How McGraw-Hill’s social intranet engages 26,000 employees

The finance and education company offers valuable tips on how to create a social intranet your employees will use and love.

What could help a huge corporation such as McGraw-Hill operate more efficiently, connect global offices, crowd-source ideas, and develop products?

A Facebook-like social intranet did the trick, says Patrick Durando, senior director of global new media.

But don’t tell your executives that. Instead, tell them the story of how one employee met with a client, figured out the client’s biggest issue, “tweeted” it internally, and received 25 answers across all departments on his cab ride back to the office. That’s what a social intranet can do, Durando says.

Durando shared how McGraw-Hill’s social intranet, Buzz, became a practical tool for collaboration in a presentation at‘s BlogWell conference in New York.

Here are some tips:

Lightning-fast lateral connections get stuff done.

The company’s social intranet did what email couldn’t do. It opened collaboration and communication across physical, hierarchical and departmental boundaries. Employees in California and Argentina answered complicated questions for a colleague in the United Kingdom, and employees learned about and commented on new company policies from a blog.

Expertise can shine.

As people began to contribute to the social intranet, it became clear there was some untapped expertise. With searchable experience in everyone’s profiles, colleagues could find help from the people who had the expertise. Even better, that content could live on in the social intranet even after the employee left the company.

There’s a place for the water cooler.

McGraw-Hill had no problem with people making the social intranet experience personal—the company encouraged it. The company believed soft social interaction helps employees become comfortable with contributing to the bigger stuff.

However, when pictures of pets became more viral than bright business ideas, the company had to make a distinction. That’s why Durando suggests establishing a place within your social intranet for water-cooler topics.

You can see Durando’s presentation here:

Andy Sernovitz is the author of “Word of Mouth Marketing.” A version of this article originally appeared on SmartBlog on Social Media.

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