the profile fields to your single sign-on token information, it is always wise to know which fields are going to map to what. Plus, you will speed up the configuration.
    Example: Active Directory Field “sn” -maps to- Jive Profile Field “lastname”
  • Do the SSL dance

    If you have certs that need to be set up, get familiar with the location of the certs and get the proper-signed metadata for endpoint setups.

 

SSO DON’TS:

  • Don’t rush

    Take the time to set up your single sign-on solution properly the first time around. You will regret making decisions that might complicate your solution in the future.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel

    Try to stick to existing SSO standards. The more you stray away from the out-of-box configurations, the more complex your setup will be become. Keep things simple and standard.
  • Don’t panic

    Aside from being written on the back of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s important to keep these words in mind when problems surface with your SSO and leverage the debug mode in the SSO configuration.
  • Don’t forget about your resources

    If you are having serious issues with your SSO configuration, there are a number of things you can do to help solve them. Every Jive customer gets their own secret support group where you can create cases to ask for help or troubleshoot – you can get there by navigating tohttps://community.jivesoftware.com/support.jspa. You can also post a question in the general support space:https://community.jivesoftware.com/community/support. Or you can ask me, and perhaps I can point you in the right direction.

 

USEFUL LINKS

Last but not least, here is a list of documentation and information from the Jive Community that I have found extremely useful when configuring SSO:

 

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As every successful sales person can attest, you are part psychologist, part detective, part organizational development expert, part therapist, part life-of-the-party and part comedian. Prospecting for new business is time-consuming and complex, but comprehensive use of social tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can shorten the sales cycle, increase deal potential and help you build a strong reference network.   A successful sales person envisions the ultimate objective for a prospective account up front and then develops an approach strategy.  Intelligent exploitation of social tools allows you to systematically begin the process of making introductions, developing relationships with various key decision makers and influencers, and leveraging existing relationships.

So given how useful and efficient the use of those social media tools are for a sales person, imagine what those tools could do for you inside your own company?  What if rather than spending 20+ hours a week figuring out who has valuable knowledge, who can help you prosecute your deals, how you can earn the help of your colleagues, and where to find various documents and tools that can help you win new business – you could utilize the same dynamic that social networking offers?

What if the benefits of socialization of business prospecting tools could apply internally at your company?

Organizations that deploy enterprise collaboration software (or social business software), such as Jive, are able to do just this.  Social business software applies socialization elements we use in our personal lives and outside of work to the workplace – bringing along a level of sophistication and efficiency that we don’t have in many of the legacy tools available to us now. Rather than searching aimlessly within a shared network drive for the latest, most updated PowerPoint decks, you can access them anytime via tools like Jive Present. Rather than figuring out who the expert is in a particular area of your product through emails that don’t get any response, you can find that person easily through advanced search functionality, peruse how they’ve helped your colleagues, and leverage valuable information that has already been shared right away.

Additionally, sales management can easily see the latest and greatest updates for each deal being prosecuted via deal rooms, where your organization’s current CRM and other critical tools come together in one place, allowing for complete transparency and the elimination of inefficiency and multiple phone calls to determine status.  Even better, social business tools like Jive have been proven to increase sales by 13% per rep, simply by eliminating inefficiency and corralling the expertise and resources critical for prosecuting deals.

Social business software frees up more of a sales person’s time so they can do what they do best – develop relationships with prospects and clients and construct creative deals – with less time in front of a computer conducting non-revenue generating activities.

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I often get asked what I do for a living, and I usually tell people that I wear multiple hats depending on what role is needed at any point in time.  I have worked both as an internal community manager for a Fortune 500 company and for my own personal company as an external community manager to promote external services and products. Community management, whether internal or external – can be elusive to colleagues, friends, and other spectators who don’t fully comprehend what this role demands. By definition, community managers are responsible for building, monitoring, and growing their company’s social networks. Those social networks can be social intranets for employees, public social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, or branded customer-facing communities built by and for the company. Community managers are on the front lines of communication for these social networks – monitoring activity, responding to member inquiries, engaging in conversations, seeding content, and driving the company’s social business objectives. There are two key types of community managers:

  1. Internal Community Managers are responsible for internal social networks (also known as social intranets).  These networks live within the four walls of an organization.  Internal community managers focus on collaboration, efficiency, and connecting to the right people – they help the community thrive by making connections between people and information that lead to greater productivity, transparency, and innovation. They help break down silos by encouraging people to work out loud and constantly finding ways to improve internal processes. They drive adoption of social collaboration platforms through effective training and communication. The day-to-day work of an internal community manager involves group creation and interaction within the community, moderation, governance, developing metrics and KPI’s, and managing daily operational tasks that keep the internal community running smoothly.
  2. External Community Managers are primarily responsible for their company’s external social media presence and accounts (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), but they may also manage a brand’s proprietary customer community. Additionally, they monitor the social web for conversations happening online that involve their brand, and join those conversations or get the right company spokeswoman involved when appropriate. Their main focus is building rich, authentic relationships online that drive customer retention and acquisition goals – this can involve promoting special offers and new products, engaging the community in conversations, sharing valuable content, posting real-time updates during special events, and responding to customer service inquiries. When customers reach out to the company via social networks, external community managers quickly engage subject matter experts to provide appropriate, accurate, and timely responses. They also work as messengers, bringing back sentiments (good or bad) to the corporate environment that provide feedback to internal teams (i.e. customer care, innovation/design teams, sales, marketing, etc.) that the company can leverage to make improvements.

Community managers are critical to the success of any social business initiative because they are ultimately responsible for the adoption and growth of internal and external communities. Their jobs are complex and require a unique skill set that is harder to come by than many people might think.

For internal communities, community managers are the “insiders” who are constantly aware of groups that are collaborating, content that is trending, and conversations that can be acted upon or connected with other cross-functional groups. They connect the dots for members who want to collaborate with other members who share similar topics of interest, and they can tremendously help in on-boarding new members and encouraging them to think and work differently (i.e. using discussions vs. email) in a collaborative environment.

For external communities, community managers are the “eyes and ears” of a company’s social presence who can detect the nuances (i.e. good or bad consumer sentiments) in real time. They are the voice of the brand who can communicate a brand’s message while relating to their social followers. External community managers must be agile and responsive to react quickly to consumer sentiments that can make or break a product launch, sell, or marketing campaign.

Successful internal and external community managers are masters of communication. They listen (both to the explicit and implicit messages from their communities); they summarize and reflect back those messages to help their communities grow, and they rapidly and accurately bring others into the conversation to enrich, enliven, inform and move the conversation and community forward.

Just as being social business involves more than having a Facebook or Twitter account, community management requires much more than hanging out on social media all day. The real value of community managers will increase over time as companies recognize the pivotal role these individuals will play both inside a company and within the external communities vital to the continued growth and health of the organization.

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I have to credit our client Thyda Nhekfrom DIRECTV for introducing me to this phrase (who may have heard it fromJohn Stepper), but ever since she mentioned it, it has stuck with me. I find that it concisely, yet accurately, explains what Jive and other social collaboration platforms really do. They allow companies of all sizes to "work out loud." Not only does this phrase introduce people to the concept of social collaboration in a simple way, it differentiates social collaboration tools from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which according to this recent article, many people mistake for social collaboration. You might be asking yourself, “What’s so great about working out loud?" After gradually changing my own communication habits in the workplace over the last few years, these are the key reasons I think it's so important: 

IT BREAKS DOWN SILOS

Have you ever felt like your department is kind of like a deserted island - left to fend for yourselves with limited resources and no effective way to connect with the outside world? Being in marketing, there have been plenty of times I've felt like that. I send emails - comparable to smoke signals - and I get no response. Why? Because people send too much darn email! Both inside departments and cross-functionally across teams, communicating effectively, especially via email, is a huge problem. Someone is either left out of the conversation that needs to be involved (which leads to unwanted surprises), or too many people are involved, causing a reply-all nightmare. Meanwhile, there's another group in another office in the same company having the exact same conversation, and you don't even realize it. The video below explains this scenario quite well: 

Communication silos are bad for business - working out loud on a social collaboration platform available to everyone saves everyone time and reduces human error. 

IT STRENGTHENS COMPANY CULTURE

Are employees within your organization aligned with your corporate culture? How can you know? While company-wide meetings and events can help build and reinforce company culture, they don't happen often enough, and it's hard to gauge their effectiveness. Furthermore, more and more companies, such as my own, are adopting more flexible work-from-home policies, which mean it's becoming increasingly difficult to bring the gang together in person. But it is possible to build culture online. Social collaboration platforms are not just about revenue-driving activities - they're also about employee engagement. They allow companies large and small to build communities where employees can feel like they're a part of something, and leaders can understand employee sentiment, no matter where they are. 

IT INCREASES ACCOUNTABILITY

Working out loud means that a much wider audience knows what you're up to on a daily basis – whether you're drafting documents, participating in discussions, answering questions, or posting blogs. That can be unnerving for a lot of people, but in my experience, it's been a good thing knowing that everyone can see what I do. For one, it's encouraged me to get things right the first time around. Secondly, it allows feedback from a broader audience - good and bad, leading to a better end result. And finally, when I can see other people doing awesome work across the entire company, it motivates me to perform at the highest level I can. Employee communities increase accountability because they raise the bar for timeliness, quality, and productivity. Even better, they accomplish this on their own, without the need for micromanagement or leadership mandates. 

IT UNLOCKS TRIBAL KNOWLEDGE

If you've ever worked in software, you know how challenging it can be to become an expert of a new platform in a very short amount of time. Whether you're in account management, customer service, sales, marketing, or product management – some of the most valuable things to know about the product you work with aren't available in a slide deck, knowledge article, or training video sanctioned by the company. Sometimes it's the "little things" about the platform that help you understand it on a deeper level and better serve your customers. The problem is, most of that information is either trapped in people's brains or lost within instant messages and email threads. We need better ways to make that valuable knowledge available to everyone in a collaborative environment. For some people – the terms "open" and "transparent" equate to security risks. But in this case, the benefits far outweigh the risks. When discussions about your product are happening in an open environment visible to all of your employees – it helps everyone understand it better, no matter how long you've been with the company. Furthermore, you allow your best subject matter experts to weigh in on the conversation, rather than limiting it to a finite group within an email thread that may or may not know exactly what they’re talking about. 

IT EMPOWERS EMPLOYEES

I hear and read a lot about innovation and ideation in the context of social collaboration - enterprise solutions are driving these important business activities through purpose-built tools, and companies that embrace them are seeing great results. While innovation is critical to secure a competitive position in any market, when you look at the big picture, these types of tools within social collaboration are really empowering employees to drive the growth and success of the company. When anyone and everyone, no matter what position they hold, can propose fresh ideas that gain accolades from their peers and leaders – and are acted upon, they feel they contribute and add value in a meaningful way, which can make a big difference in retaining top talent.   So what is the ROI of these outcomes? I couldn't tell you. But it sure makes life at work a lot less painful. 

 

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Gamification has recently become a popular topic within enterprise collaboration platforms – so much so that I think my spell check now accepts the word as valid. As with many other social technologies, gamification first gained adoption in the consumer world with apps like Foursquare, so it isn’t a novel concept, but applying it in a business setting is still fairly new to most people. The key difference is that there’s more to gamification in a business setting than badges and points – it can actually be used to solve critical business problems, such as employee engagement.

 

As Rajat Paharia points out in his new book Loyalty 3.0, 70 percent of people who go to work every day aren’t engaged in their jobs, costing the U.S. economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity. Done right, gamification offers a unique and effective way to mitigate this problem by giving employees a way to gain recognition for their contributions as they work.

 

Recognition is the root of gamification. People want to be recognized for their contributions; in fact, they feel they deserve to be recognized. As an informal poll, I asked some of my friends, all under age 40, what would make them happier about their workplace. Although “more money” was the response that would make them happier personally, “more recognition” was the response that made them happier at work.

 

In today’s world of instant gratification, using gamification as a public recognition tool within an employee collaboration community can be much more effective than quarterly awards. And while every gamification initiative starts with a simple badge and point system to drive initial adoption and engagement in the early stages of your community, your deeper strategy should be geared towards changing and shaping employee behavior to drive long-term business results.

 

With new technology comes new work processes that need to be learned, and gamification can help drive those desired behaviors. One example is making content easy to search through proper tagging.  Most people forget to tag and don’t realize how important it is for document location, but you can design your gamification module to make tagging (or attaching metadata) a repeatable event so it rewards users for doing something of value to the community. They may start doing this for points, but eventually it will become a habit.

 

A more advanced example is generating involvement for a real world event in the community. By applying custom badges that can be earned leading up to the event and promoting the event with “limited time” badges, users that may not have been interested otherwise will participate in the event. I’ve seen this happen on one such occasion that produced the largest physical turnout at a volunteer event the company had ever seen.

 

So what is it about points and badges in a virtual community that make people change their behavior? There isn’t any real value to the points, and badges are meaningless outside of a particular community. Still, conversations about who can post a document first, “… because I need the points,” pop up all over the enterprise when a gamification tool is used. If points go missing or places are exchanged on a leaderboard, it becomes a point of contention for many. This irrational obsession with status and recognition is a powerful tool that a company can tap into to shape behavior in their community.

 

Using positive reinforcement, recognition, and status in the community are the underlying utilities that gamification employs. And one of the best things about gamification is that you can make adjustments and introduce new badges as you go to achieve desired outcomes and drive changes in behavior.

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Are you taking advantage of these tools to engage your employees, or are you losing your share?

Remember the promise of the intranet? It was supposed to be the place where you could go to connect with colleagues, find documents, collaborate on projects, and get work done.

 

And then reality sank in.

 

What we were actually given was a set of static brochure sites where we could successfully find something 3 out of 5 times when we needed to, and eventually we just ended up emailing the relevant person/department rep after a fruitless search. No real work was getting done; collaboration didn’t improve, and our email inboxes got out of control.

 

What happened to this so-called Promised Land?

 

Looking at the way my 12-year-old son interacts with his friends– his idea of collaboration is much different than I remember at that age. Back then, my idea of collaboration was to call my friend and ask what answer he got for #4 on his homework assignment. Now, my 12-year-old is collaborating on PowerPoint presentations online and dividing up work between 5 to 15 of his classmates. This process sounds a lot like what many companies have been trying to achieve with an intranet. And in case you didn’t do the math, let me do it for you. My kid is the one you want to hire in 10 years. Facilitating this type of workflow with collaborative technology is becoming table stakes for attracting the best talent. Who are you missing out on because you haven’t anted up?

 

I believe that the social intranet has begun the process of making good on its original promise. But before everyone starts to celebrate in the streets, there are a few things to discuss about bringing a social intranet into your company.  The hardest part of introducing a social intranet is the change management that revolves around introducing a new tool to your colleagues.

 

There are a variety of ways to do this, but a combination of both wide and deep use cases works best from the installs I have either implemented or witnessed.

 

A wide use case would involve HR, IT, or any other department that touches most of the enterprise. These use cases will try to capture a little ROI multiple times. A wide use case is also a good way to introduce your company to the new intranet. I guarantee that if you post the company holiday schedule on your new social intranet, people will come check out the new portal and hopefully stay for the other riveting content you have posted. This also involves moving from a broadcast type of corporate communication to a subscription type. Now, the information is available anytime the user wants it.

 

The other side of the coin is the deep use case. This involves engaging a business unit to move their process, hopefully one that might be duplicated within other business units, into the new platform. This new way of using a social intranet can model the benefits for some business units and bring hope for the future to others.

 

Deep use cases really bring the notion of moving work into the social intranet as a viable option instead of presenting it as “just another place I have to log into”. Integrations with other systems such as SharePoint as a powerful backend content management system or Box as an extension to external users continue to build on the notation that users really can get all of their information from one portal.

 

Some common stumbling blocks or hurdles we see when people roll out new social intranets are manual log-ins (no one wants to remember another password), lack of relevant content and ghost towns (fun to visit once but no reason to come back), and architecture that just duplicates the org chart. The way to defeat these obstacles are enabling single sign-on, ensuring relevant and new content is posted in groups, and architecting around use cases, not the org chart.

 

The modern portal or social intranet also allows for integrations with other systems in the enterprise ecosystem. If I don’t work in HR, why do I have to go into the HR web app every day? Just to clock in and out? That doesn’t make sense when I can probably do that in a smartphone app if I look hard enough.

 

Through smart integrations, the social intranet can become the focal point of where we can actually find all the things we need to do our job. The rule should be that unless a majority of an employee’s daily work needs to be done in a specific application, they shouldn’t have to log into that application every day. Sadly, this is the exception as opposed to the rule. With Jive’s ability to integrate APIs into new Tiles within Places, there isn’t an excuse not to find these efficiencies within your enterprise. Add the ability to use Jive Anywhere to bring relevant content from any web site or web app into your team’s group, and the promise of the social intranet gets a little closer to fulfillment.

 

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You have seen the “why” for using those awesome badges and gamification in your Jive instance. You have seen those convincing numbers and know it’s really about changing behavior. (Need to catch up? Check out Wes Goldstein’s blog). Great! You’re convinced… but how can it get you past those adoption hurdles.

 

1. That top floor is awfully silent. Silent and competitive…

 

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Tell your community about the C-level who is the first to earn the blog post badge. Trust us – they’re watching.

 

2. Your teacher said there are no bad questions – especially if you get a badge for it.

 

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When someone asks their first question, give them a badge, and award points for additional questions posted. Everyone wins here because a) you are encouraging your community to engage openly, and b) the next person who has that question has the answer already!

 

3. Everyone likes a smarty-pants. No really, they do!

 

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Give a badge for answering a question correctly. Not only will the user get that coveted “correct answer” mark, but now everyone will see it on his or her profile. Right next to that listed expertise in case anyone was wondering.

 

4. Know how everyone votes to get that “I voted” sticker? Works in Jive, too.

 

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If you are trying to turn those lurking registered users into participating users, maybe even contributing users at times, give a badge for voting in a poll. Polls are a quick and easy way for anyone to participate.

 

5. Tagging was not just your favorite playground game.

 

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Tagging makes that amazing Jive search engine even better, so reward people for doing it. And reward them for doing it again. They get that tagging badge; your search engine improves, and people will keep doing it, badge or no badge. See what we did there? Behavior change! That’s what this game is all about, ladies and gentlemen.

 

We’re just getting started here. Customize your missions to drive traffic to sleepy areas of your community. Get that competitive edge working to your advantage with limited quantity or limited time badges. Roll out badges with multiple reward levels, Olympic style. You can also reward accomplishments outside of the Jive realm. So get in the game!

 

Have any interesting badges and missions to share? How has gamification helped your community?

It’s More Than a Tool, It’s a Brand

 

It might seem like a waste of time and resources to invest in a marketing plan around an internal initiative, but I can tell you from what I've seen with our clients, it is critical to have a promotional plan in place once you’re ready to start introducing your staff to your social intranet. Imagine if you took the time to develop a sleek UI and in-depth training program, but no one showed up? Opportunity missed.

 

Treat your social intranet like a new product launch. Start by coming up with a name for your community. It should be something that ties your community vision and mission together with your company culture and/or your existing branding. For example, our social intranet at JCS is called “The Bridge” because of our company tagline – “Your bridge to social business.” Develop a logo and creative theme you can use within the community design itself and throughout your branded communication assets such as email updates, presentation slides, posters, etc.

 

Next, develop your pre- and post-launch communication schedule across various channels – email newsletters, webinars, videos, print, and even your existing company intranet if you have one. Your pre-launch messaging should build awareness of the new platform and drive people to register for training opportunities. Your post-launch messaging should highlight what’s happening in the community so far to generate more interest and continue to encourage people to register for training. Highlight your “wins” to help sustain and enhance the credibility of the change that is taking place.

 

And don’t forget about your advocates I mentioned earlier in the UI development stage. Think of them as brand ambassadors helping to spread the word. Ask them to mention your newly launched network during their team meetings and have them suggest ways they can use it to work better within their teams. Give them swag to hand out or signs to post in their cubicles – whatever creative and effective tactics you can think of. Reward your power users by featuring them on the front page of the site, show how their efforts have resulted in lower costs, higher revenue and improved customer service.  Remember, you can’t do this alone, so engage people who want to participate and empower them to help you reach your goal.

 

What tactics have you used to drive adoption of a social intranet? What worked? What didn’t?

 

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Not Just How, But Why

 

Regardless of the user-friendliness of your chosen social collaboration platform, you have to recognize that this is more than just a new tool to learn how to use - it's a new way to run a business and a massive paradigm shift in the way people work. Make sure you take the time to develop a comprehensive training program that covers both the technical how-to's and the reasons why your company is implementing an enterprise social network. Letting people 'in" on the strategy side helps build trust, which gets people on your side and facilitates the organizational change required to make your social business vision a reality.

 

As you develop your training program, start with an introduction to social business and provide examples of how admirable companies are successfully running enterprise social networks today. Specific evidence definitely helps – otherwise, it's all hype. Get case studies from your technology provider and leverage those statistics to prove business value. If your technology provider can’t provide statistics, borrow Jive’s McKinsey report, The Social Economy – full of ammunition for credibility wars. If you already have a few groups using your social intranet as a proof of concept, that’s even better.  Have a show-and-tell session to demonstrate real-life work scenarios at your company. People need to know that you’re there to make their work lives easier, not shove another tool down their throats.

 

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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. In this three-part series, we will focus on three key drivers of social intranet adoption to help you plan your social business strategy:  user experience, traning, and marketing. While this is by no means a comprehensive checklist, these are the key components we see as the most frequently missed opportunities to drive adoption of enterprise social networks.

 

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Part 1: User Experience – Less is More

Part 2: Training – Not Just “How,” but “Why”

Part 3: Marketing – It’s More Than a Tool, It’s a Brand

 

3 Key Drivers of Social Intranet Adoption, 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, 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 elicit. 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.

 

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You Aren’t In Your Parent’s Labor Economy

 

It used to be that most people were paid based on some exchange of time for money; pretty much I give you hours and you give me dollars. If you had a valuable skill or knowledge then you were paid more per hour then if your only skill was with a shovel.Since the best way to increase my personal value was to know how to do something that was rare there was an implicit reward for not sharing skills and expertise. If I’m the only one who can do what you need then I can charge you more per hour.

 

The internet has upended the “hours for dollars” link.

 

And don’t think that the trade has been converted into “knowledge for dollars”.

 

Because if you know something but you can’t convert it into value for somebody else then you have nothing to offer.

 

There is something that is even more valuable than knowing how to do something valuable. That is being the person who can spread that knowledge to many other people and get them to act on it.

 

In the new economy you get rewarded for three things

    1. What you know
    2. Using it to change your own behavior
    3. (Most importantly) How well you spread it to others and get them to change their behavior

At our company we shortened this to “Give Away Your Best Stuff”. What we mean is that the employees and companies who will succeed in the new economy are the ones internalize the value of sharing the most important ideas and techniques to the people who can use them. Companies who are good at this will be more successful than companies who are bad at it (or slow off the mark). Employees (that’s you) who are good at leading companies to this new way of working are particularly valuable. Three steps define this behavior:

    1. Identify something new, valuable and unique (your Best Stuff)
    2. Package it into a consumable, actionable piece of content
    3. Distribute it to the employees who can make the best use of it (Give it away)

 

You personally just became more valuable. And your value increase is disproportionate to the number of hours you work. You increase in value based on some multiple of the other employees you "made better". You leveraged the value of your entire company up. If you can repeatedly follow those steps you can monetize giving away your best stuff.

 

In the old economy I was rewarded for hoarding my unique valuable skills and knowledge. In the new economy I am rewarded for spreading that information as far and wide as possible.

 

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Wikipedia, The Huffington Post,  VlogBrothers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and on vlogbrothers - YouTube. Or Craigslist. Pinterest, Etsy, Reddit… These are all examples of people and organizations who, by essentially giving their best stuff away, created immensely valuable assets.

 

How does this apply to you within your current organization? What is the “best stuff” that is hidden within one part of the organization while it is desperately needed somewhere else? Do you have an opportunity to help improve your own value by “giving away your best stuff”?

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