Enterprise Social Network

Changing the channel doesn’t change the world

I’ve been attending a few events recently about the various enterprise social network (ESN) platforms available to organisations to help them connect, collaborate and work out loud. These events are generally tailored towards organisations but even though I’m consulting now, I like to go along to learn about how different companies are using enterprise social, what successes they have seen and what lessons they have learnt.

During a Q&A session at the most recent event I attended, a question was asked that really got me thinking – “if the ESN we are using now isn’t working, how can we switch everything to a new platform to make it work again?” At Engage Squared, I spend my days talking to clients and helping them come up with strategies to engage with and adopt technology in the workplace and this question from another attendee sparked a million more in my mind:

“Why isn’t it working?”

“What have you tried to build engagement?”

“Do your employees understand the purpose for your ESN?”

There are a few enterprise social tools available to organisations and all of them are reasonably easy for an employee to use. With the ease of use and connection to these tools, it can’t be the channel for collaboration that needs to change, it’s the way that it’s used and simply changing the platform isn’t going to fix this problem. Sure, you’ll launch a new ESN, there’ll be some fanfare and the shiny new toy will get some great attention and use from employees for a few months but ultimately this enthusiasm will die off and so will use of the enterprise social network. Not even taking into consideration the time and money spent on the project to do this!

So, if you’re facing this challenge now – it might be low usage of your Yammer network or only one department posting messages on Workplace – think less about the collaboration tool you have being the reason and more about how you are using it. When tools have a place and a purpose within the corporate technology landscape, and employees can understand how and when they should be using them, it will give them the confidence to use an enterprise social network to its full potential!

Another important tip is not to rely on adoption to be driven from the bottom up. You need to have senior leadership support to drive real engagement from employees in enterprise social. Think of it this way, on LinkedIn the most prominent and successful business people have the most followers, comments, likes and mentions – imagine this in your organisation with your CEO! Now imagine how engaged employees would be with your enterprise social network if their CEO liked or even replied to their posts – that can turn an employee’s average day into a great one, just think about how valued that employee would feel!

Of course, it’s not as simple as just telling employees the business purpose and getting your CEO to click ‘like’ a few times to really see true adoption success on an enterprise social network. However, these are some key drivers for change and adoption in an organisation and by starting here you will begin to create a movement to work better, together!