I know that they are more properly known as an ESN (enterprise social network) but not everyone recognises the jargon. They might however, recognise some of those things that are often said about using social media networks within organisations, networks like Yammer or Jive.
When I am out and about talking to people about all things social, here are those objections and myths that I hear often about internal social networks, along with my usual response:
It’s not work.
Using an internal social network is all about ‘working out loud’. Sharing what is going on and being worked on. It’s about improved communication and open, real time dialogue. It’s also about overcoming silos and barriers to good internal communication. That is most definitely work. Or it certainly should be. There will probably be a bit of social on there too. But that happens in real life too. Haven’t you ever chatted to colleague over lunch?
I don’t have time.
Everyone, especially leaders, should have time to share information and communicate with the people around them. Frankly, this is a lazy excuse. And if used to its fullest, a social network will save you time hunting for information or searching for the right person to talk to.
It’s no different to using email.
Oh yes it is. Email only goes to the people on the ‘to’ list. It is knowledge and information limited to a small list of people. Using a social network means information is open for everyone to see and benefit from. There are some things that email might be more suited for (see next point) but most organisations can share plenty more than they currently do.
It is a confidentiality risk.
There are some things that should be confidential, and this won’t change. Obviously, keep these things away from a social network – this is just basic common sense. But there are probably also plenty of things that aren’t that sensitive and can happily be shared more widely than they usually are. And don’t forget your internal social network is restricted to those with a company email address.
My team will waste time on it.
Some people will find any way to waste time at work, especially if they are disengaged. If they do, then deal with them. But don’t cut off the benefits to those that will use it wisely. Learning more about the company, colleagues, sharing information…. none of these things are a waste of time.
People will misuse it.
They might. See above.
It is difficult to use.
It is true that if technology is too difficult to use, it has a big impact on adoption. But most social platforms are fairly straightforward if you actually want to learn how to use them. Often, this means objection something else entirely. Like I don’t want to.
I’ve got nothing to say.
Lots of people say this when they first get social. But everyone has something worth sharing about their job, something that they are working on, or maybe can contribute to what someone else is doing. Just get out there. You never know what benefits you will find or how you can help someone else.
It doesn’t apply to our business.
Sound the klaxon. I’ve heard this one too many times. Social media applies to every business, whether you like it or not, believe it or not. Your customers are there, your employees are there, your competitors are there. The very basis of an internal social network is about collaboration and conversation. And that applies to every business.
It is only for younger employees.
Really? Sharing knowledge within the workplace and communicating with colleagues is just for a certain age group? #generationblah.
Internal social networks have the power to fundamentally change how organisations communicate and collaborate. There are some good examples of companies doing just that, but unfortunately for many it is a potential yet unfulfilled. But maybe if we overcome these standard objections, we can truly reap the rewards.
If you have heard a different objection, then feel free to add it into the comments!