After working with hundreds of companies over the last several years, sometimes I find myself jumping to the end of the social journey. I talk about the new way of working where process and social come together to make work better, and suddenly I realize that I’m talking to someone who is just starting with social. So I thought I would break down the main steps I see on this journey and illustrate a bit about what happens at each stage.
In this post, I'll cover steps 1 and 2 which include activity streams and communities. Check back tomorrow to read more about the rest of the journey, covering to specific business problems and structured business processes.
1 - The Social Stream
When most people think about social, they picture an activity stream. This is typically the first step on the journey, and it’s often done as an experiment. The good news about this step of the journey is that companies often find out that they can solve real-world business problems with a stream that they could not solve in other ways. The most typical case is where a stream connects people who are separated by geography, organizational boundaries, or some other barrier. We’ve seen lots of cases like a consumer goods company who solved a packaging problem in Ireland with expertise from Brazil.
Like every step on the social journey, there is a reason that most people don’t stop with just a stream. The reason is that a single, general stream for everyone in a company can be truly hit or miss. It can be difficult to get valuable information without getting information overload.
2 - Focus through Community
The social journey moves forward from streams by adding communities. Communities or groups give focus to streams so that users know what places to follow to get the right information and where to send questions or posts to make sure they get to the right audience. This kind of focusing allows for more specific kinds of information to be successfully shared. We’ve seen customers use this approach to do everything from share Microsoft Excel tips to finding a way to re-deploy chemicals inside a company instead of disposing of them.
Communities provide a strong benefit, but they also require more effort. Owners need to be identified and governance needs to be put in place to avoid “community sprawl”.
With evidence of the benefit of social focused on particular topics in place, many companies are able to move on to the third stage of the journey.
In tomorrow's post, I'll cover the remaining steps of the enterprise social journey. Check back to learn more.