Are Enterprise Social Platforms All Talk?

To get the most from corporate knowledge-sharing tools, encourage users to engage with more content, not just build their personal brand.

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The widespread shift to remote work has made organizations increasingly reliant on digital collaboration platforms that enable employees to work together, manage projects, solve problems, and share knowledge. But these tools’ effectiveness in practice is often limited by how participants use them.

The conventional wisdom, based on previous research, suggests that a lack of contributors is what limits the value of these platforms. However, we observed a strong tendency for users to post content rather than read content created by others. Our findings indicate that it’s not the lack of contributions but lack of engagement with the knowledge contributed by others that restricts the potential of these tools.

The issue may stem from norms set by public social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. The social-networking features of enterprise platforms appear similar to those on consumer-focused sites, but the objectives and desired behaviors are considerably different. While public social networks emphasize the interests of individual users, for enterprise networks, the goal is creation of a knowledge-sharing community.

Most participants on enterprise social platforms, we find, contribute promotional content that is designed to enhance their own image and reputation but adds little value to the organization and its goals. What’s more, too much self-promotion may hinder efforts to cultivate a knowledge-sharing organization, as it alienates users who do want to engage with others.

Relying on traditional engagement metrics, such as counting the number of posts and page views, can easily overlook users’ behavioral differences. It can create the false impression of a vibrant platform while obscuring the types of behaviors that dominate. If enterprise networking tools are to achieve their goals, managers need to look more closely at how employees interact with them.

Our research advances an alternative approach that managers can use to assess the behavior of participants and to build a truly vibrant knowledge community. We identify four distinct user types — accelerators, broadcasters, champions, and observers — and the motivation for each. We then offer guidance for how managers can work with each user type to help harness their diverse motivations and better align the network with the organization’s knowledge-sharing objectives.

How Employees Really Use Collaboration Platforms

Our study of 359 users of a digital collaboration platform in a multinational organization reveals four distinct usage patterns and motivations for posting and reading content.



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Comment (1)
omar ferrer
Un aspecto importante a considerar que los Lideres  Gerentes de las diferentes Departamentos o Gerencias trasmitan y compartir con sus subordinados la informacion sobre las diferentes plataformas de colaboracion digital, e  incentivar la participacion de sus subordinados, y hacerle un seguimientos y medicion de sus aportes y contribuciones.