While social media is widely used by businesses to engage connected customers, many organizations have yet to buy into internally-focused social networking. This is a mistake.
When used properly, social software such as Yammer and Facebook at Work can raise productivity by as much as 25%, a recent McKinsey study found. However, although 70% of companies cited in the study claimed some use of internal social networking, most struggled to justify ongoing value.
In our view, this difficulty is due to several factors, including the failure to develop a strategy, identify internal influencers and communicate compelling reasons to participate. When organizations address these issues, we believe internal social software will become their “neural network,” helping them learn faster, collaborate better, strengthen their culture and share insights with colleagues.
From Platforms to Results
Many companies have avoided internal social networking, and those that have typically feel they have little to show for their effort. A key reason: Choosing the best platform is not the only action item. As with any important initiative, organizations must articulate a coherent strategy, empower sponsors who can champion the benefits of internal social networks, and encourage participation with the help of social listening and compelling analytics.
We helped a major British retailer implement a social networking strategy that enabled it to share success stories, improve product placement and speed problem resolution. The company implemented Yammer, a popular enterprise collaboration tool, at 3,000 store locations. Similarly, we helped a global energy company improve executive communication, external collaboration and global conversations through Yammer-based internal social networking. While direct business benefits are difficult to calculate, both companies noticed a marked improvement in overall collaboration and problem resolution.
When considering how to implement internal social networking, we recommend starting with clear and measurable goals. Appoint evangelists to promote the selected platform, and encourage participation with effective rewards and inspiring use cases.
Thanks to social media platforms such as Facebook (and the recently released Facebook at Work), most workers are comfortable with the notion of reading a news feed, posting, following, engaging and responding, and require little education or training before moving onto an internal social media platform. The ingredients are all there for businesses to use social networking to improve collaboration.