How to Win the Enterprise Social Networking Game

Enterprise social networking, by design, works like a game. The more often you play, the more you win.

Christian Ulrik Andersen, Professor, Ph.D. at University of Aarhus, writes about the life in a social network seen through a game. The “game is a social activity that demands an invitation, permission or appointment. Permission to play can be granted, given or decided according to people’s own free will. One may ask players to play football, ask if one can join the game or schedule a meeting. Nobody is forced. If any kind of force was involved any element of fun and leisure would immediately disappear and it would seem more like work.”

“Forced” is the operative word. Just like any communication platform, employees aren’t forced to use an enterprise social network. Employees act on their own volition and get just as much out of it as they put in.

When you play cards for example, you get better at the game by playing often. You get better when you find better partners. The same works for enterprise social. Like a game, you get more experienced and better at leveraging the network by participating more often.

Employees usually participate in one of three patterns: contributors, followers or both.  Some employees will say, I don’t contribute often, but I receive value by following certain people and subjects discussed in the network. It’s an evolutionary process. Even naysayers eventually become interested because everyone starts to receive value from the network.

The more ubiquitous the network is—offered everywhere—the more viral it gets. Everyone is interconnected, but also free to post from where it makes sense—business applications, internal websites and from any device. With everyone participating, either by contributing content or simply following, the more productive it gets.