Social Networking in the Enterprise

5 Tips For a Successful Enterprise Social Networking Deployment

Once you’ve sorted through hundreds of great solutions and found the best fit for your company, it’s time to make sure it thrives with successful enterprise social networking deployment. I have talked to many customers struggle with various software, especially SharePoint. They have paid a company hundreds of thousands of dollars to customize it for their specific needs but for the most part, it goes unused by their employees. Typically it is embraced by a few early adopters but then it fizzles out quickly and is only used as a repository by a few users, mostly in the IT department. Some could blame the software itself for being poorly designed or difficult to use but we think more often than not it has to do with having unreal expectations, not holding a launch plan to get people excited and engaged and not having measurements in place to gauge success. At MangoApps, we want you to love using our product and let it benefit your business for a long time. So in order to help you get things started, we’ve put together a list of our 5 top tips for successful enterprise social networking deployment.

Set Real Expectations

The key to any successful enterprise social networking deployment is setting realistic expectations. Even if you are just trialing a product, your expectations need to be realistic and attainable. There is no perfect answer for successful collaboration or there wouldn’t be hundreds of options for enterprise social networking on the market.

First, you need to lower the barrier for adoption. Things like setting up your company logo and branding for a familiar look and feel does a lot to make even a trial seem permanent to the users. The perception of permanence is a great tool. People will not offer up the effort for something that may be gone tomorrow. Another good step is to pre-populate content in groups, projects and even start syncing documents. Create common project templates to make it easier for your employees to set up a project. Make sure to keep things simple, intuitive, and fun.

Setting up a few activities on the events calendar is a great way to have content ready that users will need already there at their fingertips. By adding important events to the calendar, you let people know where to find the information and where to post it from now on. You can’t expect brand new users to know what to post and where to do it, so populating helpful content as much as you can will help train them by example.

Have A Launch Party

People love a party. Nothing gets people excited at work like a break in the day and free food. A great example of a launch party is the MangoApps client, Solera Networks.  Brian Bradshaw went all out to create a customized launch party during their enterprise social networking deployment. Special MangoApps t-shirts were given to employees who participated in the roll-out while participants watched the introduction demo they enjoyed mango slushies, chips and mango salsa, dried mangos, a gift certificate to RedMango and more. This launch party was definitely above and beyond what we anticipated, but what fantastic results it yielded! They have seen a 97.2% participation rate in their network.

Enterprise Social Networking Deployment

Enterprise Social Networking Deployment

Enterprise Social Networking Deployment

Enterprise Social Networking Deployment


Things To Do During Your Enterprise Social Networking Deployment

Enterprise social networking software allows you to narrate your work with a simple status update. These updates do two great things. First, it informs your boss and team about what you are working on, reducing the need for status meetings. Second, it shows others how to post and use the software successfully. Create engagement by highlighting and providing commentary on other’s good work. Just adding a quick comment or even just “liking” a post helps to encourage posting and creates a sense of community. Acknowledgment is a huge motivation for people. When our work is acknowledged we feel like our contributions matter. Natural usage develops when just a few champions initiate these types of posts.

Keep the discussions going when you see merit to do so. Long conversations can bring in others who might feel more comfortable posting after a few replies. Ask and answer questions. Using the Q&A portion of your enterprise social networking will also encourage great participation. Nobody will ask a question if they don’t get answers and nobody will answer if there are no questions available. Leverage the company brain! Talk about social stuff going on at the company. News that matters to your users most drives up readership and participation. Hopefully, your enterprise social networking also allows for static, top-down announcements like traditional intranets of years past.

Things To Avoid  During Your Enterprise Social Networking Deployment

There are of course things to avoid in your enterprise social networking, especially during its deployment phase. These can quickly create a tailspin and drive users away, which will, in turn, make your deployment not successful. Don’t be narcissistic. Nobody wants to hear how good you are, instead, give kudos to others. MangoApps’ Employee Recognition is a great way to give lasting accolades to your co-workers. Don’t gossip. This goes without saying but the quickest way to encourage co-workers to not talk to you is by spreading rumors and misinformation around. This may be social networking, but it’s not Facebook so keep the gossip out. Be respectful and don’t mock others or launch a personal attack. Keep the sarcasm and joking out of your working environment.

And never, I mean never, discuss sex, politics or religion. These are of course the most discussed topics in your Twitter or Facebook feed so it could be tempting to try and use them to drive discussion and adoption. But it almost always actually leads you in the opposite direction. In your personal life, you can lose friends by passionate posting about these subjects. But you can’t just unfriend your co-workers. You have to collaborate and work with them every day. To change up the old adage usually reserved for family, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your co-workers.”  Political and religious discussions will lead to poor adoption and unhappy co-workers as the drama ensues.

Finally, choose your terminology wisely when launching. Avoid words like try, trial or pilot.  These words give the impression that this is just a phase and may not be around permanently. It also demonstrates a lack of confidence from the top down and can be just as detrimental to your launch as grumblings from the bottom up.

How To Measure Enterprise Social Networking Deployment Success

The most important part of a successful deployment is of course having the tools in place to measure success. We can’t base success on subjective feelings like, “Is it working?” and “Do we feel better connected?” In order to accurately measure the success of deployment and adoption, you need to put hard and fast numbers on the ROI.  Richard Hughes wrote a great blog about the “10 things you should measure during your enterprise social network adoption” and we think he nailed it spot-on.

Look into the many facets of engagement. Who are your champions who contribute the most? Even though you don’t want them contributing everything, they work as an example to those with lower usage for training and encouragement. Also, group contributions are huge. I would say internally in our own deployment of MangoApps, 90% or more of the posts I read on an average day are in groups or projects. Targeted discussions encourage users to join in, it’s a classic ice-breaker and subject matter all rolled into one.

MangoApps allows the customization of the branding from day 1 with every trial and allows you to monitor user activity with reporting and analytics. We encourage adoption with tools that are necessary to get your work done every day. Wikis, Tasks, to-do lists, notes and file sync are just a few user-focused features that really encourage employees to use the software. Make sure you take the 5 steps above  and produce a great deployment and get to most back on your investment of money and time. A successful adoption will pay you back 10-fold by saving you money on silo’d software and help you get your projects done more efficiently. Get started for free with MangoApps full-featured FREEMIUM plan.