Enterprises have gone social. They spend big bucks trying to unify their workforce on an internal “social” platform in the name of collaboration or productivity. The idea is, if people can share so much information and collaborate so closely on Facebook or Twitter in their personal lives, that should translate to an enterprise social platform in their professional lives. Right? Not exactly.

Businesses are adopting these social networks for the workplace left and right. The number of “full-suite enterprise social platform subscribers” is on pace to reach 535 million by 2018, up from 208 million in 2013, a Frost & Sullivan report shows.

Adoption is not the issue, figuring out ways to increase employee engagement is. A 2014 Altimeter Group report shows that of 55 enterprises surveyed, 64% had deployed a collaboration platform like SharePoint, IBM Notes or Jive. Further, 18% of the remaining respondents said they had to plans to deploy one of the tools. However, of those 64%, less than half saw “many” employees engaged on the platform.

Experts on the topic argue that enterprise social networks are failing to gain traction in a lot of cases because of workplace culture and lack of leadership support. This Forbes article from last year details how members of senior leadership can drive engagement just by participating on the enterprise social network themselves. While we at Zunos agree with this opinion and appreciate the data, we believe there is another major actor in play that is stifling enterprise social networks.

That is, these social networks are simply too social.

Social Platform v. Curated Content

One major difference between massively successful social networks like Facebook , and the networks businesses use to connect their employees is the audience.

Consumer social networks capitalize on letting users send bite-sized pieces of content out for hundreds, thousands or millions of people to see. While that works well for family and friends scrolling through feeds of photos, it often falls flat in the workplace.

Most of the information shared in a broad context on enterprise social networks is just noise for the majority of people in the organization. When employees have to wade through that noise to find the few pieces of information that pertain to them, it leads to frustration and ultimately drives users away from engaging on the platform at all.

Instead, they go back to using email or other familiar applications to collaborate. Eventually, what was supposed to be a platform abuzz with productive staffers goes all but silent.

Enterprise social networks could be more effective if they would incorporate a different strategy – farming out bite-sized pieces of content to those who benefit from that information.

In other words, instead of asking your staff to navigate a broad, all-encompassing social network, ask them to engage with smaller chunks of curated content.

When employees are given a tool that blocks out excess noise and unnecessary information, they are able to hone in on what really matters - the things that empower them to do their job better. Tools like that result in more productivity and success for the individual employee and a better return on investment for the employer.

That's the kind of tool that will drive engagement. That’s the kind of tool that makes real business sense. That’s the kind of tool people will use.

 

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