When companies ask me how to deliver enterprise social software adoption, my advice is simple: Go to your local drugstore.
Walk into any drugstore in America and whether it's Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, CVS, or an independent, I can guarantee you it's laid out the same way: The pharmacy is in the back of the store.
The marketers who develop drugstore planograms know that the pharmacy customer is a captive customer. If you walk into Walgreen's for Zoloft, Zyrtec, or Zyprexa, you will fill that prescription. By locating the pharmacy far from the entrance, drugstores force you to walk past a vast array of other items that you may not have come in for: magazines, candy bars, greeting cards, shampoo, toothpaste, and even groceries. While you're in the store, why not pick up AAA batteries and a few chocolate easter eggs for the kids?
The same principle applies to enterprise social software.
If you want your colleagues to try enterprise social software, you must get them in the door. Every organization has its "prescriptions", information or transactions which employees need on a regular basis. If you make your social software implementation a place--better yet, the place--to fill those prescriptions, you greatly increase the likelihood of its adoption long after the hype and hoopla of the initial launch has faded.
What prescriptions do your colleagues need to fill on a regular basis? The answer depends on the nature of your business. Here are a few good, generalizable examples:
- Product information. Elsevier and Getty Images post product specs, FAQs, pricing, and marketing collateral that their Sales Reps need to sell a rapidly changing product line
- Transactional systems. American Hospital Association and NYU Stern School of Business have integrated transactional systems and forms into their Social Intranets
- Ongoing operations. Epitaph Records and Meredith Publishing manage marketing and promotional campaigns in collaborative workspaces
- Customer solutions. OSISoft and GT Nexus maintain the technical knowledgebases required to support their enterprise customers
These are very different use cases in very different businesses, but they have two things in common. First, they fill prescriptions. They deliver must-have content and functionality that a broad cross-section of staff need on a regular basis. Second, they lead to other "purchases". Users who initially show up to submit a Help Desk ticket or look up a price quote often find themselves staying to post an idea or upload a slide deck.
Once social software fills your colleagues' prescriptions, they'll use it...again and again.
Warning: Side-effects may include euphoria, cross-silo collaboration, engagement, ideation, decreased frustration, increased productivity, and intermittent feelings of interpersonal connectedness.