Social Glue – Making social initiatives work together

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There is no doubt: Your company has gone social. Your CEO may not understand it and the board may not approve of it, but they are slowly being swayed by the results. They see how Yammer has helped that department work faster in a more collaborative manner producing better results (eventhough they were told not […]

Social Glue

There is no doubt: Your company has gone social. Your CEO may not understand it and the board may not approve of it, but they are slowly being swayed by the results.

They see how Yammer has helped that department work faster in a more collaborative manner producing better results (eventhough they were told not to install it). They understand the value in the Wiki that captured all the good thoughts and knowledge of that bright young employee who unfortunately have now left for a job at the competitor.

And the people on the ground loves it. Instant messaging, micro blogging, wikis, forums, email lists they have all not only helped construct a faster work environment delivering better results, they have also created a much more engaging, stimulating and fun way of working.

…but some times you wish it would take so much time! For the older employees it starts to feel like the email flood all over again. Yes, it’s great… but it takes so much time. We’ve finally (barely) gotten used managing emails do we need to do it all over again?

The problem

Not really. The problem is not the user’s netiquette; it is task repetition. Let’s say you write a great entry in the company-approved wiki. Who will read it? Probably nobody as they don’t know it exists. So you post it on Yammer. But as Yammer was installed bottom up, maybe even against the will of the management, so not everybody is using it.

So you email it to the established corporate emailing lists, but at the back of your mind you know your colleagues may not read those as they are often filled with irrelevant entries so finally you send your wiki page via Skype to the people you know who should have access to it praying they will forward it to the right people they know.

Hard work… What is missing? Social glue is missing!

What is Social Glue?

I define Social Glue as the ability to take all the individual parts and stick them together as one single vehicle taking the whole company forward at the same speed.

Practically social glue is two things;

  • It is the strategy of how to use what for what and why.
  • It is also the practical mechanism that determines how the content is delivered to the correct users.

The Answer

Let’s take the example above again. Prior to you write your article the company has gone through an audit of existing social endeavours within the company.

The audit reveals the benefits the wiki in capturing content but highlights the problem with distribution. Everybody within the company was given access to the wiki when it was launched and for most people it has become the default look-up of information. But how to promote new content that users may not know they need?

The company decides to deploy an environment of user groups attached to the wiki. The groups are carefully defined by several parameters that represents the company infra structure. They could be role, department, seniority, project specific, location-specific etc These groups are in turn attached to the HR system so the members within each groups are largely maintained automatically.

Additional functionality are then added to the wiki to allow new articles to be posted to relevant groups from the wiki itself. This could be done with an organic tagging structure or more rigid process where authors are required to define which groups they want to broadcast articles to.

The wiki also allows consumers of content to personalise how they want to receive alerts. Does it go on my intranet homepage; Do I receive an email alert? Does it show in my Yammer? Or do I download the custom desktop widget that triggers desktop alerts?

So now you as the author only has to publish the article once and can even do it within the same environment you wrote it in; the wiki. Your readers then receive the alert through what channel is most relevant to them.

The system also brings benefits to you as the author. Whenever you update the article the system can trigger a repeat alert to the same groups of colleagues.

And it doesn’t end here. A commenting function is built in to the Wiki allowing all users to converse directly next to the article capturing comments from people who may not know each other but all have valid contributions. And again everybody, including yourself, can be notified when somebody comments, modifies or interacts with your article.

If you can’t beat them, tweet them

I have previously written about How to support your self-appointed social media evangelists. It seems to me most social media initiates within companies are created by rouge, often digital native, forces at the bottom of the company. This is great as it bypasses the more slow top-down process and proves the value of social media to the more senior, but non-digital native managers and directors.

But to make a true next-generation work environment that fits the growing workforce made of the Net Generation the next step is to take these grass root initiatives forward lead from the top of the company so every employee and every data object is working together as a single professional community adding true speed and collaboration at a company-wide level.

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