Building Your Social Intranet - Step 6 Cultivating your Community

And finally my last post about building your social intranet. The final step might even be the most important one. It’s a step that is often skipped. For some reason people still think you just have to give technology to the organization and the employees will jump on it. Over and over again this has proven to be false (although the technology adoption barier is very low in most internal social platforms).

The last step is about cultivating your community. A social intranet is not alive in itself. It needs to be keep alive and fibrant. Potentially a social intranet supports most of your organization: the network-side of the company. If so, it is extremely important to make sure it can actually do so and continues to do so. This is even more important because sharing and collaborating with your employees is different than with your friends. Some say: Well, it works automatically on Facebook, so it should on our internal networking platform. I wish it were that easy. (And I don’t this it’s that automatic on Facebook either.) 

Look at your social intranet as a big community, consisting of many smaller communities. These communities must be facilitated and cultivated. In my experience the best community cultivation is done by a multidisciplinary team. Consisting of someone from HR, Communications, IT and the business. They pick up the responsibility to own and lead the community. This can be a formal or informal role. Their job is to encourage communication via the platform and outside of it. They train employees and explain why the social intranet was set up. They help them use the social intranet in a way that is effective and efficient to them. Measuring is also done by this team and the report findings to decision makers. The team learns from their own organization and other organizations how the platform can be improved, which elements should be added and removed. They connect people to eachother. And expect the unexpected. 

So, this wraps up step 6! If you’ve read closely step 6 actually leads us back to Step 1: Listening. Good community cultivation is listening closely to employees and the organization. So in a sense the steps that have listed can be seen as a circle. A social intranet begins and ends with listening. 

Do you agree? I hope you enjoyed my posts. Hopefully they were useful as well. Did I miss steps that you would add? I’d love to hear you thoughts and experiences in this area. All comments are welcome!

Building Your Social Intranet – Step 5 Measure

In the last couple of weeks I wrote some posts describing steps that help you build your social intranet. I’ll round up this series of post in two final posts. The last two steps towards a social intranet are: measure and cultivate your community. This post will address measuring.

As we know from many intranet studies measuring is almost always forgotten. Not many organizations have metrics to know how well their intranet is received and used. In my experience the same goes for social intranets or elements of social intranets like microblogging. This is often directly related to the fact that these intranets don’t have a goal to start with…

I advise you to make sure you measure as much as possible. This is the way to check whether the goals you set are being reached. It also helps you sell the social platform within your organization. Managers will like to know what the return on investment is. Sceptics might be convinced to join if you show them hard numbers. Etc. 

If people measure they mostly focus on hard numbers. Like the number of (active) participants, the number of conversations, the number of page views, how long people stay on the platform, etc. These are good things to measure and pay attention to. However, these numbers don’t really address the value of the platform. And what do these numbers really mean?

I think social intranets are challenging us to look broader. Don’t only focus on hard numbers, but also on the soft ones. They can be just as or even more convincing to fellow employees and decision makers. How can this be done?

When you measure hard numbers, this is done automatically. With an analytics tool for instance. When measuring soft numbers you have to go out and talk to users. Ask them what kind of value they are getting from the social intranet or parts of it. What are they getting from microblogging in a factory or blogging pre-liminary research results? The answers to these kind of questions will never show up in analytics. But… they show the value of the social intranet in a more compelling way. I find they are much more convincing than the hard numbers.

Let me give you an example of a true story. When I asked one person what she was getting from microblogging she shared this story. At a point in time she had to set up a wiki for a project. She was asked to make sure the hard- and software was there and the wiki would work. Before she started ordering, she posted a short update on the microblogging platform. She said: “Going to set up a wiki for a new project I’m working on!” Shorty thereafter someone replied: “Nice and good luck! I assume you know we already have a corporate wiki platform. You can start by creating a wiki page.” Half an hour later she answered: “Really?! Didn’t know that. You just saved us a month in the project planning. Thanks!”

You see? This could never be concluded from statistics. But when I tell this to employees and managers they can’t say this platform is useless.

Do you measure your (old) intranet? And how about your social intranet? In which way do you measure? And are the results convincing to your organization?

Reasons to go to the Social Now conference #socialnow

Many organizations have a hard time with selecting the right technology for their business. There is a huge need for expert support here. The company I work for helps select Content Management Systems for instance. Decision makers wonder what to choose. "Should I focus on a platform that is good at content management? Or should I focus on social first? What is the right approach?" Not many people are experts in this field. Not many people have to select new technology very often. Organizations do this every 3-5 years. So when they do, they get nervous and find it hard to oversee the field they’re looking at and the decision they’re making. They don’t want to invest in technology that will become irrelevant in just one or two years. They want to make a sustainable choice.

Interestingly, there is now a conference that helps decision makers (and their helpers) do just that. There are basically two kinds of conferences: one focuses on business (users, adoption, business case, etc), the other on technology (design, functionality, development, etc). The Social Now conference aims to bridge this gap. It wants to help decision makers from all parts of the organization to find the right solution for their problem. This is done in a unique way. Social Now takes its starting point in practice. Real-life cases will be presented. The case describes situations and problems that could be improved with social technology. After the case has been presented several social technology suppliers are asked to pitch their solutions. Subsequently a panel of social business experts will help the decision makers ask the important questions to the suppliers. Of course, all conference attendees may join this discussion and ask questions. 

More good reasons to come? Well, Social Now also has a great list of interesting keynote speakers, like Oscar Berg and Lee Bryant. And the conference is in Porto, need I say more.

Why am I blogging about this conference? Because I think the organize are onto something here. This conference concept is truly unique. Many companies are struggling in this area. Furthermore, I’m honored to say I will be the master of ceremony of the conference. :-)

Will you be going the Social Now conference? I hope so! It will be great to meet you there. I’d love to hear why you are going and what you think of the conference concept. Please leave comment.
And if you’re not going, I’d love to hear why as well. And if you’re not sure yet, please let me know. I can offer you a special price. Hopefully that will motivate you to come! ;-)