Adopting social media platforms for businesses can facilitate remarkable opportunities for collaboration, employee learning and community-building. For today's employees, social media networks are an integral part of personal day-to-day life and communication. In 2015, 73 percent of Americans had at least one social media profile, with adoption rates slightly higher among Millennials, according to Statista.
The Value of Social Media
While many HR leadership teams have historically discouraged the use of social media in the workplace, CHROs are beginning to realize the remarkable potential of social platforms for communication and collaboration. ADP Research Institute's® study The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce reveals that 50 percent of employees look toward a future where social media acts as a platform for collaboration in the workplace, while 38 percent believe that trend is occurring today. The Society for Human Resource Management writes that "worthy" reasons to adopt social media platforms for businesses are to "improve employees' learning ... encourage more sociability among participants and ... create engagement." In addition, Forbes reports that "social media can be the catalyst for success by empowering people and fueling ideas."
Selecting the Best Social Media Platform for Your Organization
Today's enterprise social networks (ESNs) are, in many cases, remarkably similar to popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Before selecting an out-of-the-box solution or starting work toward custom development, HR leaders should try to understand their goals for value creation. By aligning your ESN goals with your overall HR strategy, including increased retention and stronger employee relationships, you may be able to select features that integrate well into your long-term targets.
By prioritizing business goals above features, HR leaders will increase their chances of success. By understanding your need to improve knowledge sharing, you may discover that a social search feature is beneficial. To create productive conversations between geographically scattered teams, group functionality can solve pain points. According to LinkedIn, "the new relationships created by ... enterprise social networks are the source for value creation."
Coaching Employees to Adopt Social Networks
One of the biggest ESN implementation issues for HR leaders is poor adoption. Harvard Business Review reports that less than half of employees use social enterprise networks on a regular basis, though chances of adoption are significantly higher with implementation best practices:
- Do: Be proactive about providing a great experience from the outset.
- Don't: Assume adoption will grow organically within the organization.
- Do: Improve access with mobile apps and team use cases.
- Don't: Ignore the power of incentivized use.
- Do: Provide clear guidelines and expectations for transitioning processes carefully to your ESN.
The next major step will be to devise a strategic implementation process, which requires HR leadership teams to actively educate employees and encourage collaboration.
To facilitate success, leaders should employ the following three strategies.
1. Get executives involved.
Executive sponsorship is a critical component of any successful technology initiative, and it could be especially critical when it comes to encouraging productive use of ESNs. When executives adopt the platform as a place to listen and be heard, employees at all levels of the organization will generally follow suit. HBR writes that an Australian Telecommunications CEO received 700 responses on social media to his internally posed question, "what processes and technologies should we eliminate?" So by asking members of the leadership team to model engaged and collaborative behaviors, you can subtly coach employees toward adoption.
2. Designate collaboration consultants.
The use of power users, or middle management and employees who receive extra training on new technology initiatives, can be a very useful strategy to ensure you have subject matter experts at all levels of the organization. You should endeavor to transform team leaders into your experts, providing those individuals with in-depth knowledge of the platform's capabilities. Those leaders can then in turn form team groups and help employees "exploit the ESN" for collaborative purposes.
3. Create communities.
Optimally, your ESN will provide the tools and platform necessary for employees to seek out opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing. By building opportunities for employees to develop communities, mentor and mentee relationships and share questions, HR leaders can allow the social network to take on a life of its own.
By providing a social networking platform that mirrors the features and function of the worlds' most popular networks and includes the right forums and features for employees to forge new working relationships, HR leaders can facilitate and inspire new connections throughout the organization.
For more information on social media platforms for business, download the report: Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace.
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