4 Essential
Steps to
Social
Network
Critical Mass
By The Social Business Council
with Sandy Adam, Vishal Agnihotri, Stepha...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

4 Essential Steps
to Hit Critical Mass
Before a user ...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

Be Quick to Display Value
In order for a user to inve...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

Allay Fears
Moving to a transparent workplace is inti...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

Onboarding
Adding an enterprise social network to the...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

Measure What Matters
Are users receiving value from y...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

Conclusion
One of the reasons creating an internal so...
4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013

About the Authors
Sandy Adam, Social Media Marketing ...
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4 Essential Steps to Reach Social Community Critical Mass

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By The Social Business Council
with Sandy Adam, Vishal Agnihotri, Stephane Aknin, Chris Dittrick, Patrick O’Brien, Dennis Pearce, Sharon Lina Pearce, and Simon Vaughan
Published October 22, 2013

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4 Essential Steps to Reach Social Community Critical Mass

  1. 1. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass By The Social Business Council with Sandy Adam, Vishal Agnihotri, Stephane Aknin, Chris Dittrick, Patrick O’Brien, Dennis Pearce, Sharon Lina Pearce, and Simon Vaughan Published October 2, 2013
  2. 2. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 4 Essential Steps to Hit Critical Mass Before a user invests time and energy into a social platform, they have to know they will receive value in return. The conundrum that every social business professional faces is that the greatest value is only realized when there is a critical mass of individuals on the platform. So how does one grow from nothing and hit this critical mass? This white paper explains how. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview on how to create a critical mass of users on an enterprise social network. The topics covered in this paper are: • How to quickly display value • How to allay user fears of participation • How to onboard individuals • What to measure to keep the community growing. 2
  3. 3. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 Be Quick to Display Value In order for a user to invest their energy into a platform, they have to see that there will be a return on their investment. If there is not a clear, short path to value, adoption is constrained. Tips: Showing ROI • “[Show ROI through] success stories and anecdotes: someone who was able to land a big customer, solve a problem, etc. thanks to our content management and collaboration tools.  If you are looking to justify the system prior to implementation, you might turn it around and also look for stories of failure where the organization lost money or time because there was not a system in place.” Start with a thorough exploration. Understanding how a user will benefit from the platform begins with knowing their pain points, workflows, and other motivations to connect with others in the organization and share information. Bringing key stakeholders together for workshops, interviewing employees, and mapping out current workflows are great ways to uncover possibilities for low investment, valuable wins. • “Process improvement: this is where you can get unambiguous ROI if you capture process baseline data prior to implementation and then measure later to look for improvements in speed, quality, etc.  Any processes that depend on having the right information at the right time are good candidates.” Focus on manageable use cases. In the early stages of building out an ESN (Enterprise Social Network) it is a good idea to focus in on two or three manageable use cases that promise a lot of pull from the organization. Success in these initial projects will demonstrate the value of the social program to the rest of the organization. Make sure that these initial use cases are closely aligned with business objectives, as success here will drive home the importance of the initiative to those who are on the fence. • “Employee surveys: asking questions along the lines of "how satisfied are you with the information you have to do your job" can be an indicator of the need for a KM system, and used as a baseline to refer back to after implementation.  Periodically reissue the survey to see how or if things have changed.  I also have occasionally done SNA-type surveys to see how connections between employees are Activities in this early stage should include: 1. Generating user profiles and behavioral models for key user segments changing.” 2. Designing the IA (information architecture) to complete key workflows 3. Developing user journeys (for both present and future states) to inform development 4. Identify quick wins closely tied to business objectives. 3
  4. 4. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 Allay Fears Moving to a transparent workplace is intimidating for many people. Your users will worry about increased scrutiny on their work or making mistakes such as posting discussions in the wrong group. Much of this depends on company culture. If a firm does not have a culture of open collaboration and transparency, then the shift to this new way of working will be quite difficult. Also, if employees are not used to learning from each other and collaborating, then sharing one’s work is a big step. Leadership should set the tone through active participation in the social network. Others will follow their lead. As more people start working transparently, others will join in to participate in what they see as a lively community that has executive sponsorship. Tip: Setting the Tone A clear governance model can remove fears. What “Some of the best posts are a clever mix is allowed to be posted where? What can be shared between professional and personal inside a private group versus open forums? What is perspectives. CEOs can be very good at that, the tone of the community? Is it strictly professional, sharing a piece of their day-to-day, while or is there room for off-topic conversations? opening debate for some business-oriented Establish guidelines that show how to interact topics. It helps people get to know each without breaking rules. People sometimes don’t other, it creates a culture of openness that eventually leads to efficiency in the participate, because they don’t know how. Empower company.” them to become active on the platform by showing them how to participate through simple, clear guidelines. In these guidelines, be explicit about the understanding that there will be honest mistakes, and that they will only serve as a learning opportunity. Identify where the fear lies. Are employees worried about their work being exposed to management? Are they worried about accidentally breaking the rules? This data is essential when encouraging adoption. To overcome some of the fear users may have, the following actions may help: 1. Developing clear guidelines for how the community should be used and will be governed, including clauses around freedom of speech and possible areas of contention such as religion and politics 2. Conducting online surveys to find out what users are afraid of 3. Ensuring leadership is active on the platform and demonstrating the value of conversational/unpolished content contribution 4. Set a tone of trust on the platform. Employees should feel trusted to make the right decisions as to what to share where. They should also feel that it is acceptable to make honest mistakes. 4
  5. 5. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 Onboarding Adding an enterprise social network to the list of communications tools is akin to giving everyone a second e-mail inbox. To many, a new social network just sounds like more work. Insight: The Importance of the Profile “Your personal profile introduces you to your network; the one you already have and the one you are creating.  Your virtual teammates will likely want to look at your pictures.  They can see what you look like, what you and your family like to do on vacation and if you have any pets.  Since they cannot walk by your desk and see your photos and decorations, re-create a bit of your desktop online.” Interactive training. Hold hands on, interactive sessions where employees cover the absolute fundamentals: registration; creating a profile; searching for people and groups; joining a group; starting discussions; and creating, uploading, and referencing documentation. Manage expectations. It can be a long journey to hit critical mass. And even when critical mass is achieved, the community manager’s job doesn’t end; it’s important to keep pushing adoption. One Council member said that, "There may be people who are slow on the adoption curve, yet are the one's with the real ‘golden nuggets’ as far as business value goes. You have to keep pushing education to get to those people." “You will continue to expand your network as you look for and find people who work in a certain department or have a particular expertise.  Describe your expertise in your profile.  If the profile allows for tagging, remember that those tags should reflect much of what your profile describes!  Encourage others to do the same; you need to locate experts too.” Some actions that you might want to take in this stage are: 1. Run hands-on training to get people familiar with the very basics of the social platform. 2. Keep users engaged after training by giving them projects to work on. 3. Continue onboarding even after a critical mass has been reached. Business value may come from unexpected places. Tip: Nurturing Activity “I've found that nurturing our readers and commenting back on their comments helps them get excited about the platform. After a short time they get brave and add their own content, in which case I make sure to comment on their posts. In some cases it gets to be a little bit of a competition. If they see their peers posting, they feel the need to post as well. One strategy I use is to pick a ‘champion’ and enlist them to help me execute the nurturing program.” 5
  6. 6. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 Measure What Matters Are users receiving value from your community? There are some basic rules of thumb that are used by community managers. Tip: Some Other Key Measurements • Members active within the past 30 days. How quickly and thoroughly are questions being answered? Many community managers agree that there should be a 24 hour rule. Each new post should be responded to within a day. Also, it matters who is answering the question. It is nice for the community manager to answer a post, but a user will appreciate it more if someone revered in the community took the time to respond to them. • Increase in active members to increase in registered members. This will tell you how you are doing at on boarding and if people see value in the community. • Most active members. A community manager should pay the most attention to the core members. They are invaluable and will keep the community active even in slow times. Which discussion threads are the most active? For a while, getting conversations going will be a bit of a guessing game. Even though a community manager might know the audience, some topics will resonate with the community, and some will not. One should look at the data to see which threads have the most traction. This way, in the future, the community manager will have a higher “hit” rate. • Activity by group. A community shouldn't be too spread out, because people will miss new discussions and new members. However, it should have enough groups so people can find relevant content. • Speed of replies to discussions. A good rule of thumb is to have all posts replied to within 24 hours. Are there any particular times when activity is highest? Does activity correlated with the date, with new posts, or with newsletters? Once the community manager has an idea for what keeps the community buzzing, he or she will know what to do to keep the community growing towards a critical mass. • Content popularity. Each piece of content can and should be measured. How many people read it, how many responded to it. This will indicate which content items are most popular and should be focused on in the future. This list is far from exhaustive. In fact, the metrics for online communities is a fascinating, deep topic. Richard Millington has a great post* to get someone started. Some actions that you might want to take in this stage are: 1. Work backward. Define the business objectives first, then identify the ways the community will act as a tool or catalyst to reach them. 2. Set up metrics to track if the community is operating like it needs to so business objectives can be reached. 3. Keep an eye on community health metrics. The community is the strategy to achieve the ultimate business metrics. Maintaining a healthy community is vital to any social collaboration initiative. 6
  7. 7. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 Conclusion One of the reasons creating an internal social network is difficult is because the greatest value is unlocked only after a large amount of people are participating. Adoption velocity builds slowly, so it’s important to be patient. With enough persistence, momentum will kick in and the firm will eventually reap the benefits of a network that has reached its critical mass. What is the Social Business Council? The Social Business Council explores the latest topics in social business and social marketing, and provides a place for peers, colleagues, and world-renowned thought leaders to share tips and best practices for the internal and external application of social business. Who is Dachis Group? Dachis Group is a leader in data-driven social marketing solutions. Utilizing a proprietary big data analytics platform, Dachis Group helps marketers master the most valuable brand marketing channel in the world – the real-time social conversations of their customers. 7
  8. 8. 4 Essential Steps to Social Network Critical Mass | October 2, 2013 About the Authors Sandy Adam, Social Media Marketing Manager at ANSYS - Sandy manages the development, deployment, and strategic vision of the global social media marketing strategy for ANSYS, Inc., driving brand awareness and engagement with engineers in finite element analysis, (CFD) computational fluid dynamics, electronics and electromagnetics, and design optimization. Sandy earned her bachelors degree at Alverno College. Vishal Agnihotri, Head of Knowledge, Americas Financial Services with Earnst & Young - Vishal leads the Knowledge group dedicated to the Americas Financial Servies Office, which supports the practice by scanning the market landscape and identifying white space in key global accounts. She catalyzes the successful pursuit of business opportunities, speed to market and overall competitiveness through the use of Collaboration tools and Research and Analysis within the Americas practice of 6,500 professionals. Vishal earned her bachelors degree at The University of Leicester. Stephane leads the business and change management program for the Global Intranet Program. He heads up strategy for the AXA corporate website and is a member of the communication steering community. He specializes in ecommunications, social business, community management, social media, and online video. He graduated with his master's degree in International Trade from The Universite Paris V. Chris Dittrick, Enterprise Collaboration and Social Business Consultant, working with Suncor Energy - Chris is responsible for the implementation of Suncor’s collaboration roadmap. Chris utilizes his deep information technology and consulting experience to facilitate his clients’ social journeys. He works with teams to identify high value use-cases and sees a solution through to technical implementation. Chris received his bachelors degree at The University of Calgary. Patrick O’Brien, Strategist at Dachis Group - Patrick works to develop social media strategies for enterprises using insights derived from Dachis Group’s big data social marketing platform. He also acts as the community manager for the Social Business Council, a Social Business CoP for some of the world’s largest brands. Patrick received his bachelors degree from The University of Texas and his MBA from Southern Methodist University. Dennis Pearce, Enterprise Knowledge Architect with Lexmark - Dennis started as a plastics manufacturing engineer for AMP then IBM. He moved into IBM's , Plastics Technology Center in the 1980s where he developed an interest in artificial intelligence and began working on manufacturing-related expert systems. The AI interest morphed into a KM interest in the 1990s, which prompted him to go back for his PhD that led to his present job. Dennis earned his bachelors degree at Lehigh, his MBA at UNC-Charlotte, and PHD in Decisions Sciences. Sharon Lina Pearce, Social Learning Professional at Alcatel-Lucent - Sharon has worked in collaborative training since the inception of an internal social network at Alcatel-Lucent. Among her responsibilities are creating learning itineraries for Alcatel-Lucent’s new personal learning environment, internal communication and the training department contact for social network and language issues. Lina earned her bachelors degree from The Johns Hopkins University. Simon Vaughan, Social Business Consultant at Outside in Collaboration - Simon is an evangelist for the adoption of Social Business, He has recently established a consultancy practice to help organizations adopt Social Business. For two consecutive years, he was announced as one of 50 Global IBM Collaboration Champions. Simon graduated from the University of Wales, Swansea. 8

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