It’s like Facebook – and it’s OK…

January 30, 2013

You’ve seen them: 7 steps for a more social enterprise, 3 top-tips for increasing employee engagement, 5 strategies for…. These are all very good and useful, although rather repetitive, but one thing is always left out: The fact that Social networking is for entertainment – not for work! Or at least that’s the way many people still see social media.

I have been working actively on an internal Yammer project for the last 8 months and while we have had lots of people sign up and also quite a few engaging actively in the discussions on the platform. Notwithstanding the relatively large contingent of people who are not active, we think that it has been a quite successful journey – more about this journey in later posts.

Introducing Yammer to the masses.
Nothing beats face to face contact so My colleague and I have introduced and demoed Yammer and what it can do for a certain department at department meetings and conferences. Two statements have stood out and we hear them almost everywhere.

  1. We don’t have time for a new tool.
  2. it’s almost like Facebook.

The first preconception is relatively easy to address with the simple answer that you need to take some time to get used to a new tool – any new tool – and that this obviously starts with a cultural change and a handshake that a given group of people will give it a try. As always, with things that requite a change of habits, it is much easier said than done but that’s also a topic for another post.

We always start every introduction by asking a few questions about people’s social media habits and since Denmark is one of the countries where Facebook has the highest penetration rate everybody know Facebook – also if they don’t have a profile. Usually this is very helpful and people who compare it to Facebook will be more prone just to get started but there is another side to this statement. Why does this matter in relation to social media at work? More importantly: Why does the Yammer/Facebook comparison pose a challenge for user adoption?

Entering the ‘Corporate Facebook’
In Denmark we have, like many other places, lots of stories in the media about what social media can and cannot do and along with this also quite a few stories about people losing their jobs or getting bullied on various social media. Additionally some of the larger Danish unions early on told people to be very careful with what they share on social media – especially when it comes to work. People listened and learned. Companies were also quick to announce that social media (ie. Facebook activity) was banned or should be minimized during working hours. Again people listened and learned. Just imagine what could happen if I started using Facebook during my workday…

This is where we are today. Our colleagues have been ‘brought up’ with the fact that social media is something that belongs in the private sphere and when you are at work the use of social tools should be kept to a minimum.

Next thing you know is that your manager has invited two strange guys who are talking about how important it is that we share information in the company and how important it is to ‘break down silos’ – and then they show a tool that looks just like Facebook. WHOA! Slow down! Less than a year ago we weren’t supposed to use this stuff at work – and now you’re saying what…..?

What basically happens is that in addition to the change of habits that is connected with the introduction of a new work tool you also have to come to terms with the fact that you must abandon the thought that using social networks is something you do in your private life – certainly not during 9 to 5. It is not real work! You may argue that this is an ‘age-thing’ and to a certain extent you are right. There ARE more young people among the early adopters but you would be surprised how many 20 and 30-year-olds who roll your eyes at you in the beginning of each presentation, some even saying out loud that these social networks are a waste of time and that they have no place in a work context.

It starts with the managers
I’ve had this talk with quite a few managers who have been wondering why the adoption is relatively slow even if the group has received introductions, training and it has been given an official seal of approval. When we talk about the change of habit and that social networking in a work context largely is like eating forbidden fruit, the manager often realizes how much more there is to it than just throw a new tool into the mix.

The biggest upside is that the “Facebook is not for work” argument works – it makes intuitively sense and it helps underline the importance of the change management effort connected with these tools and I believe that it will ultimately improve adoption. It still takes the 5, 7 and 10 tips that I mentioned in the beginning in order to truly succeed but make sure that you repeat after me over and over: “Yes! It’s like Facebook… and it’s OK…. Really….”

Relevance, Resonance, and the Digital Ninjas – Adobe Summit 2012

May 22, 2012

On my way from work today I heard a somewhat funny segment about how companies increasingly were looking for ‘ninjas’ when hiring new people. In fact the job ads mentioning ‘ninjas’ were up 2500% compared to last year – not to mention the jedis and rock stars who also seem to be in great demand.

I couldn’t help but related it to last week’s Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in London where I came face to face with the digital marketing world once again – a world which I have been a little out of sync with after moving into the intranet realm about 5 years ago. All the more interesting it allowed me to pinpoint some of the development that has happened for the digital marketing professionals and how online marketing has transformed from being very creative profession to become that of number crunchers and controller – maybe even Ninja-controllers…

This is a positive thing. It doesn’t only show that online marketing is reaching a new level of maturity but also that we are getting better and better at leveraging the true strength of online media: Everything can be measured! I posted a tweet about the fact that ‘big data’ was largely absent, but a reply made me realize that these guys don’t think about the concept of ‘big data’ – they are already using these vast amounts of data every day to track what we buy and what our friends recommend all to make sure that we get a tailored, personalized experience throughout the web – and hopefully we’ll buy some stuff along the way.

Honestly, I found some of the insights gained a little disturbing. Everything is about the personalized experience which is all well and good, but if everything is based on what my friends (and friend’s friends) do online are we then not running a risk of losing the individuality somewhere along the way? If you use the internet and social media to seek new inspiration about whatever and all you see is information based on what your friends have done, is it then really new inspiration or are we running around in a circle where we become more and more alike and a circle that becomes more and more tightly knit?

Arianna Huffington gave a very inspiring keynote which was closely related to the above. Like many others she made the point that the ubiquitous social networks makes us more disconnected to ourselves and that we need to remember to disconnect, but more interestingly she also talked about how companies focus heavily on relevance and not resonance. Relevance can be created based on actionable data because you then know what I want and like. Resonance is different: You need to provoke thoughts, challenge my opinions, even my view of the world. There’s no guaranteed sale in resonance, but if you succeed you can rest assured that you have something way more valuable than a mere customer.


The conference? If conversion rates, lifetime customer value, repeat purchases, and those kinds of things are your game then it’s a great event and you should certainly go. If you, like me, focus on the digital workplace within companies and the disruption going on here, I believe that there are better choices for inspiration.

I got some good good input about data privacy, interesting sneak peeks, and – as already mentioned – a very inspiring keynote from Arianna Huffington but other than that it missed the mark for me.

4 years on Twitter – and why the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

March 14, 2012

Today – almost this very minute – it is 4 years since I wrote my first post on Twitter. Now that I think of it and compare it to how much I have gained from using Twitter, I wish that I had written something a bit more profound and heartfelt.The question from Twitter back then was: “What are you doing right now?”- and the answer:

A little more time was spent dabbling around I went into hibernation for about a year until the buzz picked up again. My conclusion (and my 5th tweet) after a little reading, research, and a few experiments… Oh. The irony….

Luckily I now had two colleagues @lizzygreatfarm and @signalize who shared my rekindled interest. I quickly decided on two principles: Tweet in English + Stick as strictly as possible to professional content (intranets, social media, digital workplace), and the result is that today Twitter has become my number one source for professional news and updates.

So what have I learned after 4 years, and why have I found out that Twitter is NOT a waste of time?

1) Nothing beats learning by doing
Get in there, don’t stand on the sideline and be prepared to give It a little more time than you would expect. Whatever you do don’t be afraid to experiment – you often learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.

2) Twitter is a little like dating
…but from a professional point-of-view. You start by following someone and one day you might just find yourself in the same room as one of ‘your’ tweeps. When it comes to networking connecting in real life makes so much more sense when you have had some meaningful contact before you actually meet.

3) Stay in touch and extend the discussions
If you, like me, attend some conferences or other professional events throughout the year Twitter is unparalleled for staying in touch. LinkedIn can be used for keeping track of who you meet, but I consider it like a virtual rolodex. Twitter is so much more vibrant and provides a great basis for dialogue – there’s not much dialogue in an online business card.

So what are the negatives of using Twitter today? Well, to be honest I think that I now know exactly when and for what I use Twitter so for me, personally, I don’t really see any downsides. No doubt that Twitter will remain an important tool for my personal-professional news and network in the time to come………and in case you wonder: Yes. The apple pie was a great pudding that day! :-)

More insights from the basement – ISM Forum part 2

November 7, 2011

After a great day with lots of input – some of which I blogged about here – I was back in the basement for more insights. A little more preoccupied with the fact that I had to do my own presentation (which went well if you ask me) but the day also provided more great insights.

One of the first presentations was from BT. I have seen this presented several times, but I have to say that they are doing a great job and there’s always good ideas to find here. The interesting thing this time around was that BT has encouraged ’non-business’ social stuff in order to get the social side going – a really good approach, but also one which requires very good support from management.

If I compare to my own company I am sure that there will be a substantial divide between those who think it’s a good idea and those who don’t. Who is the bigger group is hard to say, but regardless I think everybody should keep Richards wise words in mind: ”People don’t come in thin slices – they come in 3D”. What he meant was that companies focus on a very small portion of a person. That portion consist of the expertise needed to fill the job role. Everything else is best left at home. Personally, I would like to see more ’3D people’ in the workplace. Wouldn’t you?

The ROMEC case featured a very entertaining music video which was a very welcome break, but the main takeaway for me was their use fo offline initiatives to drive traffic to the intranet. Nigel told how they used postcards sent directly to the employee’s homes to encourage use of the intranet. Simple and reasonably easy. In my opinion this is something that many, including ourselves, should do a lot more of. As a company you still want to engage with them, but in order to achieve this, you must look in the bag of old marketing tricks. Comms and marketing may be a bit like cats and dogs, but here’s an area where we can benefit from working together.

The final presentation of the day was the one I was particularly interested in. Attending a course in strategic management, I have recently turned in a paper on internal networking and in the process of writing this I have been thinking a lot about the future workplace and how loose ties become more and more important in diverse organisations. Luis shared very interesting insights in how IBM has become a very ’disconnected’ company and yet the social technologies help them stay connected allowing the IBMers to work when ever and wherever. He mentioned that people did not share their own work under their own name on the 16,000 blogs as much as they contribute to the internal IBM wiki which has more than 1 million page views per day. Very interesting that the internal sharing is driven by more altruistic motives, and not fuelled by the ‘Ego factors’ mentioned on Day 1…

Luis’ closing remark: ”Work happens wherever you are. You are work. Work is you.” was a very appropriate end to another day with lots of good input. After all, it was Friday afternoon close to 6 pm, and in a way this sould be classified as work, but a most inspiring kind.


A brief epilogue: Thank you to all delegates for two days of excellent networking and last, but not least, a thank you to the ForwardNetworking team, Jozefa, Martin, and Luuk, for two excellent days.

Internal Social Media Forum – Day 1

November 3, 2011

Internal social media have a hard time getting priority in most companies – if that’s the reason for the Internal Social Media Forum being held in a hotel basement in Madrid is not for me to say, but the thoght did enter my mind during the first day.

Regardless of the venue, I did see some very interesting presentations with some good learnings, ideas, and food for thought. The highlight of the day – at least for me – was the presentation by Jerome from Alcatel Lucent. I was truly impressed by the level of internal transparency and openness they have achieved in a company of 77,000 employees.

The most striking takeaway was that the users had rejected Sharepoint as the platform of choise!

  1. Sharepoint rejected?
  2. Users had a say?

I’m officially impressed! According to Jerome, this wasa due to the fact that people brought their expericences from ’outside’ platforms like Yammer and Facebook which made them expect the same simplicity internally.

Other interesting takeaways was the focus on gamification from Verizon. Elizabeth told how they focused on the person and not the processes which, obviously, talks to the ”Ego-factor” that all people possess in some degree, and there is no doubt that vanity is a very powerful motivator when it comes to user adoption.

The final presentation of the day was from SAP and what struck me the most was the honesty about what makes people tick. Not strategies, not figures, but stories about real people. If you find what Angela and her team has dubbed ’Extreme Heroes’ and tell their story you create lots of engagement. It may not be strictly business relevant, but in this age of social media, engagement is what you are looking for, and what company can honestly say that they don’t want engaged employees?

All in all a very interesting day 1, and I am certainly looking forward to the sequel tomorrow. Stay tuned for more from the basement in Madrid, or follow the hashtag #ISM2011 on Twitter :-)

Klout – a full time job?

November 1, 2011

I have been a little intreagued by services like Klout that try to measure your ‘social value’. However, after a 3 day weekend I came back and checked Klout and this is what I saw:

Did I become significantly less influential because I wasn’t there for 3 days? I don’t think so! If I had abandoned the web for a month or two, I would have believed it, but 3 days?!?

I like the notion of having some sort of credibility score, but this is just no good.

Flight E-2.0 taking off – Destination: Unknown

August 12, 2011

Back in December I was recommended to read Enterprise 2.0 by Andrew McAfee and so I did. A very inspiring book which really provided some food for thought and put some of my own thoughts into a new context. This is not a review of the book – I have included links to a couple of reviews at the end of this post.

Working in a highly dispersed and specialised – but also fairly old – organisation it has become very obvious to me that we have a number of very strong informal networks within the company and I believe that’s one of the main reasons that the concept of weak ties really struck a chord with me, and also made me wonder if this could be a relevant angle for introducing the concept of an internal social network.

In one of my previous posts I wrote about our annual intranet survey, and back then I decided to include some questions around social media in the organisation. Now the results are in and as you can see below, almost 30% “don’t know” if an internal social network will improve collaboration internally.

From 2011 intranet satisfaction survey

This obviously helps make the case, and with a plethora of “free to try” tools available, I feel that now is the time to see if a corporate network can bring value to the company. The big questions: Can modern technology ie. a corporate social network…

…Bring “us” closer together?
…Help break down organisational and geographical barriers?
…Speed up the process of finding information and knowledge?

Now the next step is to get backing to run an actual pilot. We already have the obligatory rogue networks on eg. Yammer internally which, all things considered, will make it easier to recruit people to help spread the word, but there is no guarantee that this initiative will succeed.

Other companies succeed – we can too. It requires an effort, it requires support, but first and foremost it requires that the right people BELIEVE that this can make a difference. It almost sounds religious and maybe it is, but now that I think of it, many of the most significant changes in the world has not happened because of careful planning (and business cases) but as a result of a strong belief and commitment.

We’re ready on the tarmac – all we need is a ‘Go!’ from the control tower! Stay tuned for updates – over… :-)


If you are looking for more about the book I can recommend the comprehensive reviews by Samuel Driessen (who recommended the book to me – much appreciated) and Gil Yehuda.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers