Everything you need to know about enterprise social networks

Enterprise social networks are fast becoming a necessity for businesses across the globe. If you haven’t created yours yet, or you have but it’s underperforming, here’s everything you need to know.

Why are businesses using enterprise social networks?

Humans are inherently social beings. Even in the digital age, we’re proving this daily. In 2019, the number of active social media users grew by a whopping 9.2% to 3.8 billion. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or WhatsApp, or another social media network, we all have our favourite.Businesses are adapting to the new norm of social interaction, and as a result, they’re incorporating policies, processes, and practices to embed this as a part of their business culture.  Simply put, they’re developing enterprise social network platforms to capture their employees' desire to communicate and collaborate digitally.

What is enterprise social networking?

So, what exactly is social enterprise networking? Because, although we’ve mentioned social media, an enterprise social media network is not the same as, say, LinkedIn.Your enterprise social media network may do a similar job to traditional social media – by connecting a group of like-minded individuals, for example – but it can also do so much more than that.An enterprise social media platform provides your employees with tools they need to communicate way more effectively. Plus, they’re private networks in which only those invited can participate. That’s powerful stuff.

Why use an enterprise social network?

To understand just how social we are, take a moment to consider how your employees, leaders and managers interact – and why. You could probably sum it up under these three headers:

  •       People relationships

  •       Similar interests

  •       Joint duties, responsibilities and goals

People chat with people they feel connected to. They’ll talk about out-of-work interests, hobbies and families. They’ll also talk about work-related issues – mainly in person, on the phone, or by email.Managers tend to hold team meetings and share important information in presentations, email, and direct messaging. Business leaders may use broadcast messaging, intranet or blogs to get their messages across to the wider business.These types of communication are often standalone channels. The benefit of having your own enterprise social network platform is that you can bring all of these conversations together in one space. But the benefits of internal enterprise social networks don’t end there. Enterprise social networking is way more than a tool for communication.

Boost collaboration with an enterprise social platform

This world is hurtling towards greater diversity. The chances are that your team - or at least some of its members - work remotely. Enterprise social networks help employees stay connected. In fact, with an enterprise social network platform you’ll be able to work as if you were sitting next to all your colleagues.If you need some specific help, just look in the company directory and connect. And by integrating apps like project and task management tools into your enterprise social network, you’ll be able to share files and work together wherever you are in the world. All your team’s files, to-do lists, and task reminders in a single place and easily retrieved and shared. Now that’s going to power productivity.

A hub of shared files makes things easier for everyone involved, whether they’re in the office, working remotely, or following a hybrid model of work. No more digging through months’ worth of old email threads searching for that one crucial attachment.

And as your people use the social network more, you’ll start building forums that help them get any answer they need fast. No more waiting for someone to be free or replying to an email request. Searchable forums are proving to be one of the most used resources in enterprise social networks. As questions are asked and answered, and issues are raised and discussed, you embed a culture of knowledge sharing across what were once separated and enclosed silos.To summarise the benefits of an enterprise social network in your business:

  •       Ease of communication

  •       Fast responses

  •       Enabling and encouraging collaboration in real time

  •       Creating a culture of knowledge sharing

  •       Developing cross-functional awareness and capability

You’ll find that enterprise social networking helps your business to develop a more effective and efficient workforce, in which motivation improves and turnover reduces.


How to reap rewards with an enterprise social network

There’s some big benefits waiting if you get your enterprise social network right. A study by APCO Worldwide found that businesses that use social media strategies in the workplace are rewarded with higher employee confidence and connection.Your people can come together on your social platform. When they can share files and knowledge more easily, their work is easier. Your managers will be able to delegate work to the right people at the right time.Integrating everyday tools with your communication tools enables your business to finally work together across all departments.You’ll need to make some decisions, such as how people can access the platform, and what functionality to give different people. The question for you is can you afford not to build knowledge sharing and teamwork into your business? That’s the potential of an effective enterprise social media strategy.

3 Critical tactics for effective enterprise social media networking

Using the right solution is the first step in developing an effective enterprise social network. You want your platform to be user friendly. And it’s got to integrate with all the tools and tech you use in your business already.Building the platform isn’t enough, though. You’ve got to make sure that people are comfortable using it. If it’s not used, your business won’t reap all the benefits it offers. Here are three tactics you should use to make sure your enterprise social network achieves its promise.

1.     Ensure you lead by example

If you want people to use your social network, make sure your leaders and managers are active on it. There is bound to be some confusion at first - after all, doesn’t the company frown on people playing with their social media?But this is different. It’s a business tool. So, get you managers to show your people how useful it is and how much it will improve everyone’s jobs. Set up guides as to how the network can and should be used, and encourage team leaders and department managers to discuss hot topics in team meetings. Reward people when they share their knowledge and experiences on your internal social media. There’s loads of ways to get your social media network buzzing - be creative!

2.     Enhance your enterprise social network with quality content

High quality content is important, but to be really effective it’s got to be relevant. And it’s got to look good on all the devices your people use - whether it’s their mobile, tablet., laptop, or desktop computer.If you offer great looking, useful content, then people will read it - and they’ll comment on it, and share it. This is what you really want: your people involved and active across your social network. Oh, and don’t be afraid to share stuff from other sources too.

3.     Design with the future in mind

Finally, give ownership of your enterprise social network to your employees. Let them find ways to use it effectively. People use what they own, and they don’t destroy what they create. You’ll be surprised how creative your people can be.

Final words

Install an enterprise social network, and you’ll find the benefits are endless. You’ll connect more effectively with your people, and they’ll interact in ways you never anticipated. Teamwork will improve, and you’ll find that shared knowledge and experience boosts morale and capability.But remember, it’s not a standalone tool. Make sure you integrate it with the tools that your employees use to do their daily work, and you’ll find that your social network takes on a life of its own, and is a breath of fresh air across your whole business. And that’s the real power of an enterprise social media network.