How to Make Good Use of Social Networking on the Intranet

Research has shown that the majority of companies using intranet software are making good use of its social networking features. The key to productive use is making it user-friendly and simple to navigate for everyone, no matter what their role is.

An increasing number of people use social media as an integral part of their private life. It follows that they will embrace using similar tools in the workplace too. Although it’s mainly younger workers who are most enthusiastic about social networking on intranet software, with careful planning, all employees can be encouraged to make best use of the tools available in their digital workplace.

Collaboration, communication, and content

The key to successful social networking on the intranet is collaboration, open communication, and content generation. This is part of the standard “toolkit” that users expect from using a mobile phone or computer.

If your company isn’t 100% familiar with the emerging technologies and how they can be adapted to suit your corporate needs, it’s time to get things moving. The digital workplace and social software are not trends that you can ignore. The technology is vital to how people communicate, both with work colleagues and with other businesses. If you’re not using it to its full potential, you’re missing out.

Financial restraints affect corporate social networking

The companies who are not making full use of social networking on their intranet blame financial restraints. A number of organisations took part in a survey to see how much they were utilising social networking. Those who hadn’t adopted the most up-to-date software to incorporate this said that in the light of the current economic climate, they didn’t want to spend money to add “tools that teenagers use” to the corporate intranet.

These companies were keeping a tight rein on their technology developments and social media initiatives weren’t part of the standard digital workplace. However, forcing employees to use a standard desktop, with not enough room for new innovations, such as social networking, can have a detrimental effect on the way your company progresses. Be careful not to be left behind in the digital revolution.

How much are companies using social networking?

14 major companies in six countries were surveyed to ascertain how much or how little social networking played a part in their corporate intranet.

The survey revealed that in a lot of organisations, frontline workers, rather than senior managers, were spearheading the vision. This seemed to be because senior managers weren’t using the tools outside of the office, so saw no need to use them in the workplace. It was the younger employees who were the driving force behind any changes, encouraging senior managers to introduce a system whereby the same technology could be used in their working life as in their personal life.

The majority of companies studied were making good use of social networking. One of the findings was that the system tended to be subject to peer-to-peer policing, rather than a “big brother” approach. Those surveyed said this was an effective way of managing the social networking aspect of the intranet, as abuse was rare, due to colleagues looking out for each other and nipping any abuse in the bud.

The tools and how you use them matters

It’s a general consensus that the tools are important, but equally important is how employees use them. Of course, it’s vital too that employees know how to use the tools properly, to make best use of the social software.

One finding of the survey was that organisations enjoying most success with social networking on their intranet were those who had spent time identifying their business’s needs before installing the software. Companies have different priorities and require different forms of internal communication. It would be pointless for all organisations to install a standard type of social networking software with no thought for how their company would benefit from its use.

Once they established their own perspective and what was required, these companies ensured that the correct tools were integrated properly into the existing intranet to make the user experience positive.

Integrating social features and guiding users

It was generally agreed that the best option was gently integrating social networking tools into an existing intranet so that users could be guided into using them. By encountering the new tools naturally, employees were encouraged to use them gradually. This proved a more successful approach than adopting a whole host of new features for the sake of it, with many employees struggling to understand how to use them.

It was considered important to integrate the corporate system’s social features with the main intranet. This meant employees would not be burdened with double the workload. For example, they shouldn’t be forced to upload their profile photo on to both the traditional employee directory and separately on to the company’s social connection tool.

The key is never to assume that all your employees are regular users of social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. For some employees, using these tools on the intranet may be their first exposure to social networking. Ensure that the training is as simple as possible to help those staff who have never used such sites before.

Want to discover more about how a social intranet can transform the way you work? Try a free instant intranet demo.

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