Keys to a Successful Enterprise-Wide Social Adoption

As the rate of companies and government agencies deploying enterprise-wide social strategies and tools increases — whether it be IBM’s Connections, SharePoint, Yammer, Huddle, or some combination of these — it’s important not to focus on simply why these tools are important, but how to make them successful. There’s no silver bullet strategy or tool that will give every organization a social leg up, increasing employee engagement, and facilitating knowledge sharing and expertise location. There are, however, ways to encourage and increase adoption rates.

The IBM Center for Applied Insights recently released the results of a new study titled, “Charting the Social Universe: Social ambitions drive business impact.” These results are based on surveys of almost 400 business and IT leaders from around the world.

What I found particularly interesting in this study were some of the key takeaways around social adoption, all of which I work to apply and help my clients to achieve, with one extra point I think is important to include.

Lessons from the Front Lines

  1. Pursue an enterprise strategy: Implementing a social strategy one line of business at a time is not only painful, it’s also rarely successful. As this study suggests, rare is the organization that already has an enterprise social strategy, but an increasing number have realized they need one.
  2. Drive continuous adoption: Offering a social tool with support of an email campaign just isn’t enough. Full adoption efforts need not only to be continuously pushed, but also must be tied to a specific business purpose or goal. Which leads me to number three:
  3. Tie adoption success to metrics: Measure and determine the success of any social adoption work through the achievement of particular goals. This is extremely important whether those goals are increasing employee satisfaction or providing better customer service.
  4. Engaging leaders: It’s possible this is the aspect I push the hardest when working to adopt social with clients. It can’t stressed enough how important top-level buy-in is to a successful social strategy. Executives leading by example by posting blog posts rather than sending mass emails or holding Q&A sessions not only drives participation, but helps show employees that those to whom they’re reporting deem social a worthy use of their time.
  5. Don’t bullshit the end users: The people who will be using the tools day in and day out are your number one priority and can determine the success or failure of any social effort. Spend the extra time explaining how this will help make their work lives easier; sit down with them and walk through specific aspects of the solution; but don’t lie, cajole, or give an answer to a question just because that’s what you think the questioner wants to hear. Not only will this erode your credibility, you’ll also lose any momentum or progress you’d made converting that person to a new way of working.

As this study states, enterprise social deployment has doubled over the past two years, and by employing these keys to adoption, you can help guarantee a successful social enterprise-wide roll-out.


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