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Enterprise social software: What businesses need to do next

Kristin Burnham | Nov. 4, 2011
As Facebook and other social networks have grown in popularity, businesses have started looking for ways to leverage them within the enterprise. The result: an influx of social software companies vying for a spot in business' technology portfolios, and IT and business executives scrambling to map out long-range plans.

This means that public social networks--specifically LinkedIn and Facebook--are still the default enterprise tool that employees turn to for business. "This suggests that most employees discover the value of social for business not behind the corporate firewall, but through interacting with colleagues and clients in the public social sphere," Keitt writes.

Social Software: 5 Tips for Focusing Your Early Efforts

Content and collaboration professionals face a few challenges in creating a roadmap for social software: A small portion of the workforce has adopted these tools, and even that group is limited in how it uses the technology. Here's what Forrester suggests businesses do to focus its early efforts.

1. Evaluate corporate policies. While many businesses still impose restrictions on employees accessing public social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, that won't necessarily stop employees from using their personal computers and smartphones to access them, the report says.

Forrester recommends generating policies that encourage responsible use of social technologies. This may include tweaking current policies that describe acceptable and unacceptable behavior, as well as creating incentives for compliance.

2. Encourage and engage early adopters. Forrester says that while you can't replicate the network effect of millions of engaged users on public social networks, you can create similar value if you enlist early, social-networking-savvy employees to build out their internal social profile page as they did their personal LinkedIn or Facebook pages.

3. Partner with your socially active employees. Start by identifying your most socially active employees both for internal and external social networks. Conduct in-depth interviews with them on how they use social tools and why. Forrester says these combined findings should provide the foundation for how your business plans to effectively use social technologies.

4. Enlist management. In order to make social software valuable to the majority of workers, Forrester says management needs to be involved in order to invest time and resources for creating and pushing the strategy. This may mean enlisting your CMO and CEO to help pick the platform, act as a liaison in communicating expectations, as well as actively using the technology to set an example.

5. With vendors, more is sometimes less. Forrester says that while it's good to provide a range of social tools that give workers flexibility, it's more important to find the tools that best address the needs of your workforce. Be sure to evaluate vendors based on how well their technologies address these issues instead of the size of their offering.

 

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