Deploying a Successful Enterprise Social Network: Best Practices From the Field

Deploying a successful enterprise social network requires a holistic plan that not only focuses on deploying the new technology, but also on the human aspect of the cultural change it entails. With the proliferation of social media tools in the consumer space, most users find it very easy to understand Yammer and how to use it. Even so, there could be some hesitation by users to leverage an enterprise social network if they are unclear on how the organization itself is embracing it,  how they are expected to use it on a daily basis and the benefits they will achieve from it. Over the many successful deployments of Yammer, we have gained insights into the ingredients for success. Success should be defined by every organization to align to its own strategic objectives at the outset; what we define as success is meeting and exceeding these predefined success metrics laid out by each customer.

While specifics differ across customers, all successful deployments have included the following steps in common:

Define and communicate a clear vision

  • Provide clarity for employees on how this new platform supports the Company’s core values, mission and stratetic objectives. In addition, employees  must have a clear understanding of how it will help them acheive their own day-to-day goals.
  • Define success metrics up front. In order to design the right strategy to achieve your vision, you need to have a way to measure success. Success metrics serve as markers and will provide crucial information on how to adjust the tactics and strategy.

Create awareness to increase adoption

  • Form a coalition across different business groups to champion this vision. Identifying internal influencers and partners allows you to drive excitement that leads to greater adoption. These partners should include both, executives from different parts of the Company, as well as respected non-executives who can motivate through informal authority.
  • Have an official launch event to build excitement and to provide next steps on how to use the network. A launch event focuses the initial adoption, which creates a momentum that leads to greater adoption and modeling of desired behaviors. Follow it up with official re-launch events to introduce the platform to new users and to remind exisiting users of its power.

Reduce obstacles for adoption

  • Identify groups and users that have use cases that can benefit the most from the Enterprise Social Network. This discovery process allows you to find users that are ready to adopt and quickly buy into the vision.
  • Enable all your users to use the network. You may focus on specific use cases, but should expect for voluntary adoption by other users to lead to unexpected new use cases. Integrating the platform with existing tools, such as Sharepoint, also reduces obstacles for adoption.
  • Seed the network with useful information to quickly show value to users. ESNs are only as valuable as the information that users can get from it. With a critical mass of activity, static information will morph into conversations.
  • Provide targeted training. Because your users have different levels of understanding, addressing specific needs with the right information will increase adoption. Some common user levels include executives, power users, champions and new users.

Increase engagement

  • Leverage your champions to promote and pull in others. A fully utilized network encourages top-down, bottom-up and horizontal communication.  Champions should include executives and non-executive users, in order to encourage 360-degree communication.
  • Nudge people by utilizing different tactics. For example use the Praise feature to publicly recognize people, publicly @ mention users with questions, help connect people to experts. After you’ve done that, get out of the way and let them carry on the conversation.
  • Convert new users to power users, power users to champions. Everyone has the chance to be a champion, but their journey may be different.  Providing targeted support will help them on that journey.

Learn from your users

  • Follow up with users to identify new use cases and best practices. Our many customers have allowed us to work together to define common best practices. However, you organization is unique, and your specific goals and circumstances should be taken into account. Keeping in touch with your users will alert you to some creative use cases that you wouldn’t be able to predict otherwise.
  • Adjust your strategy as you learn. Establishing specific metrics of success  is crucial to understanding if you are meeting  your goals. If something is not working, be flexible to course correct based on your learnings. Also, understand that your organization is not static either; there are new objectives, new challenges, new employees, new use cases. Build in flexibility to monitor, reassess and act.

Back to you reader! How do you ensure success in deploying a successful Enterprise Social Network?

Photo source: joeltelling