This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.

6 months ago I wrote about enterprise social networking, can it actually work and what place does it have in your average workplace. I spoke about the obstacles that companies face trying to get an enterprise social network off the ground and what could hold it back. 6 months down the line, here is a follow up on how that social platform is doing.

The idea for that piece came from an email I received one morning from a company I work for inviting me to join Yammer, the social media platform of choice for the company in question. They were looking for “power users” to help push Yammer in various departments. Naturally I saw a better opportunity to give my take on it. You can read that article below.

Read: Can Enterprise Social Networks Actually Work?

So, how is that social network getting on? Half a year down the line there should be strides being made and you should see a positive upward curve in participation and engagement. Has this company been able to overcome the problems I mentioned in the article above?

Well I have been keeping an eye on Yammer and its progress so far, unfortunately it has not taken off, far from it. In fact it is kind of like Google+ to be honest, people have signed up yet nobody really wants to participate or get involved and that includes me.

So why don’t people want to jump in and get it going? Quite simple really, for all the reasons I mentioned in my previous article, the hierarchy structure of a company, the terms which a high number of the workforce in this company are employed on, the lack of time and effort being put in to nurture and create a community.

These are all factors relevant to this case, I almost get the impression that there was a belief that people would flock to the service and it would take off. Wrong. Anyone who has worked with online communities, anyone who has built an online community from the ground will tell you about the hard work, the time and the effort that has to be put in to it.

Right now the Yammer page I have open on my desktop is just the occasional post from the endless stream of the same faces from a very very small group of people. This had me thinking, why are the staff signing up at all if there is little intention to use it and with a bit of digging I found the answer. Staff are being told to sign up, they are being told they have to sign up to use Yammer as a cross collaboration tool.

Recently a memo circulated in another department which crossed my eyes (which I obviously cannot show as it would be a breach of confidentiality) instructing certain staff members to sign up to Yammer. This is the biggest problem in my eyes and goes exactly against what a social network is and should be, trying to force it on to people is never going to help gain traction on such a service.

On a personal front people might say, “Mark you are big into social media, you write all this content, why don’t you get stuck in and try to help get it going a bit more as a power user?”

Its simple really, there are enough social media platforms to satisfy my needs and Yammer offers up nothing new, nothing exciting or nothing of substance to get me involved. I would much rather spend my time on other social media networks which are enjoyable. From the staff I spoke to (and I spoke to a lot of them) the reasons are the exact same – they have other social networks, there is a fear of the hierarchy in work, lack of commitment to them from the company.

The only big name that I feel could break through into the enterprise social network scene is possibly Facebook, simply because of the familiarity that people have with the social network service. With Facebook working on their ‘Facebook at Work’ tool it is possible that enterprise social networks could be something popular in the near future.

At the moment there are simply too many obstacles to break through, not enough time to commit to getting it off the ground and six months in – people are flocking to a ghost town. If you are looking to start a social network tool for the workplace, especially a large workplace, you need to think good and hard about it. It takes time, remember not only do you need to provide the tools but you need to nurture and grow the community as well, turn it in to something people want to voluntarily login and use – that is the real challenge.

Again, maybe I will end up being wrong, 6 months right now is simply a milestone marker of progress made. It is possible that the long game will pay off and it will get going, I would be the first to hold up my hands and admit I was wrong. As with anything, you get out of it what you put in.

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here. Or you can drop Mark an email at, [email protected]

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