We were on a conference call this morning with a technology partner discussing some of the problems we are seeing with customers around social adoption, and the best practices we see as essential to helping our customers change their culture and habits to match their social collaboration goals. As organizations attempt to understand the usage patterns of end users within their enterprise social collaboration platforms (I'll use Yammer as the primary example), one important data point to pay attention to is the value that social influence plays in driving adoption and engagement. Having launched and managed many Yammer networks, the ones that have the highest level of participation and value are those that leverage the network's influencers to constantly stir the pot, and keep people engaged.
Not surprisingly, the key to successful social collaboration is not technology, but people. For those of you who remember the old Bulletin Board Services (BBS) of yesteryear, that technology was anything but social -- and yet people used what they had to connect, share, and collaborate, usually with one or more people at the helm to answer questions, direct traffic, and keeps things moving along. The exact same principles apply to getting your employees socially engaged, no matter what tool or platform you adopt.
In the SharePoint space, we sometimes refer to these influencers as "Power Users" not just because of their heightened permission levels or more in-depth knowledge and activity on the platform, but because these are the people who help support your platform at the grass roots-level. Influencers explain features to other users, they help trouble shoot problems, they are much more meticulous in helping to define and document new feature requests, and they are instrumental in helping the masses understand the priorities of platform development and expansion. If you are building out a new SharePoint environment, knowing who your Power Users are can be as essential -- or even more essential -- than having a full staff of administrators (I'm going to tweak some people for suggesting that), because Power Users are the key influencers in your organization who will test what you build, create and edit documentation, provide feedback, help define your future roadmap and prioritize feature development, train peers, and communicate each step of the change process. In short, you want to know who your Power Users and influencers are, as they are key to your social enterprise collaboration success.
Do you know who your influencers are?