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9 Posts authored by: Elysha Ames

In Part Six of the Series on Social Business Strategy, I'll discuss the need to think optimistically by planning for adoption and growth of your social business.


Adoption and growth of social business

There’s a funny thing about in-house product launches - you spend an awful lot of time planning for “what if's”. What if people don’t participate? What if people say the wrong things? What if people hate it and never come back?


You might get so caught up in planning contingencies that you miss the most exciting “what if” of them all - what if people love it? What happens when you get more participation than you expected? What do you do when people ask for more?

Factor Success into Your Social Business Plan


We’ve seen a lot more winners than failures when it comes to social business launches. That’s why we think it is just as important to plan for the second phase of your launch as it is to plan for the first. Once you’ve had your initial adoption and growth of social business, you have a small window to capture the enthusiasm of your workforce.


Next Step - Go a Little Deeper


If you are following the “start small” strategy then your next step is to go a little deeper. If you started with a single department pilot program, now is the time to bring another department onboard. Or, if you started with a widespread “fun and breezy” conversation, now is the time to take the conversation to the next level. To get the best value from a social intranet, every part of the business must eventually be able to join the conversation. Instead of being seen as just another channel for communication, social becomes part of the culture. Social is where documents are accessed. Social is how real work gets done.


Take One Step at a Time for Manageable Results


Adoption and growth of social business

Don’t feel that you have to open up the firehose and get your entire business library integrated into the social intranet overnight. Let your employees guide you by identifying the types of things they need for the daily work.


Be sure to include management and team leaders when you do your planning to ensure that you have their buy-in along the way. Managers may need to see evidence that the program is generating value for other teams before they feel comfortable letting their employees engage in social activities during company time. As you bring more people into the system plan on having more meta-conversations, conversations about conversations. Invite teams to share openly, critique freely and suggest alternatives. Once this kind of dialog becomes spontaneous you know that you are achieving success.


Identify Key Performance Indicators


When a business becomes social it is easier for managers and senior business leaders to keep their fingers on the pulse of the organization. Activities can be quantified because they have data and metrics attached to them. Information is more accessible and less likely to be trapped in a data silo because now it is visible across the company. When you launch your social business you are at the beginning of a process that will drive engagement, productivity and profit. While much of the benefit of a social business platform comes from emergent behavior - social activities you couldn’t foresee and plan for - you do need a strategy to get the ball rolling.



Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide you in building and implementing your strategy.

In Part V of the Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I will discuss the importance of filling your intranet with meaningful and relevant content that will attract people.


User generated content drives social communities. It's the life blood of the community and what keeps people coming back to participate in the discussion. Employees will catch on quickly to the value of your social intranet as soon as they see interesting topics and valuable information. They will be more likely to return if they can see clearly that the information and conversations are timely and relevant.


Depending on the scope and structure of your conversation channel this may mean “priming the pump” and loading content up front. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, ranging from repurposing existing content to bringing in contractors to help you create content appropriate to your organization.


Help People Share Knowledge by Identifying “Digital Sherpas”


User generated content

One of the key benefits of the social enterprise is the ability to take tacit knowledge - the skills and understanding of a single individual - and transform it into explicit knowledge that is available to anyone in the organization. Conversations about processes and procedures become part of the record. Meta-conversations, discussions about discussions, can help participants find the information they are looking for.


In the same way that early explorers reached their destinations through the help of knowledgeable local guides, look for people who can be the “Digital Sherpas” inside your organization.


Content creation can be done by a small team of enthusiastic experts — draw from your top communicators, subject matter experts and most personable leaders. At this point you are looking for “evangelists” who will talk-up the initiative. It’s not crucial to build an encyclopedic knowledge base in the pilot stage, just get enough substance into the first conversations to make the environment intriguing, comprehensible and useful to the next groups to come on board.


As your social intranet matures the community of participants will begin generating its own content. This might make some communications professionals a little nervous at first but editors soon warm up to the idea that knowledge and productivity are more important than perfect grammar. Before you know it your communications team will be free to be more strategic about how content is used within the organization.



Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide you in building and implementing your strategy.

In Part IV of the Six-Part Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I discuss the importance of having a clear vision of what success means and how to measure it.


In order for your social business launch to be successful, you need to have a clear picture of what success means. In the beginning stages success can be measured by participation. As your community matures look for other ways to measure success - the number of topics covered, reductions in the numbers of meetings, reductions in email usage.


The Importance of “Small Victories”


Small victories

Early in the game it’s important to have a number of “small wins” to build enthusiasm and help your team see the value of the program. These early success stories are essential for helping senior leadership see the value of social initiatives.


Social growth is an important key performance indicator for social intranets. Are your initiatives helping people move from passive consumption to participation? Are you encouraging participants to become contributors and social intranet evangelists?


It’s important to make it clear to employees what success means. Most people are hesitant to dive into online conversations, especially in the workplace where they are concerned about saying the wrong thing. Give them “low hanging fruit” so that they can engage in a safe, fun way.


Ranking and Liking - Easy Ways to Get Involved


In one organization readers were invited to “get their toes wet” by simply ranking online content. People who participated by clicking stars were thanked for the contribution. In a short period of time participants began to feel comfortable enough to initiate conversations around the articles they ranked.


Scheduling “just for fun” topics is a good way to provide a low barrier for entry and helping employees get over their hesitations about contributing. “Tell us about your best customer experience,” or “who is your workplace mentor?” are easy ways to help employees move from readers to participants to contributors.


It’s OK to Feel a Little Weird


Meaningful online conversations

In the roll-out phase interactions may sometimes feel forced, awkward or inconsequential. There needs to be an attitude of exploration and permission to try new things. The product sponsor and implementation leaders should touch base regularly with key participants to discover what is working and where improvements can be made.


Social business is dynamic. It grows and changes as participants find new ways to create value with the system. Your vision for success needs to be flexible and will change over time.



Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide you in building and implementing your strategy.

In Part III of the Six-Part Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I discuss the importance of shifting the focus away from features and onto meaningful human interactions that drive adoption.


drive conversation

The goal of any social business strategy is, of course, business. You want to drive productivity by improving employee engagement. You want to convert tacit knowledge - the “know-how” that’s tucked away inside your star performers’ heads - into explicit knowledge that can be shared between workgroups. Finally, you want to reduce time spent in meetings or combing through email inboxes.


The secret to getting business up and running on social software is to make the environment “people-friendly.” Like a good dinner party where people come for the prime rib and stay for the conversation, people will be drawn to your social intranet by the kinds of interactions they can have with other people in the organization. Feature bells and whistles don’t draw people - people draw people. Your social programs and campaigns - and not the software - will be your best path to rapid adoption and growth.

“Bells and Whistles” Are Nice But It’s People Who Attract People


Don’t rely on platform features to drive conversation. As with the dinner party mentioned above, it takes a good host to get conversation rolling. Once people are part of the conversation they will start to discover the system features that make the experience more dynamic and effective.


Tap your early adopters from your initial launch or test projects for the roles of Community Manager or Intranet Evangelist. Keep an eye out for Subject Matter Experts who can drive specific conversations on areas of interest across the company. Encourage your hosts/evangelists/experts to reach out to the people on their own teams to join the conversation.


Quantify Interactions


quantify interactions

Be sure to take the time to study the kinds of interactions taking place on your social intranet, especially in the early stages. Who are the conversation leaders? How many people start new topics compared to the number of people participating in existing topics? Senior leadership is most interesting in this type of information and reinforces their buy-in. Reporting also provides important insights for fine tuning your strategy and informs your next moves.


As you move toward the next stages of your social business initiative meet with your conversation leaders and brainstorm ways that you can steer the conversation toward specific business concerns. This way your roll-out will be more natural and more likely to address the real business needs of employees.



Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide you in building and implementing your strategy.

In Part II of the Six-Part Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I discuss the need for starting small when attempting to get massive participation across your organization in your internal community.


Success with social business depends on getting widespread participation throughout your organization. There’s a paradox here - go for a big rollout and you could wind up with lackluster participation. Employees see that topics are sparse and conversations taper off before anything of value is delivered. Before you know it your social platform is a ghost town.


Starting small on the other hand gives you the option of delivering quality from the beginning. It’s much easier to draw people into conversations that are relevant and offer value. When you launch your social business on a small scale you have a better chance for managing the results.

Approach 1: Go Deep to Get Quality Conversations


conversation evangelists

One strategy for driving social adoption is to start small with a few conversations among people who are already engaged and eager to build your social intranet. This team will become your “conversation evangelists” as you roll out the platform to a wider audience.


Starting small lets your team establish “social norms” and conversation etiquette from the start. The good news here is that with robust moderation and proper guidelines conversational communities typically do an excellent job of self-policing. Your pilot team will be carving the first grooves that will direct the stream of conversation later on.


If there are compliance or liability issues in your company you can start working out best practices with your pilot team. Decide early on how to moderate topics while at the same time keeping conversation open and transparent.


Make sure that when you launch your social business strategy includes growth and maintenance phases. While a conversational community can be self-organizing it isn’t necessarily self-maintaining. Having a “conversational architect” involved in the later stages can help ensure that social interactions remain fresh, lively and focused on business goals at every stage.


Approach 2: Go Shallow for Widespread Engagement


shallow engagementAnother way to go small is to make your first company-wide conversations simple, light-hearted and fun. Don’t try to offer any deep knowledge management or inter-departmental collaboration at this point. Challenge employees to compete against senior leadership in a fitness challenge, a blood drive or contributions to a local charity.


Getting a lot of employees to contribute in a small way is a great way to generate enthusiasm. Keep an eye open for employees who naturally get involved and bring others into the conversation. These may be good recruits for “social business evangelists” with your next initiatives.


The key to success in social business is to have successful, engaging conversations early in the launch. Demonstrate value and get buy-in from employees. Then build on your success to move your strategy forward.



Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide in building and implementing your strategy.

In part one of the six-part series on social business strategy, I discuss the importance of getting senior leadership buy-in early in the process.

There’s a grim number that haunts executives, directors and managers - 70% of business change initiatives fail. That’s an alarmingly high rate of failure but it’s a number that keeps showing up in research spanning the last 20 years. And the main reason for this failure seems to be that strategies haven’t been completely thought-through or don’t have the support they need. According to Forbes Insights, one out of five of these failures can be tied to lack of commitment from key stakeholders.

How much support do you need for your social business initiative? According to change management expert John Kotter, three out of four senior leaders need to be convinced that change is necessary before a major cultural transformation can succeed.


Step 1: Getting Support for Your Social Business

The first step is getting your senior leadership to recognize that there’s a problem. It shouldn’t take too long to come up with a list of pain points related to the way people interact inside your organization. Are people spending too much time in meetings or slogging through email? Are your turnover stats too high and your employee engagement numbers too low? These pain points are all signs that a major cultural makeover could improve the way you do business.


The important thing to understand at this point is that you don’t need 100% buy-in from senior leadership at the start. But they do need to acknowledge that change is necessary and that there’s a sense of urgency.


Several ways to communicate this urgency are:


1. Demonstrate need - staying with the status quo comes with too high a cost


2. Show how the initiative meets business goals


3. Present your solution with several options so that the team can weigh-in and take ownership


4. Be prepared with all of the facts including costs and timetables


5. Show examples of other organizations that have been successful


6. Get a commitment from key leaders to participate in conversation channels after launch

shutterstock_280025582.jpgStep 2: Recruit a Corporate Sponsor for Your Social Business


If one of your goals is to create transformational change you will definitely need someone from upper management in your corner flexing muscle and smoothing the road. Even if your roll-out is more modest, such as upgrading an intranet portal, it is important to have someone in upper management to act as the business owner and person who is ultimately accountable for the project.


Sponsorship within the organization is especially important for social business initiatives because the work will cross organizational boundaries and you’ll need someone who can smooth over turf issues and reassure people who are suspicious about change.



Step 3: Once You Have Buy In, Make Sure You Keep It


It’s crucial to keep your stakeholders informed at every milestone. Look for ways to make social business the hero of your story as you proceed. Did you collaborate online as you developed your strategy? Highlight the number of meeting-hours you saved or the number of email conversations that were avoided. Provide leadership with access to your conversations so that they can understand the value of transparency and searchability.


When your leadership can see that there is a problem and that you have the tools to fix it, you can be assured that you’ve got a solid way forward to launch your social business.


Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide in building and implementing your strategy.

When RBC launched the Blue Water Project in 2007, there was a small but significant online social engagement component. Employees would gather online at the “Blue Water Cooler” and discuss the importance of preserving freshwater resources. It started as a way to educate and inform employees about the bank’s commitment to preserving freshwater. It turned into a thriving community of people eager to roll up their sleeves and build something new in their real world neighborhoods.

RBC Blue Water Project.png

The Shift from Community of Interest to Community of Practice

There’s a growing debate over whether or not online participation has the same impact as offline participation. Proponents of “clicktivism” argue that the simple act of “liking” or “favoriting” a page or blog post supporting an important cause can have ripple effects that create change. Clicking a button online is a simple, non-threatening way to make a statement. On the other hand, opponents argue, these online communities of interest create a culture of passive rubber-necking. People walk away with the feeling that they’ve done something substantial when in fact they’ve done nothing more than skim through an article and click a link.


RBC discovered early on that there is a cure for passive “slacktivism” that critics say the internet is breeding - simply ask people to get involved. The bank started with a few easy asks of its employees. Would they mind giving up part of their lunch hours to put on a blue t-shirt and participate in creating a “human wave” to help publicize the Blue Water Project?


The answer was a resounding “yes.” Not only did employees want to spread the word about the importance of preserving freshwater, they wanted to get involved. RBC’s Blue Water Cooler became an online clearinghouse where employees could share their enthusiasm for the initiative and ask how they could do more.


When RBC decided to go beyond providing monetary support to effective water preservation projects their employees were with them every step of the way. Blue Water Project “Blue Water Makeovers” were highly local projects that could be accomplished in a day or two and would provide lasting results.

Creating a Command Center for Employee Participation


RBC asked TemboSocial to help create “Makeover Central”, an online space where participants could organize, follow and get involved with Blue Water makeovers. Online participation was matched by an equally impressive offline wave of support - close to 24,000 RBC employees have gotten their hands dirty by participating in a Blue Water Community Makeover.

Employees Are Eager to Get Involved. Give Them a Platform


What RBC discovered is that employees were eager to put in the extra discretionary effort in their communities - but also on the job. They also discovered that social business tools are a fantastic way to spread the word, plan, prepare and organize an event. And when the project is complete, a social business platform is an excellent way to celebrate the results.


Check out the RBC Blue Water Project Tracker to see how RBC is making a difference in your community.


If you’d like to know more about how RBC makes use of social media to support business initiatives, download the case study How RBC created a global Blue Water Day community.

Give a chicken a kernel of corn and it will play the piano. That was the premise of an old carnival game - where a trained chicken pecks on toy piano keys after a coin is dropped in the slot. The trick works pretty well but you can’t say that the chicken is engaged in the performance. The bird will not continue practicing its scales once the anticipated reward has been delivered.

People can also be trained to respond to a system of rewards. Bonuses, cash prizes, extra vacation days can all be used to get employees to grind out a few extra hours each week. But like the chicken, as soon as the prize has been delivered people will stop performing.

Non monetary recognition, on the other hand, does not affect employee behavior the same way that monetary rewards do. Here are five reasons why:


1. Recognition Brings Status

Recognition, when it’s done well, is public. You can praise an employee on the front page of the corporate intranet. This can help elevate an employee’s status among her peers. Cash rewards, on the other hand, need to be kept private. There’s a strong taboo about discussing pay scales in the workplace, meaning that you can’t post an employee’s bonus payments in public. Yes an employee with a fat bonus can put a payment down on a new Lexus, but that brings us to point #2.





2. Recognition is Guilt-Free

Monetary rewards feel good for a moment. But once the money is in the bank many employees become conflicted. Is the money still a reward for good work? Or does it really need to go to roof repairs, paying down a credit card or get tucked away for the kids’ college funds?

Recognition, on the other hand, can be enjoyed by employees with no strings attached. It goes straight into their emotional expense accounts and doesn’t have to be used to repay past debts.


3. Recognition Goes Above and Beyond


Cash is expected. It is part of the contract you make when you hire an employee. If you offer bonuses for performance, those also become expected. It’s just part of the salary package. Something that you owe your employees.

Recognition, on the other hand, can be perceived as a gift, something that you give an employee for significant reasons beyond just showing up and clocking in.





Recognition Creates Meaning




Doing meaningful work is deeply important to most people. Cash payouts don’t create meaning. In fact if an employee gets a bonus when he knows he only contributed 50% of his best effort it can make the workplace feel capricious. “They don’t know what they’re doing here - and look how much they pay me to do it!”

Recognition, on the other hand, is all about meaning. It says “I saw how much work you put into the Jones account, and that means a lot to me.”



5. Recognition is Human



People don’t want to spend their whole lives cranking widgets, even if that’s their job. They want to be part of a bigger social enterprise. When you recognize their contributions, when you thank Sally for her 99.9% widget success rate, you are building a personal connection with an employee. She is now a vital part of your team and your tribe.

Cash, on the other hand, can be dehumanizing. Just like the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry gave Elaine a stack of bills for her birthday, cash can leave employees feeling used. It can leave a lingering sense of “sure, they pay me. But they don’t really know me.”




When it’s working as it should, recognition transforms your company’s culture. People bond to each other, and watch each other’s backs. They get engaged and look for new ways to contribute.

Introduction by Libby Taylor: Jive has rich partnerships with many amazing companies, two of which are featured in this blog post. I invite our customers to explore the expertise and technologies that our partners offer in order to reach the full potential of their communities. My thanks for Jen and Elysha for presenting this information today.


As an internal community manager, you are charged with the task of driving employees into Jive to connect, communicate and collaborate. The power of a social community rests upon its members wanting to spend time there and return frequently, which requires user-generated content that people find interesting and useful. If this is happening in the confines of an enterprise community, that content also needs to be relevant to the business. Expecting a community manager alone to fuel that community can be a big ask, which is why jencallahan of Social Edge Consulting and Elysha Ames of [ARCHIVE] TemboSocial came together to share our thoughts about peer recognition in Jive as a powerful tool for driving an active and productive community.




Here are the top 5 reasons why integrating your employee recognition program with your Jive community is so powerful:

  1. By leveraging your Jive Community for recognition, you are giving employees another reason to go there. And while they are there, they will likely spend time exploring the community and engaging with other content
  2. Employee recognition populates your community with interesting and engaging content as managers recognize their teams and employees applaud each other
  3. Making recognition visible to everyone surfaces the values and repeatable behaviors your organization wants employees to emulate
  4. Community availability of recognition allows  success stories to be visible, browseable and searchable across the organization
  5. Rising stars in the organization are more identifiable based on the recognition they are giving and receiving



Jive’s partners understand the truth of the matter. With a leading social recognition program that integrates with Jive’s architecture, TemboSocial knows having a static intranet isn’t enough. A useful enterprise community is one with user-generated content that helps employees do their jobs better. Employees that spend time in Jive get a better understanding of what’s happening in the company, and learn from their colleague’s behaviors that drive success. The community become a place where employees want to spend time and adds value to the business by reducing inefficiencies and increasing productivity, knowledge-sharing and innovation. That’s a true social enterprise.






This is why expert consultants, such as those from Jive partner Social Edge, work with community managers and advocates to move Jive Communities from static document repositories to dynamic social environments; it takes an army of employee ambassadors to fuel a social community. Community managers and advocates work hard to ensure that the community is a primary destination in employees’ day and that it is a personal, social, and useful experience.








What’s your strategy for building an army of advocates?


For more information on developing a successful advocate strategy, consider contacting a Jive partner today and check out Social Edge’s latest blog post on recruiting advocates.

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