Enterprise Social

Enterprise Social – Not an email replacement

  1. Here is another tool to talk to my co-workers and staff. Yet another tool to go and check or keep up to date. Email, IM, VoIP, Intranet, team sites, on top of the multiple meeting we have face to face. All of these work fine, what problem is enterprise social solving?
  2. Too much noise in the system, too many people are over social at work (lots of cat videos, and hey read this link I found on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. This may or may not have anything to do with getting work done.
  3. Do I really want Facebook for the workplace? You are the only person who post on the site.

These are just some of the major complaints I hear when it comes to introducing Enterprise social tools in the workplace, including the challenges I lived while at Microsoft after the Yammer acquisition. The question quickly becomes if “Social” is one of the four IT megatrends, how do you make sure you get the most out of the investment of enterprise social?

Enterprise social is not email replacement! Working socially or as I like to call it, “out in the open”, can help reduce the number of email messages in your inbox depending on your communication preferences, and at the same time I would not look to working in the open as a replacement for email communication. There are some communication that may not be appropriate in a social setting, like employe one on one’s, or questions that have nothing to do with helping the team meet their goals or generate new ideas.

(1)  Provide guidance to help people to understand that the platform is not Facebook for the enterprise, instead a tool that can help your company or group think social, in effort to accomplish a goal or task. Lead by example by allowing more visibility into some of your projects, ideas and work efforts. Give the community something they can provide feedback on early in your processes in an open forum.

(2) Enforcing good behavior by acknowledging post that are helpful is easy to do by simply clicking like, especially if you are a leader in the organization. This simple technique will train others to post similar content that is designed to help the group. Showing your approval for content that helps the group complete a task, or generate new ideas allows great content and interaction to rise to the top of the feed.

Social lurkers are out there and they love enterprise social, yet they never participate. I cannot tell you the number of times I have run into someone at a company meeting or cross team function where the identify me from my profile and tell me how much they read my post. There are many instances where I don’t have clue who the person is or that they even read my stuff at all. They NEVER click like or respond with a comment. I call them social lurkers. They benefit from the ideas and posting both formally and informally yet only acknowledge that read the feeds when in person.

The point that I learned here is that you are helping others even when you do not realize it. It will take time for a few of the social lurkers to contribute or become more active, while others will only ever want to read. That is fine, you will soon find out like I have enterprise social is having a positing impact.

Everyone in your group or team will not get it, and a few people will opt out all together. These are often the same people for the most part opt out of external social media as well. I would recommend that you consider creating policies that are inclusive and at the same time not solely designed for the exceptions in the group.  There are plenty of methods implemented in enterprise social platforms that allow people to stay in the tool they are most comfortable, in most cases email. Many enterprise social tools allow you to subscribe, respond and create content from the comfort of your email client.

Enterprise social and email are not at odds, they are both tools that participate in the ecosystem of how we communicate to get work done.