So you have support and buy-in from the powers that be at your company to launch a social network, you have the platform setup and you’re ready to “Go Live.” The platform will be ready tomorrow, so you will launch next week, but are you really ready? Do the users know about the platform? Will they use it? Who are your social champions to help spread the word? Let’s take a step back and look at the preparation that goes into a successful launch.
1. Pre-launch Communication
No one sent you an email and asked you to join LinkedIn or Facebook, but you must have heard about the platform from somewhere or you wouldn’t have known to join. The same goes for your social network. Get the word out! Communicate with your users that social is coming to your workplace and this tool will be available to them soon. Communication can be via email, but we all get so many emails in a day, many of them get overlooked. I would instead suggest posters,table tents or even a game. Post teasers, to drive interest like “A new way to communicate…”, “Breaking down barriers…”, etc. then enhance the message to include “with social” or “with Yammer”. This will drive some buzz and curiosity about what’s coming. Awareness is half the battle of a successful launch and long term adoption.
2. Write a Usage Policy
Usage policy is kind of a strong term, for what we really want to create here. I have heard many clients tell me they don’t want social because they can’t govern it. I have two things to say about that, 1. There are ways to govern these platforms, 2. You shouldn’t have to. Your users have access to e-mail, phones, laptops, and other devices that allow them to communicate with each other, your external partners, and access company information. There are also policies around what they should and should not be doing and saying. The same applies to social. These policies apply, just because there is a new communication channel, does not mean that your employees are suddenly going to toss the rules out the window when they join your social network. Instead of a usage policy, put together a social etiquette document. Remind users that the same polices that govern other areas in the company still apply, but more importantly tell them about the purpose of your social network. Whether it is intended to connect with external partners or provide a space for project team collaboration.
3. Identify Social Champions
Social grows organically, right? Facebook was created, people heard about it, people joined, and it grew to be bigger than anyone had ever imagined. That’s how social networks are supposed to work, and this is true, BUT if people joined Facebook and then no one posted anything, and everyone was just an information consumer do you think it would’ve succeeded? Probably not. Your social network is no different.
We need people who are going to champion this network. People who are committed to making this initiative a success. As people join they will start to utilize the platform, just like people did with Facebook, but someone has got to start the movement. Your identified social champions (or community managers) are responsible for pushing the social platform in places where email or another tool may have been the solution before. Write posts, respond to questions, and help users understand the benefits of the platform.
4. Create Network Structure
Your file shares have structure, and so does your document management system, your social platform is no different. Social has some level of organization just like everything else. What networks will you create to start? Will they only include internal users or will external users be allowed access? What groups will be created in your network? Will they be organized by subject matter, project, working teams, or something else? Your entire roadmap doesn’t need to be defined to launch social, but you should have an idea of what your network will look like. After you write your social etiquette document, you have identified the purpose of your social network which should help you guide how content should be stored. Know that your users are going to grow this network, and more than just the admin will likely have access to create new groups, but setting the framework for organization will help your users understand how content should be organized.
Your social launch is important, it’s going to drive the success or failure of your platform. This is a critical time for initial adoption and finding those who will champion this new tool. Next we will talk about what your social champions will need to succeed.
User Experience & Social Collaboration Evangelist – Senior Manager