Social Enterprise

Six SharePoint experts divulge the secrets of enterprise social success

Find out what social champions, business intelligence, choreography, and more has to do with creating an effective social media implementation.

With Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer and its subsequent integration roadmap with SharePoint, questions remain as to how best move forward with your enterprise social strategy. 

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In part two of this exploration of the social enterprise, I asked leading members of the SharePoint community to weigh in on what organizations can do to ensure social endeavors are a success, regardless of which social tools you use. All of the experts are among the Top 25 Online SharePoint Influencers, a list created by platform-independent social software provider and my client harmon.ie. Experts include Sean Bordner, CEO at SharePoint AMS; Christian Buckley, Director at Axceler; Liam Cleary, Senior Manager at Protiviti; Jeremy Thake, Chief Architect at AvePoint; Todd Klindt, SharePoint consultant at Rackspace; and Wilco Turnhout, Owner of Rapid Circle. Here are their road-tested tips to successfully implement social in the enterprise.

1: Strategize, strategize, strategize

"The interesting thing about a social enterprise is that organizations have the ability to ensure it's a success. The ingredients are simple, yet are often overlooked. The strategy needs to answer some important questions: Who are your audience participants? What's in this 'social enterprise' that is important to them that cannot be found elsewhere? This is the place where they ___(fill in the blank). What's in it for them (staff, vendors, customers, etc.)? What's in it for your organization?" (Sean Bordner)

2: One size does not fit all

"While some social capabilities should be available across the enterprise, you should work with different teams and business units to understand their specific needs. Some teams may need something light weight and ad hoc, others may need something comprehensive." (Christian Buckley)

3: Blur social elements with collaboration

"Too often [social] has been seen as a separate component completely when [in fact] it works best when it is mingled with collaboration. Combining the two creates a *need* to use social as more than just a status updating mechanism." (Liam Cleary)

4: Use your data

"Customers are dipping their toes into the business intelligence (BI) pond and seeing how they can make the most of it. Some are doing it well, some are not. Almost all are realizing that their data needs to be cleaned up and reorganized for SharePoint's BI to really make good use of it." (Todd Klindt)

5: Tools are important, but it's people-power that really drives social  

"Simple, friendly, and mobile tools are prerequisite for the social enterprise... They also need to glue various features, content, and people together. But most important, a company needs to believe in it, senior management needs to live it, and people need to learn it." (Wilco Turnhout)

"'Social' is not just Newsfeeds and microblogging with mentions and hashtags 'Twitter style'.  'Social' in SharePoint is about Communities, Blogs, Wikis, User Profiles, SkyDrive Pro, and much more. I think every organization will have a different secret sauce due to different factors such as their culture and technology in place. The most common [success] factor I am seeing that leads to a rise in use of social is to identify champions and let them spread the good word to the workforce. If you can get a few people in each office doing this, and demonstrating value in their day-to-day responsibilities…others will join." (Jeremy Thake)

6: Build an exciting community experience

"Choreograph the launch of your social enterprise. Socialize the idea with your staff prior to launch. Your users should be excited about the launch date. Send out teaser emails leading up to the launch. Send out announcements such as '4 Days till Launch!' or 'See you soon online!'

Within the community Site itself, things need to be happening! Content must be created daily. Your community needs to be the place for discussions and where new presentations are first posted. It should not just be a place to get data. 

Utilize staff talent at your organization by identifying what they're passionate about and encouraging them to express this passion in the community. Passion is the difference between another boring tool and an exciting and provocative experience!

Your organization's active participation is vital to the success of the social enterprise. You wouldn't invite people to your home for a party and not show up yourself, would you? A good host is always present. The active involvement of the staff needs to initially be higher, but can taper down as active community leaders step to the forefront. This too should be planned, encouraged, and accounted for in your strategic social enterprise strategy." (Sean Bordner)

Part three

In the third and final installment, I'll speak to the experts about the importance of mobile in an enterprise social strategy and why and how every business should prepare for it.

Jenna Dobkin is a results-oriented advocacy and influencer engagement professional with a passion for helping businesses grow sales, build brands, and enhance community relationships, online and off. Over the past 10 years, she has worked extensively in the Microsoft developer and SharePoint communities. Clients include Visa International, McDonalds, Starbucks, Mainsoft, and harmon.ie. Jenna is also a nerd. She graduated top of her class from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business.

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