Sunday, September 26

Why is Enterprise Web 2.0 so hard?

Almost HR and Internal Communications practitioners see the benefits of Enterprise Web 2.0 to increase collaboration, engagement and break down silos…so why is enterprise web 2.0 taking so long to become a reality?

An August 2009 report from Jakob Nielsen looked at the state of enterprise Web 2.0 for internal communications. Important themes were:

Many organizations are not very far along with enterprise Web 2.0 

This is probably due to a number of factors such as the perceived risk of enterprise Web 2.0 and the IT resource required for an enterprise Web 2.0 implementation (at a time when IT teams probably have limited resources and need to focus these resources on keeping business critical applications running).
Internal communicators should think about using simple plug and play social media channels that minimise the IT resource required.  The full bells and whistles solution may never happen but a simple solution might…

Social media can expose the holes in internal communication

Social media channels may not be the sole way to plug these holes, other internal communications channels will also need to be improved accordingly.

Underground efforts yield big results

When you are trying to ‘sell in’ social media a big decision making committee usually needs to be involved.  They’ll inevitably be someone who slows or stops progress with risk and ROI arguments.  A (contained and low risk) underground effort can act as a pilot and case study to demonstrate value of enterprise Web 2.0 (or not! – we may not like this fact but social media uptake can sometimes be frighteningly low for a number of reasons).

Business need is the big driver.

No surprises here. We can’t just say “Twitter (or XXX tool) is great, you’re a luddite for not seeing it”.  We need to match solutions to business problems to ensure a enterprise  2.0 project gets buy in

Budget something for community management — not to control the conversation, but rather to guide it.

Pick an enterprise Web 2.0 solution that makes this easy.  Appropriate reporting that is custom built for internal communications is a good start. Desktop alerts to moderators when people post certain types of content is also helpful.

Those who lurk (rather than post) also benefit.

Use other internal communications channels to promote and deliver social media content, for example, summarize key themes in an electronic magazine with hyperlinks to participate

Value comes from the strength of its content

Some advocates argue that Twitter / microblogging can get messages across quickly (due to brevity). 

Which is best?

A) A tweet that the CEO has updated their blog post OR

B) An interactive screensaver with an image of a CEO at their desk with a pen (or whatever visual cue is appropriate) that appears for a few days and people can click to visit the blog directly.

Visual content wins hands down!

Seeding social tools with early content can be helpful

It’s also about promotion:

– Promote interesting content visually on an interactive screensaver (it’s not as hard as it sounds!)

– Use electronic staff magazines to summarize key themes

– Use news feeds for interesting updates to push scrolling headlines onto targeted employee’s computers

Internal social media breaks down communication barriers…which is good but can threaten people

Use an easy to use, low cost channel as a ‘toe in the water’ approach.  Make sure the enterprise 2.0 solution has security, employee targeting and lots of internal communications reporting to allay any concerns (e.g. the impact on productivity or ROI).

A role remains for “official” content to state official policies and positions.
No question about this.

Political and cultural changes needed for useful and widespread use take 3 – 5 years

The key is to take a phased approach with simple easy to use tools.  Use all of the internal communications channels at your disposal to raise awareness, shift attitudes and encourage participation in enterprise social media)

Procedures that required days or weeks for approvals need dramatic streamlining, or the story will run away on its own.

I.e., stop avoiding it and put your toe in the water with an enterprise 2.0 solution which is secure from leaks and easy for non techies to use.

A final comment is that people are finally understanding the value of ‘user generated content’ in terms of authenticity etc So even if you aren’t able to implement a social media solutionPsychology Articles, use tools that allow staff to input their own content – e.g. a user generated staff magazine such as Snap Mag.