Daily Archives: July 29, 2011

Making social networking work inside the firewall

imageSocial intranet sites offer great opportunities to engage with and influence members of staff in ways that are different to traditional email communications.

This ‘engagement with sentiment’ that can be captured in almost real time can show sentiment, buzz and can capture the general morale of the company.

Regular engagement inside social networks can also improve the morale of companies.

Many attempts to incorporate social activities and collaborative ways of working however have mixed results due to the lack of time investment, willing participants and difficulty in getting good social content, presence and engagement. The use of a security token to access the intranet via VPN poses a challenge to those users who travel extensively and are not connected to corpnet for most of their working day.

Bringing Social Networks inside an organisation can bring several benefits some of which are:

  • Gain better interaction within networks
  • Use implementation of tools such as SharePoint or Lotus Connections as a social object to encourage engagement
  • Share hot topics with network groups
  • Talk to and listen to networks
  • Collaboration and Crowdsourcing for ideas
  • Activate employees and encourage better interaction
  • Make networks activities accessible outside of the corporate network
  • Build trust and networking within groups
  • Encourage on-going interaction between group leaders

Unfortunately, the sheer amount of corporate intranet sites usually results in poor signposting to any community sites that may exist in different countries and there is often a lack of awareness that a network site exists.  Often staff are reluctant to communicate socially, depending on the existing corporate culture.  Often they prefer to use Office Communications Server, Lync or SameTime Instant Messaging to have 1: 1 conversation or 1:group social conversations.

Unfortunately, this way of communication tends to exclude staff who are not in the office or online at that moment and group messages can sometimes be missed.

Companies too, often have a culture that is dominated by email messages, pushed out to staff. This is an effective way of communicating which suits the road warriors. These mobile users spend the majority of their time travelling and access most communications on their mobile devices. The number of corporate mobile devices tends to be increasing with more and more staff being given company mobile phones.  Brands need to communicate brand messages, sales successes and client wins and new partnerships in this way and this is traditionally done using emails and newsletters.

Ensuring longevity of interaction ion social networks  internally has also got to be a priority.

During the initial launch of a new network, activity, and therefore awareness, is high. Unfortunately, as activity decreases post launch of the network portal, awareness and follower churn happens and participation interest decreases as work commitments take priority.  Social networking flattens organisations by allowing communications outside of silos, outside of organisational boundaries. 

But it can work – with the right amount of effort and repeated interaction

Deloitte Australia use social media as a way to improve communications across the organisation,making them more relevant, and able to manage risk.

If it works for them – it can also work for you too.  Why don’t you try to flatten your organisation by incorporating social networking into your environment?

All you need is some advocates inside your organisation who are willing to sustain engagement until others use the new way of interacting and communicating.  It’s worth the investment of their time – and will pay off in the long term…

Image credit: Flickr 

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.