Enterprise 2.0 Conf: Creating a socialization plan for deploying social media in the Enterprise

by David Spark on June 13, 2008

What’s the business value of social networking? What do you want to accomplish by deploying it? And how do you get people to use Web 2.0 tools within the enterprise. This is just a few of the questions posed by moderator Chris Brogan, Vice President, Strategy & Technology, CrossTechMedia and the audience to the panel of Katie Delahaye Paine, Founder & CEO, KDPaine & Partners, LLC, Maggie Fox, Contributor, Social Media Group, and Rob Howard, CEO, Telligent.

First issue with social networking in the enterprise is the difficulty for businesses to articulate what is it they want. When posed with the question, “What is the business problem you’re trying to solve?” they respond with answers like “Someone told me we should do this” or “We want to get our feet wet.”

Social media requires you to be agile. Enterprises are trying to be agile, but they can’t. Unlike the individual or small business, Fortune 100 companies can’t turn on a dime.

Once organizations can show the value of what they’re trying to accomplish, IT gets involved very quickly. And the business side gets very interested once they see the mounds of internal and external data that’s generated.

Often organizations think they need training wheel steps to getting on, and so they limit their launch to only internal. If you do start only internally, you won’t see any of the pain points that will result from outside criticism.

Blogging is a status symbol unlike email. When you publish externally its this public face you want to share. But even though you’re public, you’ll still want a space for an internal dialogue, where you can ask dumb questions and make mistakes. It’s important to have that internal safe harbor. When you’re a public company blogger, you don’t want to bust the perception that they’re an expert externally.

Launching an enterprise social network requires investment in a socialization plan. The “we will build it and they will come” attitude doesn’t work. State Farm learned that hard fact when they launched an internal blog and nobody came. They stepped back, and put in another effort to form a socialization plan to get people interested and involved. The step they took was to place tent cards at every State Farm office around the world. And that alone is what got morale and engagement to increase.

When you’re developing a socialization plan, look to develop a solution that taps into the self interest of the user. You have to figure out what you’re going to do for them. You want to create a situation where once they use it, they’ll quickly see the value.

Socialization is ongoing. It’s not just a first step that requires a grand announcement. You have to keep people engaged, and as users become more savvy, they’ll need additional functionality to stay interested.

One socialization example is to put up information that can only be found on a wiki. And then play a game with employees, like “Who wants to be a corporate millionaire?” If they want to play the game well, they’ll have to research the wiki for answers. It’s just a way to retain your users.

Socialization is a change management effort. You have to create a budget item. Think about forgoing funding for technology investment for a socialization program.

For millenials and Gen Y, social networking is not a fad. This is the way people will expect to work when they come to your organization. When they graduate and get into positions where they can make decisions within the organization, these are the tools they’re going to use. One panelist argued that this won’t be a revolution. Millenials won’t turn a company upside down. But like the transformation from voice mail to email for leaving messages, millenials and Gen Y will view email as being too slow and opt for social networking tools.

Make sure you check out the summary of all coverage from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2008 in Boston.

This post is cross-posted from the Enterprise 2.0 Blog.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: