10 Ways to Engage Employees on Social Business

Social business transformation enables organizations to be more cost-effective and be more customer-centric and be able to engage –better- with all stakeholders. To enable social business success, you need bottom up empowerment and top-down commitment, in other words, co-creation. To be more customer-centric, you need to start with the internal stakeholders, your employees.

The 10 ways to engage employees on social business benefits, value and success according to Debra Donston-Miller on InformationWeek:

1. Don’t create more work. If employees feel like you are adding another hoop for them to jump through, they are going to be understandably reluctant and maybe even resentful. Social business technology and processes should be integrated into the existing employee experience, not implemented as a separate (and perhaps redundant) pathway.

2. Show them the money. It’s hard to argue with cold, hard facts — especially when cold, hard facts relate to cold, hard cash.

“It’s crucial to educate naysayers on how social can be tied to ROI — both internally and externally,” said Karen Feder, online marketing manager at Webtrends, a digital intelligence company. “The key is to show tangible evidence using examples of how other organizations are using and have used social media successfully.”

3. Make it personal. It’s important to provide metrics on how the embrace of social business can help the company, but let’s face it: We all want to know what’s in it for me. To help get employees on board, let them know how social can make their jobs easier and provide new opportunities for them to hone their personal brands.

4. Provide training. Some of your employees will have grown up on Facebook and Twitter, and for them, social business will make total sense. At the other extreme, some employees will have never Liked, or Tweeted, or +1’ed a day in their lives.

5. Identify enthusiasts. Enthusiasm for social networking technology can be contagious, and social business success begets social business success. It is therefore critical to identify the social business enthusiasts in your midst and to give them wide berth to do their thing and show their stuff. “Another thing we’ve done is to try to push against open doors — and by that

6. Trumpet social successes. As employees begin to expand their use of social business tools, be sure to call out their successes. Where should you do this? Where else? On the company’s internal, and in some cases external, social channels. This will create a kind of positive Catch 22. “Trumpet successes with social as a way to model new behaviors and practices,” said McCarty.

7. Make it a job requirement. Of course, people tend to care a lot more about something if their jobs depend on it. You need to tread carefully here — you don’t want employees feeling forced. However, it is a good idea to incorporate specific mention of “effective use of social business tools” — or something to that effect — into the communications section of employee evaluations.

8. Measure so it matters. Speaking of evaluations, you need to be sure that you are evaluating what is and is not working with your social business initiative, and that you are sharing that data with employees. Only then will they be able to understand what moves the needle and how their role is related.

9. Be patient. Employees will not become experts, or converts, overnight. For many employees, social networking is a huge cultural shift. The willingness and effectiveness with which they use social business tools depends on age, experience, whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert and a host of other issues.

10. Listen and learn. Those missteps we just mentioned? They will happen; it’s almost guaranteed. The important thing is that you give employees a forum for reporting what’s gone wrong and why, and that you then use that information to make changes for the better.

Click here to read the full elaborations on all 10 ways.


Continuous data flows and insights can add more work than perceived benefits by employees. Therefore I advice to look at the concept of “Cooperative Intelligence”:

Don’t inundate people with too much information, just what you know is important to them.

This is key and this is where skills, processes and technology will help employees to digest only that what is important to them in  the quickest and easiest way. To achieve engagement and involvement, you need to therefore make it personal, applicable to their role.

A way to start small, co-create, share successes and learnings, indeed identify enthausiasts and take a business-centric three step process to ensure social business integration success:

  1. Understand the business needs and objectives
  1. Define a few targeted pilot projects to test and validate the opportunities. This approach offers a low risk way to confirm the real opportunity and organizational readiness. The pilot process is highly iterative and fully engages involved professionals. The outcome of the pilot projects will provide the necessary insights and business case to support a well-informed decision to progress with integrating technologies in the organization or not.
  1. Define and execute the program to integrate solutions.

The benefits of this 3-step process  are higher speed, lower risk and a better outcome versus traditional IT implementation processes. Furthermore, this approach promotes sharing and collaboration and leads to a better mutual understanding among the team members of their respective missions, goals and needs.

Cultural adaptation is needed to make sure social business will be adopted and effectively used to achieve organizational objectives. Don’t understimate this aspect, sustainability depends on leadership and culture, otherwise regression will kick in and won’t last, therefore not being effective investments.