Guidelines for Choosing an Enterprise Social Network

So, you’ve made it to the point where you’ve convinced your executive leadership an enterprise social network is necessary to compete in the modern business age.  But now you have an additionally difficult decision to make:  which of the many choices available should you use?

Unfortunately, terms like “best” are misleading.  In reality, different social media tools have different strengths.  So, the right decision for your organization will be to use the one with the strengths that best support your business’s goals.  To assist you in making the right decision for your situation, consider the following guidelines:

  1. How will this tool help you achieve your business goals?  Always, always, always tie the usage of an internal social network to your business goals.  How will it support information sharing?  Will customers also be able to use it to provide feedback?  Will it be used to allow eased communication with executive leadership?  If you’re having a hard time defining how this will work, then it’s wise to wait until you know very well how social media will support your business goals.
  2. What current barriers to communication will an enterprise social network resolve?  We don’t want to overwhelm you, but considering the answers to the following questions will reveal some of the precise benefits a private social network can bring to your company… Are important documents getting lost in the e-mail shuffle? Do client or employee questions get buried in the overwhelmingly large stack in your inbox? How challenging is it for workers to communicate with others in the organization who have specialized knowledge? Do your various departments currently operate more as isolated silos than connected parts of a functional system?
  1. Concretely define success.  Simple goals may be the number of posts created per day or number of users active on the system during a given time period.  But what’s important is not so much the fact people are using internal social media, but how they are using it.  When you define concrete measurements for success, you can start to also clarify the most effective uses for enterprise social media.  For example, you might measure the reduction in travel costs and time or customer feedback on product and service quality.
  2. Executive involvement.  It’s good to have executive sponsorship from day one.  Your leadership may not know too well itself how to use internal social media, but visible support will build anticipation, excitement, and confidence in employees, who are usually happy to follow the lead of executives.  When you consider these guidelines carefully in your decision making process, you will end up with a much better enterprise social network for your organization.  Which of these guidelines do you believe is most important for your business to consider?

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