All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Monday, December 3, 2007

5 Facebook Lessons to Improve Employee Engagement in Your Company

So perhaps your company isn't sold on this whole Myspace/Facebook thing. Perhaps they've dismissed it as a fad for young people, much like how the Internet had been dismissed when it first exploded over a decade ago. You may even be hearing the familiar concerns around "lost productivity" and "control of content" that you heard during the explosion of the Web.

Few today would argue that the Internet is a fad or that it's not important to an organization. But the Internet from 10 years ago is not today's Internet. Today's internet is all about collaboration. Sure there is a lot of over-inflated hype in web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 but there are underlying truths you can benefit from.

Today, according to Forrester, over 60% of Internet traffic is considered User Generated Content (UGC). This is not a "revolutionary" event. It didn't happen overnight. It's simply an alternative means to communicate and collaborate that can be more efficient in some situations. IS it Facebook? No! I sure hope not! But the underlying concepts that Facebook and similar environments have created can teach us several lessons in employee engagement. Lessons that will help your company be successful.

These concepts can be applied to your corporate applications or portals. In fact they can be applied outside of technology into your processes and meetings to drive employee engagement and collaboration. In this post, I've listed 5 Facebook lessons for your corporate consideration.


No two Facebook profiles will be exactly the same. This is because your profile is unique just like you are. In Facebook, the world revolves around you. It's your friends, your applications, your feeds, your notes, your wall, your profile that everyone else connects to. This level of personalization isn't just an "ego fix" (although that's part of it). It drives efficiency. With all the websites on the Internet, you are never going to see them all, nor would you want to. We often hear about how the Millennials spend so much time on the Internet, which there is some truth to, BUT it's only on a few select sites. These sites cater to the individual needs giving them ONLY what they need (and perhaps a few ads!).

Can you see how an employee might benefit from having everything at their finger tips? And don't forget the "human" piece. Companies often say, "you matter" but then only communicate in a "mass communication" or "form letters" that treats you like everyone else. Extreme personalization caters to the individual.


In a previous blog, I commented on a Forrester finding that showed only 10% of the knowledge you need, as an information worker, is actually acquired through formal training. The 90% is actually sourced ad-hoc and developed via collaboration. The speed of commerce is simply too fast, to formally learn things. And the cost to deeply understand is often outweighed by the realities that knowledge has a shelf life! Agility in how we get information, how we share information, how we add applications, are all concepts that your teenager understands and employees could benefit from. Are the Millennials different than every other generation in regards to agility? I don't think so. I think the difference is we've been told over-and-over that it just takes time. So we accept it. Even though it's not true.

3. FUN

Can work be fun?! Absolutely. Unfortunately, we've taken the fun out of work often because on misconceptions around productivity. "Don't waste time chatting! Get back to work!" I find it funny (funny peculiar) how we as Enterprise 2.0 practitioners are asked to justify ROI for social media but nobody asks us to show them the ROI on taking that client to the hockey game or what's the ROI of that golf game? We know people collaborate best because of relationships. Not just business clients. ALL people. Yes, even our employees! If you treat employees as machines don't expect any breakthroughs or creative thoughts. Machines are not capable of that.


Surprise! You are more likely to believe your friends than you are corporate advertising. Forrester also did some recent surveys that show Trust in Corporate Advertising is at an all-time low! Adding social elements to applications, processes, meetings, improves relationships and ultimately trust. Trust is accelerated by the informal. By the, "So how did your daughter do in that soccer game?".

Can you create ways for employees to converse amongst themselves around business messages and still yield productivity results and maintain focus of the message? Yes! In fact, I would argue, you'd be surprised that the employees might even know the message better than the executives if given a chance.


Facebook would be pretty boring if you were the only face on it. The ability to connect with people, and provide opportunities for self-organization are core. In a past post, I talked about the engagement factors (motivation, opportunity, capability) and Facebook gets it. It's fun and respects the individual. It feeds our ego centric curiosity and we're motivated for more. It's open to anybody. You can leverage "spare moments of time" to update your status and read your aggregated news feed. You have the opportunity. And it's simple! You don't spend time reading the manual to use Facebook. Everyone has the capability.

Ultimately, this allows people to interact and collaborate. In a corporate setting, I would suggest you add some direction to the area you need to focus on, but maintain the elements for engagement.

Theses are my 5 key lessons from Facebook. If you want to read more about lessons from Facebook, take a look at this good post by Derek Abdinor, "Facebook: 10 lessons for the Enterprise".

I know we apply these when designing social applications. What other lessons can you think of that can be applied to a corporate setting?


Anonymous said...

Good Points!

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