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Ten definitive strategies for Enterprise Social Networking success


Champions, incentives and familiar tools are key, says NewsGator

DENVER — Are you thinking of deploying something like Facebook as a business tool in your enterprise? Many companies are: Enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will surge over the next five years to reach $4.6 billion globally, predicts Forrester Research. The following strategies will help ensure your initiative flourishes, says social computing company NewsGator in a white paper authored earlier this year.

1. Define acceptable use. Although the purpose of enterprise social networking is improving business performance, enjoyment is part of the calculus. How much “fun” is acceptable? Will non-work content be emphasized or discouraged? Set expectations in a few sentences and let everyone know up front.

2. Find a champion. The champion provides the push at the beginning of the project and discovers advocates who can establish momentum.

3. Select initial users. Going enterprise-wide from the gun usually doesn’t work for companies of more than a few thousand users. The ideal starting group contains plenty of workers who already share information. Consider younger workers, since millennials tend to be more open, willing to share, and familiar with social networking tools.

4. Understand users’ existing processes. Success is likely if you can make your enterprise social computing tools the easiest and most natural way to do the work that is already taking place. A discussion forum, for example, can replace a long and confusing email thread. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology provides a seamless way to share content without clutter, and to ensure your social network stays fresh and relevant.

5. Provide a feedback mechanism. For a social network to evolve, managers need to encourage and incorporate user feedback. When users see their good ideas adopted, they sense ownership and become power users.

6. Incent. In the long term, an effective social computing system is its own reward. Early on, however, employees will respond quickly to public recognition from the champion, scoring mechanisms that spotlight valued contributors, and, if appropriate, monetary compensation.

7. Integrate with current online destinations. Success chances skyrocket if users can participate from the environments where they already spend their time. For example, rather than build a social networking application from scratch, simply layer social computing features like networking, communities, discussions, tagging, social bookmarking and blogging on an existing portal or intranet. [NewsGator Social Sites software, for example, transforms any Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) implementation into a full-featured enterprise social network without altering user habits.]

8. Integrate with current processes. For example, one social networking site automatically builds time-tracking reports based on the user’s activities within the network, eliminating traditional busy work.

9. Provide the right modes of participation. Although some users may dive right into a new technology, some won’t. E-mail can actually be an effective way for some workers to participate if the solution is implemented well. Mobile devices provide essential participation options, too.

10. Design for minimum effort. Every extra click or decision is a chance for the user to quit. Social computing interfaces should make actions as simple and obvious as possible. To settle on the best design, review business goals and focus on the interactions that directly support them.

“Many companies know that enterprise social networking takes collaboration to a new level and fuels innovation, yet they need direction getting started,” said Karyn German, vice president of customer care at NewsGator. “These strategies are working for our customers and can be adapted to any organization for immediate impact.”

For more information on best practices, read NewsGator’s “Social Computing in the Enterprise” white paper.

To learn about best practices on the IT side of social networking, join Burton Group and NewsGator in a free live webinar, “IT Best Practices for Enterprise Social Networking” on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. EST. To register, click here.

About NewsGator Technologies, Inc.
NewsGator Technologies helps enterprises and media companies leverage social computing solutions to deliver real business value. The company’s enterprise social networking and widget services are in use by hundreds of the world’s most recognized brands, including Bank of America, Biogen Idec, CBS, CNN, Discovery, National Geographic, Procter & Gamble and USA Today. NewsGator Social Sites and Enterprise Server give enterprises better ways to collaborate, share content, expand employee knowledge and improve productivity. NewsGator Widget Services enable media and brand companies to better engage their audiences and extend the value of their brands through viral syndication of content. NewsGator also offers free, award-winning RSS aggregators for the Web, desktop, mobile devices and e-mail clients. For more information, visit


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