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Facebook for the Enterprise (Urban Myths)

Silver bullets and Unicorns

Well it's doing the rounds so it must be a "Cool" thing to do - we can build a new intranet and make it 'Social'. Lets fill it full of video and image-based content and let everyone bring their own useful stuff.

Firstly trying to get to the bottom of what social is for a company is a rat-hole. For some it's allowing people to "Like" an article (but not unlike or dislike it) for others its "Facebook for the Enterprise".

What everyone really wants is for their people to be engaged and give back.

Well I'm sorry but not everyone wants to, and the company culture has a lot to say about if this will ever fly.

For people looking to add "Comments" on articles, and get people to "Like" the chief-exec's blog I suggest you just update your content management system to something from the last 5 years... and don't expect too much.

For organisations wanting to foster actual Communities, and Communities of Practice you'll need to re-think your approach because its not an intranet project you are about to take on - it's a multi-year cultural change program. Good luck!


For all of you looking at intranet project, there is just one lesson you will need:

A shared place for all your people needs to provide a reason to be there that fits with your organisation

...for those that are deaf here it is in CAPs:


If you don't have good content, people willing (and as a recognised requirement of their role) contributing and some processes to manage/curate it - you can kiss x00k good bye and wonder why (yet again) the intranet project failed.

*Curate being a fancy term for pruning off the bad-bits and knowing when and how to keep the good-bits so people can find them

Quick points

For those that are not quite sure what that means, well...

Key for Social or Community intranets are to recognise is: it’s not Facebook

Whatever you do needs sponsorship, leadership and incentives.

From a practical perspective your Corporate Communities need to set the tone, and be part of a job-description and role hygiene.

You will need people who can

  • provide moderation of key forums

  • shepherding newbies to-and-from appropriate discussion groups

  • sponsored champions who have either internal goals, or bonuses for contribution

  • curate content and great advice (because you want capture and reuse this)

  • peer support and training

  • support content and 'how-to' do things (because you can be sure someone will not know what do)

...or it will die

If you're lucky it'll die quick and you can save-face by claiming it was a pilot or test to see if it's right for you. If not, well... a long lingering decline is not a pretty thing on Community driven intranet.

Oh My! Do you mean it's about People and processes, not the magic of technology?!


Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap-chat - all these things magically appeared? Everyone who had never seen a 'thumbs-up' or 'star' rating before instantly knew what this was... Er no. They happened over a decade plus, and each builds upon th success and failures of the predecessors, and relied on peer-support, public sharing and actively nosy engaged people to drive the community - but the tools allowed it to be seen and picked-up very quickly.

bit like an old-fashioned knitting-circle, with access to global Memes and working at the speed of thought.

Like-something? Yep been around a while. Is 100% of the global population doing this? No. Is 100% of the working western population using this in their own time? Nope.

So be aware you will need support mechanisms and training - even if it's only lite-weight (and I suggest that it is just lite content). Because in an organisation, and company or group, you need to affect:

  1. people - changing behaviours with training, help-resources, sponsorship and job-definitions

  2. practices - building and applying a core of basic rules, guidelines and practices fit for "us"

  3. hygiene - reinforcing this is how you expect you organisation to work; it's got to be non-negotiable (for a while at least)

Unless you are a brand-new sort of organisation, made up of teens and 20-somethings, who only live in Tinder and SnapChat you probably need to put some thought into it before you go for gold.

Avoiding the Bear-trap

If you want to modernise your engagement with the people in your organisation, be prepared.

Understanding what it is you really want - because it's not Facebook.

If communities are what you need, and support from experts and key people who are not readily accessible is what makes the difference - be prepared to take on cultural and people change.

Finally invest in areas that will make your choice of engagement tool (and I'm loathe to call it "Intranet") work

  • Sponsorship

  • Participation (active, supported, mandatory?!)

  • Moderation

  • Curation

  • SME contributors

  • Job-hygiene e.g. contribution targets etc

  • Competition

...then maybe you'll develop a strong Community and Social Intranet

Have fun!

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