This is the second in a two-part series looking at the reasons for success and failure of social networking projects inside businesses. The first part of the series looked at the reasons why, despite all the potential benefits they can deliver, many enterprise social networking projects fail in their first six months. This concluding part outlines seven phases that social business projects should include in order to increase their likelihood of success.
As discussed in part 1, the approach of letting social business adoption spread virally from the ground-up has been largely discredited. Yes, some organisations have succeeded in doing this, but many more have failed. The first, and most important, characteristic of a successful social business project is a mandate from senior management to apply social networking principles to real business issues. Without this mandate, employees will perceive participation as being optional, not part of their “real job”. And without this participation, the project will fail. A clear directive from the top removes any ambiguity as to whether this is a considered “real work”.
“Mandate” has a useful double meaning in this context. As a noun, it represents an authorisation, giving a social business team permission to proceed with a project. As a verb, it indicates a command from senior management. Both meanings are valid, as different organizations will require types of encouragement to push the project forward.
Once the project has the mandate to proceed, it is time to consider how to achieve the defined objectives. Successful projects form a small steering committee to plan the strategy for delivering the rest of the project. This committee needs to be large enough to represent all interested parties in the project, but not so large that rapid decision-making becomes difficult. This step should also define acceptable usage guidelines, identify the communities to be established, and the community managers who own them.
Only once the implementation strategy has been defined should the social network itself be set up. Too many projects start by setting up a network without a strategy in place, which leads to somewhat chaotic adoption. In this step, community managers should create the communities they will be using, and identify a “content taskforce” who they will work with for initial population of these communities.
Inviting people into an empty social network and hoping they will use it the way you intended is simply not realistic. With no model of best practices in place, it is inevitable that bad habits are formed right from the start. So, instead, the community managers should work with the content taskforce to create seed content that gives the wider audience a reason to join the network when invited, and provides an example of how the network should be used…
This article has been published with the permission of its original publisher, BCW.