I use the Corporate Social Network when I'm not working

What is that phrase often used in large companies that have deployed a CSR?

Indeed, the fact is there. Many employees don’t have time to use or don’t see the value in using the corporate social network (CSN). Is it only a question of resistance to change?

Social networks are certainly spaces where one can identify interlocutors, read their publications, exchange, find documents, but the organization of these networks being often complex and empirical, the ‘users’ are put to contribution so that they are obliged to seek by themselves the information which interests them. The conclusion is that the employee does not do it, because of lack of time, lack of energy and because past experience has taught him that he will not easily find the information he needs quickly.


“If I have an operational question about a business process or a deliverable, the social network will show me dozens of individuals who have used the keywords of my search in their profile or in their posts. But does that immediately answer my problem? No. “

We must therefore distinguish two cases:

  1. As soon as the problem requires an immediate response, CSR is often seen as rarely relevant;
  2. When the issue requires substantive work, the CSR is seen as a useful way to search for information and to study documents.

Then there is the question of the relevance of the information collected in CSRs: are the “experts” really experts? Are their articles relevant? Is knowing how to write an article enough to make it valid and especially useful? Do experts respond to solicitations once their articles are published?
Haven’t the editors of corporate social networks been too quick to copy Facebook, with its flaws, thus turning their social platforms into “ego-system” forums, to allow authors to do their personal marketing?
Even asking these questions regularly often provides the answer.

Multiple factors for CSR failure are commonly identified. What are the answers? Will they improve the use of CSRs?


Generation problem

“You are from generation X, you have to learn the codes of the new generations…”

Certainly the majority of employees are not yet from Generation Y, Z or α. However, employees are not too old to use a new tool. Practice shows that if the applications are well thought out and meet a proven and well understood use, all generations use them willingly. Older people are not necessarily the least likely to use new technologies in a professional environment.
Incidentally, the quote in the title of this post comes from, among others, people … from Generation Y.

Change management

“Employees are naturally resistant to change. With the right method and a network of change agents you can make your CSR work.”

Of course, it is possible to convince employees to accept the use of a new means of communication, but if the CSR does not objectively meet their needs and objectives, it will not be used despite all the efforts made – no matter how costly.
Shouldn’t the question be asked “why are some applications naturally viral and not others?”




“We need to add some fun to increase user involvement”.

Gamification is an underlying trend that effectively increases the appeal of content, optimizes retention and creates emulation.
But this can be expensive, as specific content and animations must be planned, challenges must be constantly reinvented, investments must be made in new serious games, etc. Moreover, users can quickly get bored with fun challenges and other interactive quizzes, unless they constantly innovate and invest…

Management involvement

“For this to work, management must know how to impose the use of new tools, especially by setting an example.

Companies are evolving… from now on, the role of the manager is to show the example, not to force the practices. Forced use will always be limited to what is considered compulsory; the tool will definitely lose any playful aspect in the user’s mind.
Some managers lead by example for several months and use the CSR, sometimes even in place of their e-mail, then give up. This has a negative impact on the adoption of CSR by the teams.



Measurement (monitoring)

“For your CSR to work, you need to monitor the indicators

To manage, you have to measure, but you have to measure intelligently.
Measuring “likes” doesn’t mean anything in a professional environment (are we going to criticize a colleague’s publication? maybe, although … and that of a “boss”? more rarely!)
At the very least, the ratio of “likes” to the number of reads should be measured… but nobody does it – too controversial, no doubt.

Some experts suggest setting up dashboards measuring the number of articles produced by each expert, in short, to judge the performance of an expert according to his propensity to write articles. Honoré de Balzac, Emile Zola and Alexandre Dumas were paid on the line… times have changed, let’s be serious!
On the other hand, measuring the number of reads could make sense if we measured the usefulness of the articles (a feature rarely used) and if we asked readers if they managed to access them quickly.


“For your community to work, you must do community management

So … it doesn’t work by itself.
Indeed, it is necessary to animate a community, but one should not confuse the animation of a team with the animation of a CSR. Poor management and team leadership with unclear objectives cannot be compensated for by online social community leadership, except by inflating irrelevant KPIs.
In conclusion: the CSR should not need too much animation if the team is basically well managed and the CSR well designed and integrated.




“For social learning, develop Moocs”

MOOCs are very interesting, because they provide areas of thematic expertise that are naturally quite dynamic. Is it a fad or a real trend?
Again, these are spaces where you go when you have time to address a substantive issue, but never (or rarely) when you want an immediate answer to an operational problem. Be careful, however, because the multiplication of exchange places … kills the exchanges.

How do I go about it?

In fact, analysis of the various feedbacks suggests that the problems encountered with CSRs are essentially related to the “user experience”.

The ergonomics of social networking sites are often still too complex for many users. This is not a generational problem. Publishers need to simplify them… It’s not up to users to invest more time to understand how yet another tool works:

A user interface is like a joke: if you have to explain it… it’s not that good.

The multiplicity of social networks makes the situation more complex. How to manage the “main” CSR with the multiple social functionalities developed by all the editors (repositories (cf. sharepoint, box, …), LMS (discussion thread around training contents…), chat, …)?

Social networks as they are currently designed are more of a forum for experts and do not listen enough to users. They allow (sometimes) to find items but not to meet the real needs of users.

What if the solution was to become “user centric“?