Why does everything to do with social collaboration sound like so much work? We talk of enterprises, vast collaborative landscapes and complex user bases. 

For those taking the first brave steps, it can seem more of a learning cliff than a learning curve. And for those doing this on top of their day job, insurmountable.

Make It Simple

I had written a draft of this article last week, discussing the key techniques for encouraging low-maintenance networks of need. But then I watched David Groom of MSC present their Ragan award-winning intranet. Groom discussed the decision-making process, how they made adoption simple and then made a profound statement when asked what advice he would give himself if he was creating his intranet and culture again. It was too brilliant not to share:

If you aren't a full time Intranet Manager or Community Manager, it can feel like a hobby on top of the day job. Make sure you use tools that are quick to implement and understand"

Simple tools don't mean dumbing down your workforce, simple tools make for a smarter workforce.

As the person implementing them, make sure you are able to ramp up or ramp down tools quickly. There is nothing wrong with failing fast and trying something else from time to time, but do so in a strategic manner. Strategic thinking will overcome the typical mistake of adding tools for a specific need rather than sweating the functionality you already have.

Tools you can activate in the click of a button frees you up to focus on the benefit rather than integration. This allows you to phase in tools that meet user needs as they're required.

Make it Clear

The secret to user adoption is showing users how to use tools after explaining why they're better than previous alternatives"

So you understand what a tool can do and why you've done it, but do your users? Be sure you communicate their use so your audience gets it. Remember they are consumers: if your product isn't decidedly easier or quicker, why would they change their habits?

To make this easy think "can I explain this within ten seconds? What's in it for the user?"

Make it Sticky

Never underestimate the power of getting your content liked and shared for bringing you back to do more"

Hands up who gets a buzz from your content being liked and shared on Facebook or LinkedIn, or your Tweets retweeted? It's a good feeling, isn't it? It's also a good way to qualify success.

While a blog explaining why the organization faces an across the board pay freeze won't be met with the same enthusiasm as an announcement of an off site team building exercise, view any engagement with posts as a positive. Similarly, gamifying engagement with your tools, through influence score or a rewards system, can bring out the inert competitor and communicator.

Make it Relevant

Senior managers often have the same training needs as a standard user"

Have objectives and initiatives, create measures of success that actually have a meaning for the organization, and don't just think in terms of ROI, think in terms of both quantitative and qualitative benefits.

The people judging your success may also be one of your consumers. Make it as easy as possible for them to understand and use your tools.

This Still Sounds Like Hard Work to Me

The beauty of the guidance above is you don't need to do it all at once. In fact, I would recommend you don't. Phase in effective tools based on available time. And unless you have a guaranteed captive audience to use it instantly, remember perception can be as critical as function.

Follow these steps, and you can ease the pressures of enhancing enterprise networking.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  -Tripp-