It doesn't really matter which enterprise social networking (ESN) platform you have implemented, or are implementing. There are a lot of platforms out there, some good and some great… Sitrion Social anybody? It is all about the digital culture on that platform that will either make or break your investment. Most companies that are using ESN today have come up with strategies, or social roadmaps, and, to support these strategies, have tried to translate corporate strategic initiatives into KPI’s.
Translating smart, measurable, strategic initiatives into socially-applicable KPI’s tends to be really difficult. The crux being what and more importantly how to measure and analyze the usage on your platform. Questions like:
- What does a ‘like’ tell me?
- Is it the quality of the post or the fact that someone is sharing it?
- If only 2% is actively posting, does it make my platform a failure?
It Can’t Be All Black and White
So it seems that quantitative measurements in an organically-growing, highly-humanized, technology platform only gets you so far. (I highly recommend that you check out this nice post from Stacey Barr around measuring qualitative vs. quantitative). Basically you can’t capture your digital online culture and measure it through black and white questions, when it’s the greys in-between that makes up your organization’s culture.
But we all know that in order to run any strategy, we need to know what we are talking about and that has everything to do with numbers and data. The big questions still being, how do you measure digital online culture and how do you capture human behavior in a statistic? Surely even more important, how do we translate the culture we eventually want our organization to get to into something tangible that reflects our core strategic initiatives?
An ESN Isn’t a Typical IT System
To answer that question we need to take a close look at ESN and understand why it’s so distinctly different than other IT systems we have implemented over the past years. One thing that sets ESN apart from other IT systems is the way it gets embedded into an organization. There is a use case for each and every department, project team, or person. And the more content added to it, the more useful it gets to eventually become a business critical environment holding knowledge, expertise, and processes. In other words, if you take care, invest in, and nurture an ESN platform, it will start to grow organically.
An incident tracking piece of software, for instance, won’t embed in this way. Sure it will become more helpful and will contain more and more information over time, but it will always need to follow process rules. Tickets will be opened, edited, assigned, and eventually closed. We can analyze this behavior on the platform and come to conclusions like: there are too many tickets per person; response times are poor; or finding answers take too long.
Steer the Ship in the Right Direction
So instead of setting very specific black and white goals around strategic initiatives on an ESN platform, let’s start capturing trends and steer accordingly to these trends over time. We need to get qualitative measurements giving us context between that which is published or talked about, and the direction our organization is aiming to get to in the long term. Understanding what a strategic initiative is about, where it comes from, and what it is trying to solve, makes it possible to translate it into a campaign aimed at changing an organization’s culture.
Trends seem to be hard to measure and it does take a lot of effort and time, but it is not impossible. In fact all it takes is a bit of planning, clever manipulating of the crowd (persuasive technology), and architecting your platform to specific hubs to harvest opinions, thoughts, ideas, and reactions. Combined with quantitative data we can get a very clear picture of the usage of an ESN platform and map them back to strategic initiatives.