Arment Dietrich

Enterprise 2.0 Meets the LOLCats

By: Arment Dietrich | December 5, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is by Allen Mireles

Recently I posted about the explosion of growth we’re seeing in social networks.

And how those of us who’ve learned to use the social web are called on to be patient–with the scores of people still trying to figure it all out.

Even when they’re being annoying because they don’t know any better.

I was thinking of the familiar usages of the social web.

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube.

I hadn’t given much thought to challenges faced by corporations and organizations as they develop internal social strategies and tools to help achieve business objectives.

Then a friend tweeted me about my post and pointed out the similarity between what I described and what he had experienced as a consultant: Working in Enterprise 2.0 settings with boatloads of newbies struggling to get the hang of the internal social systems they were supposed to be using.

E2.0 (or Enterprise 2.0), and its attendant software, represents a market predicted by Forrester to hit more than six billion by 2016.

Internal integration of social tools is becoming more and more common, according to Pehong Chen in a 2011 Forbes post, as “…having an enterprise social network is no longer a fascination of early adopters. It is now an essential component of the enterprise.”

The Engaged Enterprise

The promise of E2.0 is the ability for organizations to crowdsource ideas from within and collaborate easily, by interconnecting teams and building on shared knowledge. The potential is to be able to connect across geographic boundaries, to tear down silos between departments, and to make information easily available throughout the organization.

The reality of E2.0 is turning out to be somewhat less glorious. According to a study done by the Social Business Council and released as the “Current State of Social Engagement Inside the Large Enterprise,” the challenge with introducing social collaboration software is not limited to the new technology itself, but rather with introducing new modes of behavior for corporate employees.

People are not always interested in learning new practices, or if they are, they may feel tentative in their initial forays into a new platform or the use of new tools. So the resistance can be huge and the challenge is, in large part, in convincing the non-enthusiasts to try, and keep trying. And then in dealing kindly and patiently with them as they learn. (See what I did there? Tied it back to the earlier post?)

And don’t try to hinder interest in non-business conversations and sharing.

Keep the ‘Social’ in Social Media

Steve Radick, vice president public relations at Cramer-Krasselt, describes it, “Unfortunately, “social” seems to have become almost a dirty word in the workplace, conjuring up images of employees whittling away their time on Facebook, talking to their boyfriend on the phone, or taking a three hour lunch break.”

Let’s all agree now to stop trying to take the social out of social media. “Social” interactions not only need to be okay, they need to be encouraged and rewarded.

Radik posits that for the unenthused, a more comfortable way to present the value of learning to use social is to present it as a safe way to learn social media and social networking. He recommends the unenthusiastic and the newbies practice on the enterprise internal forums and blogs and wikis and Twitter-wannabe tools to get the hang of a totally new way of communicating, before taking that next, kind of scary, step into the outside.

The benefit to the organization is the training and development of employees who become both capable and comfortable communicating on the social web on behalf to the enterprise. They become engaged – and experienced – in the internal social networks, and eventually take that comfort and knowledge to the external social web.

Leave the LOLCats Alone

Radick says,“If you want to create a vibrant culture of collaboration, you need to be okay with pictures of LOLCats, posts about the NFL playoffs, arguments about Apple and Android, and criticism of company policies.”

Allow people to be social and they may find something they can fall in love with–or at least like and use and become engaged with their fellow employees.

That there are and will continue to be E2.0 enthusiasts is evidenced by the emerging conferences, research papers, and blog posts–as well as the increasing sales of E2.0 software. This is the direction of the future for large organizations.

However it is worthwhile to note the process will take time, patience, and social skills–on everyone’s behalf.

Allen Mireles is vice president at Arment Dietrich and is based outside of Toledo. She has diverse expertise in healthcare IT, manufacturing, and education. You can follow her on Twitter at allenmirelesadd her to your circles on G+, link to her on LinkedIn, or friend her on Facebook.

  • HowieG

    Why did I never know you worked with @ginidietrich ? In 2009 I watched a live presentation on  big brands and social at some big conference (I live streamed)when I was an uuber skeptic on social media for brands to use for marketing. My biggest peeve was facebook I viewed like my living room so Coke stay ojt of my private space. But I was proven wrong in terms of for customer service, bond building with customers, and direct feedback / insights.And I was right. Brands can buy banner type ads to reach you but most of us never want to talk with brands.Unless we needed help or were pissed or even some praise.
    But in 2009 General Mills CMO explained they built their own Facebook style platform so they could do all the focus groups on new products differently. They ran chats about the new product and let the volunteers chat whenever among themselves (GM got to see all this) and they had better results. No big cold rooms around a table people had to drive to.
    And I thought why aren’t all companies with more than a few people setting these up so they are private and why isn’t this being sold heavily (maybe it is gaining traction?) how many companies started Intranets for the same reason? And yes people who feel comfortable with the group will share things like photos, cartoons, or non work stuff. But I don’t think that counters the benefits just have a written user policy.

    • @HowieG  @ginidietrich Not sure how you missed my joining the firm, Howie, but no matter. 😉
      I think the potential for these enterprise social intranets is huge but the reality is that the people using them mirror people in the outside world. The ones who are newbies, or are less than enthusiastic about learning to use new tools, are slow to embrace them and less engaged. As in the outside social web, and in many business settings, leadership can be lacking and the arguments about who owns what deafening.Your comment about having written user policies is a valuable reminder. Might be interesting to see where enterprise use of written social media policy is today–and how many organizations do more than pay lip service to those policies.

    • @HowieG PAY ATTENTION! Jeez.

    • @HowieG  @ginidietrich  @allenmireles    Hell, even I knew about Allen. Try drinking coffee in the morning.

  • sradick

    Thanks including me as part of this post Allen – really enjoyed talking with you about something that I’m really passionate about. There is obviously a ton of opportunity to integrate social media inside of big corporation, but these big orgs have to first understand that this isn’t about another software buildout or systems implementation. It’s something different entirely. And as such, will require new approaches, new processes, and in many cases, a new culture to be successful. 
    For better and worse, using social media successfully behind the corporate firewall requires a deep understanding of people and how people work, not just how some new technology platform works. By default, people don’t feel comfortable sharing their thoughts publicly. They don’t want to share their work so others can comment on it. Especially in an environment where their career could be at stake. That’s why more often than not, these social communities are rolled out behind the firewall and 12 social media evangelists start using it, but everyone else is just a lurker. It requires patience, commitment, and a knowledge of change management to get people to change the way they do things. Because to most people, it’s not just a new tool, it’s a fundamentally new way of working and communicating.

  • Definitely passing this along to the Sharepoint team at work! Oh my goodness, some good advice here. We are transitioning from an older, static intranet site to one based on Sharepoint. This gives all our separate teams / departments their own sites, i.e. we have a Marketing site that has all of our tradeshows, marketing flyers, a social media blog, etc. Other teams do things like team dashboards, etc. It seems to be going well, but a lot of the “unenthused” remain, of course. Great article.

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