Chances are you’ve experimented with all sorts of social technologies. You’ve got wikis, blogs and team collaboration sites. You may even have a public customer community. And now every legacy tool vendor under the sun is adding social bling to their software.

It might be tempting to try to stitch all of these things together to create a Social Business platform.


You’ll end up with a monster. A Social Frankenstein.

You’ll end up with something that has all the right parts, but lacks soul. That spells certain death to your Social Business strategy.

Done right, Social Business will become the soul of your company. It will change the way you engage your employees, customers and partners.

At Jive, we’ve found that customers are most successful when they implement a cohesive Social Business strategy based on a couple key principles:

It’s Not Technology, It’s Business

The fastest path to building a Social Frankenstein is to think technology first. In an emerging market like Social Business, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of framing your approach in terms of what you are going to build (“we need an employee social network” or “we need a customer community”) rather than the business goal you are trying to accomplish.

Take a big step back. Think in terms of the business imperative you are trying to achieve. Is your goal to change the way employees find information and expertise? Are you looking to change the way you enable and invigorate your sales and partner channel? Do you want to dramatically improve customer service?

After you’ve identified the business imperative you are going to tackle, you can have a more meaningful conversation about how to accomplish that task.

Ignore Experience at Your Peril

We get asked all the time how to ensure broad user adoption. While there are many things you can do to promote broad adoption, there’s one surefire way to kill it: ignore user experience. I’m not just talking about making sure it has a nice UI. For rapid, sustained adoption, you need to provide an experience that people love.

Think of it this way: your employees spend much of their personal time using software they love. And then they come to work and stare at their screens in utter disbelief.

Shock them. Give them an enterprise app they actually love to use. Make it fun. Encourage conversations that aren’t work-related. As you do, you’ll find that people get engaged. Those same guys that are swapping photography tips will start discussing new product ideas.

A fantastic user experience will do more to drive adoption than any management dictate ever will. Most Social Business rollouts are completely optional for the end user. Yet, we’ve seen many customers that add north of 4,000 new users per week. Provide an unexpected user experience, and your employees will flock to it.

Now do the same for your customers. Do something unexpected. Pick some area of customer interaction -- the way you provide customer support, the way you solicit ideas -- and make it personal. Put a human face to how you engage your customers and partners, and you’ll change your business and the way you work.

The Biggest Opportunity You’ll See in a Decade

Let’s face it. The last decade hasn’t been very exciting for enterprise software. Businesses battened the hatches, and most of the innovations came in infrastructure (like virtualization and cloud computing).

That’s changing in a big way. We’re about to see a wave of innovation in enterprise software unlike anything we’ve seen since the early days of the Web.

Just as social networking has challenged email as a primary mode of communication in our personal lives, the long-held paradigms of folders, process management, email and soul-sucking enterprise applications are being challenged in the business.

It’s time for enterprise software to inspire us again.

Don’t settle for incremental improvements in productivity. Don’t settle for user experiences that are good only when compared to the status quo. Don’t settle for a science experiment.

Create something legendary.