Enterprise social networking is big business, and has been growing in prominence since the late ‘00s. The demand for companies to incorporate social software that helps employees collaborate has grown significantly over the past five years. Indeed, internal social network giant Slack has seen its user base increase by 500% since 2015, indicating that the need for enterprise social networking tools shows no sign of slowing down.
What is an enterprise social network?
Enterprise social networking – sometimes known as corporate social networking – provides organisations with an internal social media platform that enables employee collaboration and communication, usually within a company intranet or digital workspace. For the most part, enterprise social networking is a replacement for email.
Team members can create their own social channels to discuss any business-related topic, such as ideas for increasing employee engagement levels or suggestions for improving customer retention.
So how do enterprise social networks (ESN) differ from other knowledge sharing tools, and what are the pros and cons? Let’s take a look in more detail below!
Pros of enterprise social networking tools
Enterprise social networks offer many benefits over email, including:
- Enterprise social networks (ESN) facilitate efficient working. In contrast, email is proven to be a distraction because it’s segmented away from the digital workplace, letting in unwarranted interruptions.
- Enterprise social networking centralises conversations in one single location, improving team collaboration and employee engagement.
- Task management, project management, and knowledge sharing all benefit from a corporate social media platform thanks to its in-built technology that segments discussions into dedicated channels.
- ESNs streamline business processes by preventing digressions and promoting transparency – which certainly can’t be said for email!
Cons of corporate social media software
Despite the popularity of enterprise social networking, recent studies have shown that after the initial spike in user engagement, ESNs quickly dwindle in usage shortly after they are launched. So why does reality not live up to the hype?
One theory is that there is no real connection between a company’s workplace culture and their corporate social networks. It could be argued that enterprise social media software isn’t actually that useful if used in isolation, because it provides yet another place to get distracted from “real work”. No one can deny that these apps facilitate communication, but do they facilitate productive working? A decline in usage after launch day could suggest that this isn’t the case.
How to get the most out of enterprise social networking
The real power and return on investment comes when enterprise social networks are integrated into systems that already promote productivity, rather than used in isolation.
Employee intranets and digital workplaces are the ideal carriers for corporate social networking, because the software already provides useful features that will boost the effectiveness and relevance of ESNs. Think employee profiles, document management, and knowledge sharing tools.
When your ESN is located within the same space as your business productivity tools, staff can make better use of the software by linking to internal files, collaborating on projects, and tagging specific coworkers with @mention technology.
There needs to be a palpable connection between everyday tasks and ESNs for the software to be relevant, and integrating it into the digital workplace is the best way to achieve this.