A question from an organisational learning partner:
What are some tips for implementing social media into the workplace?
Here are my questions & tips - in no particular order:
1. Who's idea is it? Is it yours or the end users? If it's your's, then you need to check that the intended end users also think it's a good idea, or you may be wasting your time. Ask the real end users. Ask lots of them. And get to know their workflow and pain points. What kind of social media space would help them to do their job better?
2. Is our organisation ready for social media? This question is about organisational culture and climate. Is the organisation autocratic, hierarchical, democratic or collaborative by nature? Are there high levels of trust? Do staff inherently understand cooroporate behaviour and responsibilities? Get some early HR and OD advice.
3. What's the imperative to join? Intended users will not sign up or join unless they are compelled to do so.
4. What's its purpose? Once the end user is in the space, they must be able to quickly assess it's purpose to them, or they will leave and never come back. Make sure a new space is already filled with useful stuff when it's launched.
5. What are you asking users to do? Be clear about the agreed expectations of the community, including contribution and behaviour. If the expectations are onerous, this won't be appreciated by busy users. We are all time poor - even contributors to social media.
1. Make sure the platform is easy to use and interacts with workflow. Conduct UAT early, before full implementation. Sit next to the testers and watch them sign in and orientate themselves to the space. Then ask them direct questions about their decision-making in the space.
2. Make sure the platform functionality interacts with user workflow. Ensure posts come to users rather than users having to revisit the space. Think LinkedIn. The weekly digest functionality with embedded hyperlinks makes going back to the online discussion really easy.
3. Be realistic about uptake. It takes time to create a critical mass that will self-feed and propel conversation. Be prepared to 'force feed' the space for a while. Remember, not only are contributors learning - so are the 'lurkers.' Don't simply measure contributions. Measure site visits as well.
4. Use a competition to promote the space and it's purpose. There's nothing like a bit of fun to create interest and conversation about an initiative. Make sure the competition isn't too arduous - you are looking for users to experience simple success.
5. Make sure you have executive engagement. This is important, not only to ensure you don't run into issues with policy, but also to ensure executives understand the social learning benefits of social media. Get them to lead by example. Get them to contribute to the space and to publicly reward the behaviour of contributors by responding to them.
6. Implement a rolling change strategy. Think 1. Communication, 2. Education and 3. Modelling behaviour. Communicate early success. Educate by providing "how do I" videos or tips in the space itself. Model behaviour yourself. This means visit the space every day, and contribute regularly.
7. Wear the shoes of an end-user. Notice how difficult it is to write your first posts - not only functionally, but just getting the words out. Don't expect 600 word posts. A simple couple of sentences can be a very useful contribution.
8. Get design advice. If you're designing the space from scratch, you need to consider the principles of human-computer interaction. A website designer can give you some practical advice.
9. Keep it tidy and up to date. New users will make mistakes where to post. Discussions and resources will become out of date. New resources that users expect in the space may be missing. A dedicated someone is needed to fuel the conversation, tidy mistakes and keep resources fresh.
10. Plan for redundancy. The space will not live in it's current form forever. New technology will make the space seem old. New functionality will be missing from this space. Platforms will need upgrading for tech security and tech support reasons. Discussions will need archiving. Don't be surprised if the implemented social media platform has only a 3 year shelf life.
I hope this post has been useful. For more posts and video tutorials on social media, click "Social media" in the categories list.
If you have a tip you would like to share, or a question, feel free to comment or use the Contact Us form.
Next post I will address social media for formal organisational learning.
About the Author
E-Learning, LMS & Social Media Consultant. E-Learning Trainer and Coach.
The E-coach Blog
Visit regularly to read or listen to insights in organisational e-learning from the Academy's e-coach, Alison Bickford. New topics are posted weekly. Why not add the blog RSS feed into your favourite news aggregator to receive updates automatically.