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Getting starting with Social Business adoption

Most companies who are starting to embrace (or at least experiment) with Social Business are usually worried about adoption. I am not going to go deep into adoption programs here but would like to share my thoughts on what I have seen worked.

Key Recommendations for your Social Business Adoption Journey

1. Start by being prescriptive

What do I mean by that? Instead of giving user too many options, you can start by setting a “standard’ on how the social platform is going to be used.

for example, tell people what and how to post a status update - Create a “cheat sheet” on what you would recommend a status update should look like and for what use.
some examples are :

This is how you would send a reminder for an deadline:
“The deadline is approaching - don’t forget to submit your material for review before Dec 1”

This is how you would notify the larger team about an article you found:
“I found this really good article online (share link), it really explains how we can go about improving our processes!”

Also start by telling people how to tag stuff and encourage them to do so diligently.

2. Start with very specific use cases for the right audience

Every team might have a different way to use the social business platform - how a marketing team would use it might differ drastically from how an IT team will use it. The key is to make it relevant and that the users find value in using the platform.

Example: for a IT help desk that is always looking up information and correcting errors they find in documentation, a wiki might be a very good place to start. For a auditor, activities might be perfect way for them to organise communication and documents for audit reviews.

Be sure to validate the use vase and then design a process and be more prescriptive about how it is to be use (at least in the early stages of adoption)

3. Leaders need to lead by example

So many times I hear that people are not using any of the social tools in an organisation “because my boss does not use it himself/herself”. Leaders need to be aware that people look to them as examples or use them as “excuse”. all good change management (including social business transformation) requires a very visible change from the top.

4. Do not forget that this is change management

Many people have a “build it and they will come” approach to introducing social business. This is a very dangerous practice. more often than not, people will say “user did not need training to use Facebook/twitter/Linkedin, etc”, but social business is NOT the same as public social media - people need to understand why they are using this for collaboration, they need to understand the value, the boundaries of use, and what impact a change will have on the way they work.

Ensure you have adequate people around that can answer questions from end-users, practical training is also necessary to help people navigate through the system and a social business policy needs to be in place and communicates to everyone.

There are many more areas to cover in an adoption program, these are just the top 4 areas that i see in most organisations. If you have any questions on this, feel free to reach out to me for a discussion.


Collaborating using a marketplace concept

Yesterday I had the privilege of running a workshop for some social enterprises and charity organisations. One of the topics we were brainstorming on was a Marketplace to share and collaborate on knowledge.
Being an often resource-poor community, it would be beneficial for these organisation to have a place to collaborate and share ideas and knowledge among themselves.

We had this discussion on how they are already marketplace for physical items such as donated furniture, but nothing for them in terms of knowledge. Examples are sharing templates for writing grant applications, best practices around event organisation, etc.

This is exactly what we meant by Social Business!

Using a lot of the tools and techniques that we practice in our social lives and applying them to a work environment. The concept is very similar to how Linkedin is used as opposed to Facebook.

Let me share an example of one of the use cases I am working on:

Ability to share best practices around organising an event

Imagine being able to share and reuse event templates such that even a novice or volunteer can have a checklist that has been proven successful in a similar organisation. A very simple way to do this would be create activities template that can be shared and reused.


Collectively, all the agencies can pool their experiences to improve the task list and share valuable information to ensure a successful event even with less experienced staff or volunteers.

Consideration for such a “marketplace” to work

While the concept is excellent in theory and pretty straight forward to implement within a single organisation, there are some practical hurdles to overcome for this to work across multiple organisations.

Let me share some of concerns which was produced during the workshop:

  • Confidentiality
  • Relevancy
  • Management
  • Participation
  • Policies/code of conduct for use

I will share some of the ways we can overcome some of these concerns:


Many people are afraid to share their material for fear of leaking any sensitive data. I think there are a two issues to address here:

Are people afraid to share? Is there a culture to reprimand people who share information or perceived to be crossing their job boundaries?

Clear Policies
Are there clear policies to help people determine what they can share? It would be good to have a quick cheat sheet to help do a quick litmus test on the information they want to share.


Will the stuff I share be useful to anyone else? I think this can addressed by trying to brake down the knowledge into smaller sections of data. For example, instead of a large event project plan (which maybe useful to some), parts of it can be extracted and share as smaller plans (catering plan, communication plan, etc)

Also, when someone shares a plan and if another person use it to create a more generalised version, it would be helpful to post the new version up for discussion/sharing, in this way, the entire community can help make the shared knowledge more relevant and useful.

The use of “Likes” and comments can also help float up more useful knowledge during a search, therefore active participation is very important in any collaboration effort.


This is a very important function yet also very delicate -- how much control/moderation you want to place on the community vs. how much open conversation you want to encourage.
Do you want/need to do housekeeping on shared knowledge? The good thing is that as this space matures, a lot of best practices have evolved and many places you can take classes in online community management.


A sharing platform is only as good as its active members. they must be a plan to encourage participation and contribution.

You’ve got to understand the audience, also identify the active contributors and find ways to keep them contributing. There should also be activities to encourage people to interact with comments, likes, discussions, etc. It should be noted the you will never find 100% participation in any community, a good estimate is about 15% active contributors, 65% consumers, and the rest may never participate in sharing.

Tips on how to promote participation should be part of the above mentioned community manager training.

Policies/Code of Conduct

It was interesting to note that many organisation have yet to publish social platform usage policies and guidelines. The good news is, there are many organisations that have and are willing to share their guidelines. A good example is the IBM Social Computing Guidelines that has been created by employees and has been update as technology and culture changes. I highly encourage organisations to have one in place as whether you like it or not, people will use the public social platform to talk/discuss about things from work.

This is just a very brief blog on a small area of social collaboration - feel free to contact me to find out more!


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