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3 Ways to Mess Up Enterprise Social

Enterprise social networking may still be in early infancy when it comes to adoption, but its popularity couldn’t be larger. Question: What happens when you have a lot of inexperienced people rushing to use enterprise social networking tools? Answer: A hot mess.

So what usually goes wrong? Well, Jessica Stillman from GigaOm wrote a nice piece to help us navigate the difficulties of adopting and implementing social enterprise technology.

Product Dump FAIL

Once place where companies usually mess up is during product implementation. According to David Lavenda, VP of marketing at, a lot of companies blow it during the initial roll-out of these social apps. “Simply throwing out social tools isn’t going to work,’ he says, pointing to Forrester research”. According to Forrester, even though companies invest in an average of five or more tools, 64% realized few, if any, benefits from that investment. More surprisingly, only 8% use social collaboration software once a week. What can we learn from this? You need to train your team, take some time and highlight the benefits and how to use these tools. Don’t just dump it all out there for people to use because if you do….they won’t and you’ll FAIL!

People don’t like change

Ever gone to the grocery store to buy your favorite cereal, only to realize it’s sold out? What a drag, right? Yet, you quickly find another substitute so you don’t go hungry. OK, so a bit of an exaggeration, but the same idea is applicable when you look at introducing new social enterprise tools. Sure, there’s always a few who embrace change, but when rolling out a new tool designed to make your organization more social keep in mind all the grief that even the smallest changes to consumer social networks create. Enterprise 2.0 author Andrew McAfee “warns organizations to, ‘never underestimate the fondness of people and organizations for the status quo.’ When transitioning to a social model, it’s imperative to understand exactly how users work. Then, build a strategy and toolset that integrates with these practices in a way that makes sense with their current workflow, rather than asking users to make a dramatic change in their behavior.’”

Hold off on Nuking Old Technology

“The idea is to improve productivity, not hinder it” says Lavenda and he’s right. He correctly points out that when strategies aren’t generating the desired results, people are quick to nuke the entire tech stack in favor for something new.  New technologies may help you achieve your goals but keep in mind how disruptive swapping everything out at once can be – it’s like demolishing the entire house instead of remodeling only the kitchen. When considering replacing technologies “plan for a gradual introduction that allows users to get up to speed with new functionality and capabilities at a comfortable pace.”

Less is Best

More may be better when it comes to vacation days, desserts, and money (unless you’re Notorious BIG – high five for those caught that). When it comes to tools for the social enterprise, less is best. The last thing you want to do is find all these excellent solutions, but in order to use them you end up forcing team members to login to each separately – super adoption killer. “Try to find solutions that allow them one go-to place for many needs. ‘An effective social strategy must start in a familiar environment and then aggregate all other pieces into the users’ based of operations. The goal is to eliminate steps, not add more. Bundling collaboration tools together in a common contest and shared window drives faster, more widespread adoption and delivers the promised benefits of social enterprise integration much quicker” says Lavenda.

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