As Enterprise Social Networks or ESN become more the rule than the exception, more and more people are connecting at work. Yammer, Teams, Groups, SharePoint, Facebook for Business, Slack, Jive and Chatter are some examples. How do you implement social collaboration in your organisation and how does it fit in with your Office 365 strategy?

One of the key things you’ll need to combat is lack of participation. It’s not always obvious to the rest of the organisation if people aren’t engaging in your Digital Workplace. They don’t have access to reporting on how many pages have been visited, by whom or when. If you have a social enterprise channel, however, it’s painfully obvious if no-one is posting, liking or commenting. And it’s a vicious cycle: the fewer people who post, the fewer want to post. No-one wants to put themselves out there to be met with silence. Very quickly it’s all over and your whole social investment is at risk.

Some strategies for an engaging, vibrant ESN are:

Start with a big party room

The parties that work well tend to keep people centred in a single space, at least until everyone has arrived and there’s a decent atmosphere going. Then people can move to another room or out into the garden without affecting the ambience. If you start off spread out everywhere, people don’t feel connected and the atmosphere never builds. Similarly, with social enterprise technology, people need to see a steady stream of activity they can join. Start off with a nice, big group with everybody in it, and try to get one big conversation going. As that conversation continues and extends to specific topics, you can create a few other groups.

Follow the leader

Executive Support is crucial for Social Enterprise engagement and success. If the CEO or executive team never posts on the social channel, it’s a strong signal that no-one else should take it seriously either. It also sends a message that social technology is only for timewasters. Similarly, it’s important to get key people to commit to championing the social channel by frequently engaging and posting as well as encouraging others to post.

Juicy topics

People are more likely to join conversations that are topical and that they’re already interested in. This might include an upcoming industry change, a new competitor or a new threat or opportunity in the form of emerging technologies. If you’re aware of these kinds of topics, start a social conversation about them and assign hashtags to them.

Problem solving and idea generation

If you don’t already have an idea-generating or problem-solving tool on your Digital Workplace, start a conversation in your social channel. For example, ask for feedback on a new product or for ideas about how to market to a new sector. Embrace the ideas your people offer and share any wins from social enterprise interaction.

Plan for success

  1. Understand the purpose behind implementing social enterprise in your organisation. What are the main drivers? How will it align with the strategic vision?
  2. List the expected benefits and ensure you can quantify and measure at least some of them, e.g. ‘Increase sales amongst existing clients by 5% within 12 months’.
  3. Set goals for user adoption statistics including number of likes, percentage of staff to engage in a community etc
  4. Plan at least 10 campaigns that create engagement to run in a 12-month period
  5. Document how the CEO and senior executives will engage people through this channel such as number of posts, policy on replies to comments and some pre-approved messages in case they can’t get to it.


With appropriate planning and support, social technology can provide a host of benefits that move your organisation on to bigger and better things.

Social is just one of the 9 Pillars or Digital Workplace Success featured in my new book: Digital Transformation from the Inside Out.  Click here for your free 3-chapter extract:  https://webvine.com.au/book/ or use Discount code: ‘Collab365’ for 20% off.

Review the other posts in this exclusive community series:

Pillar 9: User adoption
Pillar 8: Governance
Pillar 7: Social Technology Strategy (this post)
Pillar 6: Document Management
Pillar 5: Search
Pillar 4: Usability and Design
Pillar 3: Information Architecture
Pillar 2: The Right Team
Pillar 1: Executive Support

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About the author 

Marcus Dervin

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