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About to implement an enterprise social network? Wait! Read this first

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About to implement an enterprise social network? Wait! Read this first

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A predicted 65% of large European enterprises will have adopted social tools for business purposes by the end of 2014, so it’s increasingly likely that if your company hasn’t already adopted an enterprise social network it will this year. Adopting social tools is easy enough, but making sure it is adopted properly is a whole different matter.

Simply rolling out an enterprise social network and expecting people to start using it is not enough. In fact, implementing an enterprise social network requires planning, strategy and careful project management which begins before the system is even in place. So how should you prepare to implement an enterprise social network?

1. Plan, plan, plan

Before you start doing anything else, you need to figure out exactly what you want to achieve from your enterprise social network. If you’ve had to pitch to higher ups in order to get buy-in for an enterprise social network, chances are you’ve planned it to the minutest detail already. Nevertheless, as with any project, planning is the most important step and it is without it that a project (and an enterprise social network) fails. In a previous blog post, we discussed the five steps to getting a business working social. The first two steps relate heavily to the planning process of implementing an enterprise social network: step one, identifying your social business vision; and step two, establishing how your vision fits with your core business values. Once you’ve established both of these, it will be much easier to set goals and measure successes of the new system.

2. Get the right tools

Really do your homework when selecting an enterprise social network platform. Ideally you want a platform where social tools integrate seamlessly with your file sharing and project management tools to help get work done, reduce costs and ease the administrative burden in an organisation. It’s vital to remember that while technology is not what makes an enterprise social network successful (it’s the people!), it certainly impacts the success.

3. Set measurable goals

You will want to be able to prove the value of your enterprise social network once it’s implemented. The best way to do this is to establish some key performance indicators to measure how well it is working (you’re most likely to be measuring employee engagement here) and set goals that add value to the business (increased productivity, or increased innovation are good goals to aim for). It’s up to you to work out how to measure these, but either way it’s important to be able to present this data to show how the enterprise social network is working meet your strategy as laid out in point 1.

4. Find champions

It’s really important to kick your enterprise social network off with a core group of users who will show the rest how it should be done. Find champions who are social savvy to take charge in the new enterprise social network, who will guide less confident users through the system and encourage others to participate. It’s important to get informal leaders involved at this stage, who will drive adoption with formal leaders along the line. Getting executives to commit to a certain level of participation is shown to stimulate company-wide activity.

5. Assign a Community Manager

Choose someone to monitor and manage the activity on the enterprise social network. The Community Manager can promote and steer discussions if necessary, and can be helpful when it comes to tracking activity and measuring for the KPIs you set out in point 3. A Community Manager can encourage users to get involved and help them build relationships with one another, while ensuring that any disputes (rare but possible) can be resolved quickly before they escalate.

In many ways, preparation is the most important stage when implementing an enterprise social network. As long as you know what you want from the system and you have a strategy for getting everyone involved, the launch should go smoothly and user engagement should start strong and stay that way. This should put you on the right track to achieve the ultimate goals of the enterprise social network which is to contribute to a social business culture and maximising efficiency and innovation through the network of people in the organisation.

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