4 tips to get the most out of your enterprise social network

If implemented and maintained effectively, the value of an enterprise social network can be huge for a global organisation. It provides new ways to communicate, collaborate and bring people from disparate parts of the business together.

It can be a great replacement to static collaboration sites on SharePoint and also provide a chance for employees to have their say. However, businesses face a challenge when introducing these tools as it’s difficult to ensure adoption and change behaviours within a business culture.

From our experience of integrating social platforms within intranets, and working with customers to define social strategies for our Unily intranet solution, a few things have become clear. Some steps need to be taken in order to really drive the value from an enterprise social network and see it become a normal part of your employees’ digital workplace. Some are simple, some can be a hurdle but overcoming them can see your social platform thrive as part of your digital workplace.

4 must do steps for a useful social intranet

1. Think about the bigger picture

It’s essential that you’ve decided to implement a social network for the right reasons and in a way that aligns with your overall business strategy. Think about how you can move workloads onto your social network that will put the use of the platform into some context, helping to drive employees’ productivity while increasing engagement with the platform. Why not try using social:

  • To drive reactions and comments from your intranet communications – by integrating commenting, sharing and liking functionality directly onto your content
  • For CEO micro-blogging – The social network can be a great platform for micro-blogging, allowing users to quickly post content to the whole company. This is a good way for a CEO to connect with the wider community
  • For a private collaboration group – A social networking like Yammer for example allows you to share all kind of content, including documents, making it an effective platform to manage small-scale project or interest groups
  • To add dynamic conversation to static collaboration sites – Embed social channels or groups onto collaboration sites across your intranet, such as SharePoint Sites or Unily Sites. This brings dynamic conversation onto previously static pages
  • For company announcements – Move the shorter, time-pressured company announcements onto your social platform and advise employees’ to check there for the latest information
  • To support the launch of new products or initiatives – Garner excitement from your community by using social for comments and feedback when launching a new initiative

The better the connections and purpose to the work your employees are currently doing, the greater the success will be

2. Define success and pilot

Define what success means to you - As part of your plan, define what you would classify as a success. That might be helping colleagues across borders to collaborate, reducing email levels or enabling more engagement from disparate workers such as those on the shop floor.  Whether big or small, know what they are. Quantify and map these goals to the social network’s functionality and ensure you’ll be able to monitor or track analytics to support your findings.

Start with a pilot – A great place to gauge initial user reactions is to run a pilot with a group of employees. See where it works, where it doesn’t, what changes you need to make and learn from them. You’ll also learn from the more unusual and innovative ways your employees will inevitably find to use the platform. Go with this rather than against it and see how you can incorporate it as part of your overall strategy.

3. Clarify and define use cases

However much you like the idea of social, there will be people you have to persuade along the way and deep-set behaviours you will need to change. To combat this, ensure you have a plan. Especially at the beginning while you’re trying to win people over, make sure to uncover and announce the individual, project and team use cases that demonstrate how the social network is solving problems. When you find these, it will become much easier to convince the non-believers.

A few tips to help garner global acceptance:

  • Video tutorials to teach employees the functional aspects of the product
  • Developing some use case examples to explain where and when social could be used to support day to day activities
  • Crowning your champions – getting as many people on side will make your job a lot easier. Pick out a few key people from your major teams who you think will understand the value and get them to teach their relevant teams in way that will work for them.
  • Be prepared to justify to more hesitant employees – Think about all the questions your boss/old-school colleague will ask you about social, whether it be security, use, cost, and work out what your answer will be. Does it justify it to one of your tougher colleagues? That’s a good place to start.

Top Tip: Be prepared to be agile. You’ll only start to understand how to get the best out of a social network when your employees start using it. Let their use of social guide your ongoing strategy.

4. Link, Re-Skin or Integrate

Whether you’ve already got your enterprise social network up and running or you’re planning what solution to use at the moment, ask yourself this question. Is enterprise social a central part of our digital workplace? If it’s not, start thinking of social as a behaviour, not as a separate platform. It is a new way of communicating that can be integrated into all aspects of your online systems.

Your intranet is a great place to start, the hub of collaboration for many companies. Think about how you can bring your social feed, profiles and functionality into your intranet so the behaviour seems seamless alongside your other content and information. Our Unily solution is a great example of how to do this.>

  • Can you pull in Yammer groups onto your collaboration site or integrate your Yammer sites seamlessly?
  • Can you bring in Liking and Commenting onto the content of your intranet?
  • Can you integrate social intelligence i.e. followers/ posts onto your employee’s profiles?
  • Can you embed social feeds across static pages on the intranet

To find out what’s going to add value for you will take some time and a bit of planning, but the benefits of integrating the functionality with your main solutions and systems hugely outweigh the time to set it up.

Remember: Any platform that requires a separate sign in/new browser tab is immediately a bigger challenge to get employees to adopt. Bring it to them instead of making them hunt down what’s going to help them.

I hope that some of these tips highlight some of the ways our clients’ are seeing success and driving value from social. To learn more about how we can help you to deliver an effective enterprise social solution as part of an intranet, or to learn more about our Unily intranet solution, get in touch today.

Talk to us about Unily

Hannah Unsworth Senior Business Analyst

In Hannah’s role as consultant, she gets involved at the very beginning of a project, running workshops to understand the client’s needs and wants. Her British Computer Society training certainly helps with this vital requirements gathering stage, but her work doesn’t end there. As well as putting together wireframes for new solutions, on Unily projects Hannah also becomes a Customer Success Manager. This vital role involves working with clients to prepare them for product deployment, and ensuring a successful launch and continued engagement. Hannah enjoys the challenge of understanding how business work and working out how her solutions can improve it.

Outside work, Hannah is sporty and outdoorsy listing rowing, skiing and camping as some of her favourite activities.

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