Success in Social Media: Lessons from Enterprise 2.0
Success in Social Media: Lessons from Enterprise 2.0

Success in Social Media: Lessons from Enterprise 2.0

Connecting People to People Not to Technology

It's all about people - or that was the message from the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference held in San Francisco.

Remedy had a strong presence at the conference, supporting a significant technology launch by Linden Lab. The experience of hosting a 'mixed reality event' is probably the subject of a future post - but we managed to extend the reach from a few hundred people on-site (and lined up in the hallways!) to several thousand on-line.

While the conference was focused on how to bring social media tools inside the enterprise, there were broader lessons that could apply to stakeholder or customer programs, and insights into what tools and approaches make sense when thinking about the trend towards, well, being more social, more connected, and working in real time rather than 'just in time'.

Companies like IBM, Adobe and Microsoft were pitching large systems to help organizations connect people internally, bringing the often chaotic features of the 'social Web' and making them acceptable for large, global companies. Imagine an internal Facebook or a corporate Wikipedia and you're on the right track.

By bringing 'social media' inside the corporate walls, it's encouraging to think that large companies will start to experience first hand the connective power and immediacy of technologies typically thought of as purely social, what with their Facebook pokes and random tweets.

But there's a long way to go before social media itself, or social media within the enterprise, can find the sweet spot between immediacy and measured thinking, between rapid-response and process. If you've spent any time tending to your Facebook profile you know: these things take time, and people do it because they love it and it helps them to stay connected, but extrapolate that to your day at work and you can be spending more time keeping your profile up-to-date and less time doing, well, actual work.

One of the best presentations I attended was by IDEO, who presented five lessons learned from their own efforts at creating internal social networks, and it struck me that the same rules would probably apply to any on-line community:

1. Build Pointers to People

Which is what Facebook is all about, really - being able to find friends, old friends, and letting them find you (although not all of us want to reconnect with the person we went to nursery school with, but you can always decline the friendship offer, I suppose). The IDEO system helped internal staff to find each other, through easy-to-maintain profiles, quick summaries (including a cool "Me in Three" feature), internal blogs, schedules and other widgets.

2. Reward Individual Participation

If it requires altruism or compliance it won't work. Needs individual motivation. For example, recognition, project staffing and career development were all built into their internal systems.

3. Demand Intuitive Interfaces

Which is easy to say, but not always so easy to do - rapid prototyping and getting lots of user feedback are key to successful design.

4. Take the Road More Traveled

Build systems that recognize current processes. For example, instead of having people 'blog', have them send updates via e-mail which are then posted to the blog. Since everyone uses e-mail, integrating the social media components with e-mail updates, digests, the ability to post, etc. increases participation.

IDEO also took the system to where the people are - putting screens in meeting areas, setting up kiosks and having displays and posters throughout the organization.

5 Iterate Early and Often

IDEO publishes a new version of their site every week. This might not be feasible for everyone, but it speaks to the approach of doing a lot of small updates, frequently.

But critical in all of this was how IDEO thought of using social media in the enterprise....something which should be a guiding principle for any 'Web 2.0' initiative: it's not about people connecting to computers, but about people connecting with each other. And sometimes, you don't need a computer at all - the good old fashioned bulletin board above the coffee machine can be far more effective than the most complicated technology around.

Which is a lesson we can all take home.


doug thompson
Success in Social Media: Lessons from Enterprise 2.0

doug thompson

Doug Thompson is CEO of Remedy which he founded a decade or so ago with a couple of old laptops and one of those fax machines with curling paper. Doug keeps a pulse on innovation and on maintaining the team-based culture that has allowed Remedy to grow from that modest start.