Any change comes with reluctance - and so will the implementation of an enterprise social network (ESN) project.

These objections are natural. Why change after all?

If you are in charge of the deployment of an ESN project, a group leader, a project facilitator or a project ambassador, here are some of the most frequent objections you will have to face before, during or after the deployment of the project.

  • I don't have the time (I already have enough to do)
  • It was better before
  • I don't feel comfortable contributing
  • Nobody is going to work anymore
  • There will be excesses, which will require restraint...
  • Just another tool
  • I already have whatsapp, slack, teams, ...
  • Nobody's going to use it
  • They won't make it
  • We can't figure it out, there's too much information
  • There are too many notifications, making too much noise and causing distractions

#1. I don't have the time (I already have enough to do)

This objection often stems from a misunderstanding of what an enterprise social network is. Often associated with mainstream social networks, some may think - or have experienced in the past - a social network synonymous with chat or content that is not really relevant to work.

The corporate social network should not be something that comes "on top" but as a replacement for other practices, with the desire to make them more efficient.

In response to this objection, we invite you to:

#2. It was better before

The nostalgic attitude is a classic in a process of change.

Listening, understanding, giving meaning, helping in the implementation of new practices ... are good practices.

Here again, we invite you to:

Use a network of ambassadors to get in touch with each person and make sure they understand the system and encourage their first steps.

#3. I don't feel comfortable contributing

An enterprise social network changes everyone's relationship to information. From proprietary, private, shared information through an email box, confidential by nature, information shared on a corporate social network becomes more visible, exposed, sometimes to hundreds or thousands of people.

Beyond the inequalities specific to each individual in the mastery of online expression, most often written, there are many factors that can be real barriers to participation. Paradoxically, companies are quite happy to identify all the abuses that could take place on a platform of this nature, but the number one risk is in fact ... that nothing happens, that employees censor themselves too much, that they are afraid to contribute/share.

To stimulate participation, here are some good practices:

  • Give legitimacy to the platform by making your approach official. Your members will thus know that the invitation they receive to the service is an official request.
  • Create a security framework that authorizes participation. Invite the sponsor of the initiative, if possible the head of the organization, to present the project, set out his vision and expectations for sharing and participation on the platform. In organizations where expression was often limited to executives, this security is all the more necessary to allow everyone to express themselves.
  • Position the social network in relation to what is currently existing, to allow each one to identify its purpose, its specificities and its differences compared to other tools. Highlighting the specific use cases where the enterprise social network is legitimate.
  • Ensure that each group deployed on the platform is well described/presented. Group managers must be made aware of the quality of the content and exchanges within their group.
  • Encourage managers to join the scheme, and to be exemplary in their use (i.e. to be regular contributors themselves).
  • Make the social network a place where benevolence is expressed and where participation is encouraged and valued, especially in groups open to large audiences. If necessary, provide coaching to people who do not respect these principles.
  • Use a community of ambassadors to organize individual interviews with 15 to 20 people each, within 6 months of the launch. This ensures that no one is left out and - at the very least - that we have checked the situation and taken the time to reassure everyone.

Be patient!

Everyone's participation will require more time in organizations with a strong hierarchy. Participation also depends very much on the nature of the groups. In an information sharing group, it is natural to have few speakers.

Finally, participation can take simple forms such as a "like" or a comment. As the saying goes, "participation is key."

#4. Nobody is going to work anymore

This objection most often stems from a misunderstanding of what an enterprise social network is. More often than not, the person you're talking to makes a quick jump between their perception of a social network like Facebook and what a social network is in a business context.

If it is not forbidden to develop on your platform entertainment spaces or interests that are not work-related (the Runners group for example), however, your collaborative platform must be used above all to carry out the missions of your teams and the entire organization.

Correctly deployed, starting from the first groups focused on real issues of information spread and circulation, in support of your projects, your social network will quickly take on a professional tone that will make your critics forget their comparisons with other media.

#5. There will be excesses, which will require restraint

Here again, this is often confused with "general public" social networks which are, by nature, very open and where everyone can say and do what they want, within the limits of user conditions and by engaging their own or fictional identity.

On a corporate social network, not only is everyone identified, but participation is limited to groups that have been opened (and that the organization will initially start them). This risk of drift is extremely limited and very few situations require content withdrawal or moderation.

As written above: the risk of non-participation is much greater than the opposite :)

#6. Just another tool

Certainly, the enterprise social network brings one more solution in an already crowded work environment, sometimes saturated with tools.

Between business tools, team tools, corporate tools, personal tools, document sharing tools, communication tools, emails, ... To answer this objection, we invite you to:

  • Explain how the enterprise social network aims not to add to but to replace, simplify and substitute for existing tools in the company, to facilitate the life of your employees.
  • Make sure not to duplicate tools for the same use case. For each group that you deploy on your social network, make sure that it simplifies an existing one and, if necessary, replace and simplify several existing tools.

#7. I already have what is needed (whatsapp, slack, teams, ...)

It is obvious that the person you are talking to hasn't heard of Talkspirit yet.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and everyone - in the absence of an organization that imposes or proposes relevant tools - organizes their work in their own way, in conjunction with their team, to meet their needs. Sometimes, this is by using free solutions within the scope of consumer services, without worrying about their hosting, security and respect for personal data (so-called "Shadow IT").

Having everything you need or thinking you have everything you need is one thing, yet contributing to and participating in a collective project using the tools chosen and deployed by the organization to "network" and thus develop "collective intelligence" is another. To respond effectively to such objections, it will be necessary to target use cases for your social network that are not already addressed by other solutions and in the case where these solutions exist, clarify or impose the one chosen to avoid creating confusion and leave it up to the user to decide what is best for him.

This is a unique opportunity for you to clarify the list of tools recommended by the organization, and those that are prohibited. A unique opportunity to put an end to Shadow IT.

There are often multiple initiatives deployed in the organization. We recommend that you start your project, if possible, on use cases or themes where there is a real need for teams that are not yet equipped. 5% of your workforce already uses a messaging system? Start with the 95% who have nothing. The more use cases you deploy, the more values in the content and in the relationships made possible on the network, the more you will federate and eventually bring other project or initiative leaders to join you.

#8. Nobody's going to use it

Unlike a personal tool (that the user can choose alone) or a team tool (usually chosen within a certain team consensus), the deployment of an enterprise social network and its success depends on a number of rules and therefore decisions at the organizational level.

In the past, everyone has been able to experiment with an enterprise social network that was launched with no other instruction than "if people use it, then we'll know we need it". Many people have gone there on their own initiative by starting a group and have invested energy to get others on board, ... a lot of effort has been invested by enthusiasts and, ...

Unfortunately, failure has almost always occurred when there was a lack of vision to present and position the platform, the support and exemplary nature of the managers, a reflection on use cases, groups useful to everyone, decisions on the choice of tools, in short, ... a minimum of framing. After the enthusiasm at the start, the momentum has often waned rapidly. The platform then turned into a graveyard of uninteresting groups and many enthusiasts were lost in the battle.

Let's make it clear: the implementation of an enterprise social network requires governance, a framework, and decisions that the organization must make beforehand if it wants to put all the chances on its side. These are the necessary conditions to succeed in this long and difficult transformation of working methods within an organization rich in talent and personalities with multiple backgrounds, diverse skills and expertise, with very different uses and digital maturity. An enterprise social network is deployed using a top-down approach and then group by group. The enterprise social networks that work best are never the result of luck.

To make your launch a success, we invite you to read the articles in the section Launching a corporate social network project.

#9. They won't make it

Billions of users today regularly use mobile applications, social networks, so why should it be different with a corporate social network? Don't think your employees won't be able to do it.

The best way to overcome this objection is certainly to put the solution in the hands of those who would supposedly be struggling and rely on their opinion.

As time goes by, let's acknowledge that technology tends to fade away, to become "transparent": web services are nowadays more and more simple, ergonomic and easy to handle, without any user manual. Have faith in everyone's ability to grasp them and work on a breakdown of your groups and content that will provide your users with useful information right from the home page (the news feed).

#10. We can't figure it out, there's too much information

An enterprise social network can quickly host a very large amount of content. Each user of your enterprise social network can also join and be invited to a number of groups that deliver a wealth of information on their news feed.

To avoid the feeling of being spammed, here are some tips and best practices:

  • Check with the person you are talking to in order to see if they are a member of groups that are of interest to them. Disabling the "following" of a group or leaving a group means less content on the News Feed.
  • Check that groups provide a reasonable amount of information and limit the number of integrations in a group. Choose a group dedicated to a connector or integration if it is going to produce a large amount of news.
  • Check that the groups are correctly cut and favor a "fine" cut. If you want to cover topics A, B and C with an equivalent number of contents or news for the same audience but are not sure if your audience is interested in all 3 topics, choose a 3 group split. From the user's point of view, whether your platform hosts 10 groups, 100 groups or 1,000 groups, your members only access the contents of the groups they are members of and that they have decided to follow on their news feed. You might as well give them access to information that only concerns them.

#11. There are too many notifications, making too much noise and causing distractions

A corporate social network gives everyone the freedom to share, including features that can result in browser-based, mobile, and email notifications.

You can intervene in 3 different ways:

  • Teaching on the use of notification generating functionalities
  • Help the user to set up his notifications correctly
  • Prompt the user to set the "right to log off" options (outside certain time slots and/or on weekends)

In the first case, do not hesitate to intervene and coach on a reasonable use of the following functionalities: individual or group @ mentions, assignments, messages defined as important, personal publications, personal chats.

In the second case, explain to your users how to handle their notifications and, if necessary, how to set up a "mute" mode on the chat, to stop following a group or to interrupt the reception of notifications for a limited period of time or on a recurring basis.

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