by Yoav Demback
SharePoint is a simple and flexible social enterprise platform, but too often it becomes a ghost town because of boring and static content, and the resulting diminished engagement from users. Here are three tips to assure a vibrant community.
The social enterprise has been a big trend lately. In spite of contenders such as Yammer, Jive, and Chatter, SharePoint still has one of the largest installation bases in large organizations. Employees use it as a platform for internal groups to share data, in the form of files and posts that easily integrate with Office.
In theory, it’s easy and simple to use for uploading content. The reality is, SharePoint suffers from the same fate as most enterprise collaboration tools: ghost town syndrome. SharePoint relies on users to upload content, which makes it challenging to keep fresh with visually appealing and relevant live data.
The problem is no one actually spends the time to upload their own content, and it becomes a stagnant social enterprise platform.
A well-known trade secret is that intranet abandonment by users occurs within the first 90 days. Content changes need to be relevant, eye-catching, and engaging. So how do you salvage your big investment?
1. Implement a vertical approach.
One of the biggest mistakes in SharePoint implementations is to think of all the users as one and the same, while ignoring their roles and functions. For any social platform to grow its usage, it's important to break the audience into organic groups that already share information in alternative platforms (cooler conversations, emails, meetings). It’s better to start at the marketing/sales/engineering group level than at the company level where people hardly feel comfortable to initiate conversations or upload their own content.
2. Get buy-in from management.
While grassroots adoption and growth are a nice ideal, the reality is that in the workplace, people take their cues about what’s important and what’s not from management. If the first step is to implement SharePoint at the group level first, the second is to make sure the group manager is on board with the importance of the new social platform and how it should be used within the group.
3. Instead of relying solely on users’ content, embed live relevant content.
Even with management on board and users uploading relevant content, user-generated content is less engaging than the top items published daily on social and traditional media.
A customer that's a large computer security software vendor recently implemented SharePoint as a corporate intranet for its tens of thousands of employees. It took the vertical approach by having different pages for the different functions of the group (marketing vs. HR) and worked with group managers to assure preselected content contributors from each group knew when and what was expected of them as far as content sharing.
Within three weeks of the launch, engagement was going down, as was the content quality shared by employees. When employees were surveyed in regards to their diminishing interest in the intranet site, they said that they expected the content to be as exciting as the content on Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.
The customer decided to change the home page for each group to look more like a Pinterest board. Group-relevant content was pulled from social and traditional media automatically, to match the interests of the group. The implementation was completed within a week to maintain the momentum of the intranet launch before engagement went to zero.
After the implementation, employees were able to view new and trending posts (images, videos, data visualizations) coming from both the relevant vertical media and from social media on a daily basis. Additionally, they embedded data from internal sources such as Google Analytics or Salesforce to show teams their progress in each arena.
In addition, employees were allowed to set real-time group notifications or daily reports to their email that redirected them back into SharePoint for more information. This improved engagement even further.
Yoav Dembak is CEO and cofounder of Colabo, an enterprise data aggregation and analytics tool that enables data-driven decision-making. Through Colabo, marketers, sales people, and operations professionals have a complete picture of the way different external events impact their internal business metrics. A free trial of the tool is available.