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SMiLE London 2016: Realizing the power of the social network

Joanne McCarthyJoanne McCarthy·
SMiLE London 2016: Realizing the power of the social network

SMiLE London is one of Team Newsweaver’s favorite annual conferences.

Based on social networks and collaborative platforms, this year was its eighth year in action, and five of us here in Newsweaver made the trip to London for it. The informal, interview-style format by Marc Wright of Simply Communicates lends itself well to a fun, exciting and dynamic event. (With lovely food. No review of Smile would be complete without giving a nod to the food. Thank you etc venues. The 11am smoothies in particular were much appreciated.)

Featuring 480 minutes of interviews, presentations, case studies, Q&A, table sessions and exhibition, some of Smile London 2016’s highlights included:

  • An insightful presentation on the state of the Enterprise Social Network industry from Michel Ezran and Bastian Le Lann of research company Lecko. Ezran and Le Lann have examined every social intranet and collaborative platform on the market, and were able to identify key developments in the industry. They spoke of the huge benefits of digital collaboration. One interesting point to note was that only 25% of managers use an ESN daily, even though 58% of companies have one
  • A case study from Jenny Varley and Dee Gosney of HSBC, who spoke of how they wanted to crowdsource employee content rather than push out polished values videos in order to restore employee trust and enable every employee to become a video producer
  • An overview of Unibet’s use of Jive. Unibet has increased its Jive participation level by 41%, to an active user base of 90%
  • A demonstration of virtual reality from Paolo Tosolini. Paolo’s interactive demos in the breakout area proved great fun throughout the day
  • The latest research into the impact of ESNs on behavior, engagement, work relationships and individual and collective performance, by John Smythe of Engage for Change. He spoke of practices that enable enterprise social networks to be a liberator rather than a burden, and of developing workplace cultures to attract millennials, who will not tolerate command and control
  • A presentation by Tereza Urbankova of AMEC Foster Wheeler on engineering a world class intranet in order to create a new digital workplace.

Table sessions

One of the key themes of the conference was the adoption of social platforms, and with that in mind, our own Ann Cronin and Mossy O’Mahony each hosted a table session to discuss driving adoption and engagement of ESNs. We always find these table sessions very insightful and engaging, and while we love sharing our own expertise and facilitating the discussion, it is hearing other people’s experiences that really resonates. Our table sessions were very well attended and sparked plenty of lively discussion.

So what are the most effective ways to encourage employees to adopt and make use of social networks? What experiences have people had with it?

Mossy and Ann shared five simple steps with their table session attendees (courtesy of our Product Manager Eoin Cotter):

  1. Understanding is key

It may sound obvious, but it’s crucial to understand why it is that your organization is investing in an enterprise social network. Is it to engage remote workers? Is it to foster collaboration? This objective will inform how you go about promoting adoption to employees.

  1. Get your leaders on board

If your senior leaders are on board and contributing, then the rest of your employees will likely follow suit.

  1. Identify champions

Successful social implementations are driven by enthusiastic champions. Find some eager and willing workers who will evangelize adoption to their peers.

  1. Incentivize action

Getting people to access your social network is one thing. But getting them to contribute is another. Why not utilize gamification to reward those who are most active and most responsive? Make the prize worth winning and encourage some friendly competition.

  1. Don’t forget about the three M’s

Measure, measure, and then measure some more! It’s the only way to analyze and prove your success.

Key Learnings

At every conference, a couple of key points always stay in your head. After Smile, these were mine:

  • If you are using an ESN, you are more likely to have an engaged workforce
  • Employees in companies that use ESNs are far more likely to be proud to tell others where they work, feel a strong personal attachment to their workplace and want to succeed at the job
  • No matter which channel you use, content is still king
  • User generated content is more successful than formal, management-driven content
  • Don’t be afraid of negativity on your ESN, and don’t assume people will use an ESN as a platform to be negative.

If you would like to learn more about creating a successful ESN, click here to download our best practice guide to making the most of your Enterprise Social Network.


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