While millions of people interact daily in public-facing social media channels, there are a growing number of internal social media solutions for the enterprise, becoming modern-day intranets of sorts. But do these systems work? And why might trying to bring social tools inside your gated corporate walls fail? Here are just a few reasons for corporate social networking failure — and ways to avoid them.
- Lack of a social culture. Mandating the use of social media tools such as social network-style collaboration and sharing applications like SocialText or Twitter-style messaging such as Yammer won’t create social interaction. Your company needs to start with a fundamentally communicative culture, one where open sharing and collaborating is encouraged. Just plugging in a new collaborations or communications tool won’t change the culture of your company. If people are hesitant — or even afraid — to draw attention to themselves within your company, they won’t welcome tools that force them into being more visible. While social tools can help expand and reinforce an open and collaborative environment, without mass adoption, they could potentially create deeper and darker silos within an organization. Examine your corporate culture first and create a more receptive environment for internal social tools.
- Lack of public participation If your team members aren’t already comfortable with using social media tools in their non-work life, chances are they won’t gravitate eagerly to the new social tools you’ve set up for inter-company inter-relating. The flip side of this is that you may see more immediate adoption from team members who are already social media enthusiasts. Identify team members who use s social tools to communicate outside of work and enlist them to help kickstart the use of the new tools. They will often be more comfortable with adopting such tools, and can help champion them to their colleagues.
- Lack of training. You may have some early adopters to champion your new internal company social media tools, but what about the rest of your team? Without proper training, those who aren’t as familiar with social networking and tweeting may feel left out or even overwhelmed. Even those who take to these tools like the proverbial fish to water will need some guidance as to how, when and why to use the tools in ways that fit into your company’s work processes. Before you install the software, re-examine how your team works, how they communicate and how to appropriately use the new social tools to enhance work and communications, not distract or hinder it. Provide written guidelines and training across the board, regardless of social media skills, to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them, in addition to how to use the tools properly.
- Lack of access. Has your firewall blocked team access to public social networks? You’re sending mixed messages if you are asking everyone to be more social, to share, to collaborate, to communicate more frequently internally and yet shut off access to public social tools. Before you open the floodgates, however, develop your internal “rules of the road” for interacting in public social media spaces.
- Lack of willingness. Not everyone will understand the benefit of using social tools internally, particularly for the workers who prefer to remain low-profile, nose-to-the-grindstone, and are content not being noticed. Using team-based social tools within a company can be taxing and can push some people beyond their comfort levels. Make sure the parameters you set up for internal use of social media tools are based on encouraging professional exchanges, expanding internal knowledge bases, increasing collaboration, and helping to improve communications. Be respectful of individuals who may not want to be so personal in a professional setting. Don’t force team members to share their personal interests, for example — make those features optional. While there is something to be said about knowing a little more about someone’s hobbies or interests to engender more human connections within an organization, it may be extremely off-putting to some.
What challenges do you foresee or are you working to overcome as you implement social media tools into your internal company processes?
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