Is CultureSphere the Internal Social Platform We’ve Been Waiting For?

Throughout our research into understanding what is holding back social networking as a business tool, Joab and I keep coming back to the same issue: platforms. In all of Joab’s time in technology and all of my time in PR, we have yet to find an internal social platform that anybody really wants to use.

So it is with high hopes that we are watching the impending roll-out of CultureSphere, which its developers tout as “the world’s first social sharing platform for employee-inspired media.”

My initial reaction to the product pitch is mixed. One part of me is intrigued, and the other part of me has just watched its B***shit Detector go into overdrive. A recent puff piece in Forbes gushes:

Imagine a social media experience that is open only to employees. Employees can post comments, pictures, videos, really anything. Employees from the CEO on down can also see everyone’s comments, respond, “like” comments, and share them all in realtime.

Yes, just imagine that. Wow. Imagine that just like the people at Yammer, Cisco, and Salesforce.com have done. Attention Will Burns and Forbes Editors: the idea of an internal social platform is nothing new, and there are plenty out there, many of which are already pushing up daisies.

The issue with social media in the total enterprise has always been execution. If the benefits of the platform redound primarily to marketing, to operations, or even to the enterprise, millennials (and the rest of us who spend our days on social media), you have given the company a good reason to buy, but you are a long way from getting employees to care, much less use the darned thing.

The product needs to be designed for – and pitched to – the youngest, most junior people in the company first. When they love it, they’ll use it. When you can create an internal social media platform that is so good that you will readily take people away from Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Weibo, you will have created the platform we are all waiting to use.

Details about CultureSphere are still sketchy – they’re in the pump-priming final phases of building market interest in anticipation of their launch in July. But they are walking well-trod ground and bringing high expectations.

It is encouraging to see software developers realizing – well ahead of the market – that social media in business is should be  more than just another means of spewing out marketing messages and sales enticements. But if CultureSphere is going to be more than a re-warmed WebEx® Social, or a super-featured Yammer, it is going to have to deliver a product we are all going to want to use, not just a product our CEOs and CMOs can be convinced to buy.

Show us, CultureSphere.

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The End of Snake Oil

Social media tools can mine data, but do they tell marketers a clear story that allows them to find qualified leads and engage meaningfully?

via Social Media Marketing Tools Aren’t Cutting It.

A Forrester report tells the social media marketing world that what they are doing is not enough.

The smoke clears, the mirrors shatter, and in the end, social media means blessed little unless it drives more business, makes the company work better, or enables the company to better respond to customers.

This is about more than just measurement. It is about stepping back and understanding social media in the context of the entire organization.

Change Management Burn Out: When Social Doesn’t Work

In addition to the M&M barrier (misuse and mis-perception), a second barrier that prevents  social networks from adding real business value is change management burn out.

What Does Burn Out Look Like?

In this scenario, employee participation on internal social sites is actively encouraged, but when the change management barrier rears its ugly head it stops any momentum of business value dead in its tracks.  Employees have a lot of head knowledge about the “strategic importance” of internal social tools, but fail to actively use this knowledge to engage in any actions to use social tools.

The social tools at such companies may be chalked full of content that is at best very transactional in nature (think Web 1.0 organizational charts and dry department materials for down load).  In a worst case scenario, users may even refuse to use the tool at all because legacy file sharing platforms and email are sufficient for their current collaboration needs.

Where Does it Come From?

This change management burn out is typically in companies that have already cycled through numerous “revolutionary” collaboration tools.  In the end, veteran employees (who often hold the most valuable best practices and institutional knowledge in the company) largely opt out of actively using social tools.  They are highly skeptical of both the longevity and legitimate business value of social tools.

Community Question: What Can You Do?

Have you run into this “change management” burn out?  If so, how did you overcome it to add value for your business?