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Big Ideas

Creating a Successful Internal Social Network

by Celeste Tillson

November 2014

Ready to try an internal social network deployment? First and foremost, make sure that it’s readily available, easy to use, and intuitive. Beyond that, here are some best practices that will help it succeed:

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“The best way to think of it is as a platform to build on top of,” says Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work (Wiley, 2014). “Everything you use should be available to your internal social network. You want things to work together as much as you can.”

  1. Integrate with everything.

    Internal social networks that function as separate entities from the rest of your business are less likely to get a lot of use. Instead, it makes more sense to integrate the social network into your corporate portal so that using it becomes second nature.
  2. Get high-level adopters.
    The quickest path to employees engaging with an internal social network is for top executives to lead by example. “Adoption is sometimes a challenge,” says Patrick Harper, CIO at OpenText. Getting employees to turn away from their accustomed communications channels and use a social network instead may require a cultural shift, he says. “That must be driven by high-level sponsorship.”
  3. Set measurable objectives.
    One mistake enterprises make when deploying an internal social network is that they don’t set specific goals, says Morgan. That makes it very hard to tell whether the network is a success or not. There is a wide range of potential benefits that a social network can bring, so determine which is most important for your organization and how progress will be tracked.

“Sometime metrics can be pulled directly from the platform,” Morgan says. “Other times it may be anecdotal.” You can also use quarterly surveys to ask employees if they’re feeling more engaged or getting their work done more quickly, he adds.

You may get some answers by examining the social network itself. “Let’s say you want to break down silos,” Morgan says. “Look at the groups that form. Do their members come from different function areas? If they do, that’s a pretty good indication that silos are breaking down.”

Action Items
  • HR WORKBOOK: Do Your Employees “Like” Their Work?
  • Photography by Shutterstock