Boosting your Business Performance through Social Networks

Recently a LaunchPad Media client asked our advice on which Enterprise Social Network (ESN) she should consider using for her Associate community.

For those new to the term ESN, put simply, it is when organisation's adopt a social media approach internally and/or externally to connect individuals. 

With a passion in this area and from my time working with the awesome IECL and SWOOP Analytics teams I picked up some learning which I thought it would be worth sharing more broadly.  

So, to begin with, which ESN is right for you?

Firstly, if you’re looking to decide on an ESN, I would recommend asking / researching what your key clients are using. If you decide on using the same platform as them you can easily create an external group with them in Yammer and Workplace by Facebook to foster more collaboration and less long email chains! SWOOP did this very effectively. 

For large corporate enterprises, I’d recommend Yammer or Workplace by Facebook. I recently was part of a SWOOP community using both networks. On reflection, I would say that Workplace is on the rise and has the momentum. Although it’s part of the larger Facebook family, it seems to still have a start-up can do attitude and agility. I’ve found on the other hand, since Microsoft took over Yammer it hasn't been updated as much. You can read more about the differences and similarities here 

If you’re a team looking to maximise your productivity, I would recommend using Basecamp or Slack.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of project management tool Basecamp which fosters collaboration and Enterprise Social Networking. My LaunchPad Media Co-founder Zoe and I used this very effectively whilst building the business. The to-do list function kept us honest and accountable, the instant messaging campfire provided a place for us to share articles and social posts and we kept a document folder for each of our client groups. Through using this for IECL’s Community of Coaches we kept a schedule of upcoming professional development webinar calls and engaging message threads on the topics to help embed the learning. 

I haven't had firsthand experience of Slack but have heard great things about it for enhancing collaboration within teams. You can read more about Basecamp and Slack here. 

For those looking to keep it simple, and not have yet another login for their user community you can create a private LinkedIn or Facebook Group. I’ve found this is great for sharing articles, events and conversing but has limited functionality for deeper engagement and any project management.

Once you’ve selected an ESN for your business/customer community, how can you build a thriving, engaged community?

Five tips from my experience of building engagement and community in ESN's:

  • Have a clear purpose for creating one and articulate this
  • Think of the WIIFM (what's in it for me) factor when communicating to your members
  • Provide a training session / technical support for your users so that is not a barrier to entry
  • Create a reason for people to go inside the community I.e. That's the only place they find out about monthly updates / professional development sessions
  • Embrace the transparency and openness of the platform – I wouldn't recommend using too many private groups as SWOOP explore here

Embracing ESN’s enables a competitive advantage for businesses looking to create an engaged, empowered virtual workforce. 

For those interested in learning more, a couple of recommended reads:

  1. ‘Rework’ - Written by the ’37 Signals’ Basecamp Founders which is very insightful for those looking for a more productive way to work.
  2. SWOOP 2017 Benchmarking Report - The report compiled by SWOOP’s Chief Scientist, found business outcomes improved as an organization’s ESN matured, linking a successful ESN to a successful business.

We would love to hear your experience of ESN’s and any tips that have helped you build engagement within your online communities.

Written by Dani Matthews

LaunchPad Media Principal and Digital Personal Branding Specialist