6 ways to bolster your social enterprise network

Afraid your employees will waste time on an internal Facebook? ‘No guts, no glory,’ says a top SAS internal communicator. Get them involved, so your organization benefits.

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan’s new distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains more than 200 hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Click here for more on this session.

So you’re launching great internal social enterprise network. But some of your bigwigs are grumbling, “Won’t the little people just waste time there, like on Facebook?”

Perhaps you’re biting your nails over whether you can attract staffers to the platform and deliver the business value you promised.

Take a page form the strategy book of SAS, the North Carolina business analytics firm. Create interesting content, and get staffers involved so they can speed the exchange of knowledge within your organization.

In a Ragan Training video titled “No guts, no glory: Why you have to be brave to have an intranet that works,” SAS Internal Communications Senior Director Karen Lee urges companies to allow conversation. Promote interesting people (and dogs), and maybe even use Valentine’s Day (coming soon, folks) to win some love for your network.

Here are some tips:

1. Give them a place to talk—or else

SAS decided to create its Socialcast-based platform, The Hub, because employees were going to Facebook to collaborate, Lee says. SAS wanted to bring all this gabbing about goings on at the company within the firewall.

Lee is often asked if SAS managers aren’t worried employees will squander their time posting on its Facebook-like Hub. Relax, she says. If they’re wasting time, their managers will know it.

“You’ll know if that employee’s not progressing and delivering what you want in their job performance,” she says.

[This video clip is excerpted from the Ragan Training session “No guts, no glory: Why you have to be brave to have an intranet that works.”]

2. Make them proud

SAS featured its director of advanced analytic research and development in a video in which he frankly discussed his battle with prostate cancer. (“I had two choices,” he says. “One was to get it out, and the other was die in a few years.”)

But he tells how his work at SAS relates to his cancer. His interests include “choice modeling,” which presents people with scenarios helps them choose alternatives. He had recently learned that a urologist at UCLA was choice modeling to help patients understand patents their options in prostate cancer treatment, benefiting them and their doctors.

“Look around your company and find people that are doing miraculous things” that you can highlight, Lee says.

3. Highlight family connections

SAS has found that family-oriented content humanizes the company and wins fans. SAS posts a “Where are they now?” series of mini-features on kids who have gone through the company’s on-site day care and are now adults.

Another feature, “All in the Family,” offers quick, short stories drawn from a template on families that have several members working for the company.

4. Create holiday-themed promos

SAS boosts its platform with a “Love the Hub” event every year, Lee says. One video featured two employees who met through The Hub. Lee was a little nervous about doing that one—she didn’t want the bigwigs to think it was a dating service.

But the couple cheerfully told how they met over a shared interest in cars, and even related how he proposed on a rooftop. (She says she told him, “Are you kidding me?” He says, “I just took that as a yes.”)

The promo worked. “We had close to 500 people join the hub that day, because it brought it to life,” Lee says.

5. Animals sell

At SAS, everybody knows Willie, a guide dog who leads around a SAS employee who develops products for the visually impaired. SAS featured the dog in a Q&A that was released on the same day his master was honored for his work on behalf of the disabled. (The owner filled out the form questions.)

“This story is still our top story at SAS,” Lee says. “Why does Aflac’s duck do so well? It’s animals; there’s some connection there.”

6. Create a ‘Report it’ button

Let staffers suggest stories or offer videos and photos. This goes right into a queue where SAS’s news team can review it.

“They decide what channel it goes to, they assign it to a reporter, and then they dive into it and see what they have to do there.”



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