Managing demand for a social software environment

May 14th, 2009 by Gia Lyons Leave a reply »

Client: “I’ve got 50,000 employees who want to use this social business software, like, yesterday. How do I get them onboarded in a positive, managed way? It’s impossible, right?”

Not impossible, but it does take some meticulous planning and lots of work to do it right, if my successful customers are any indication.

Here’s an approach that has worked for some of my clients.

Address three key targets in Phase 1 of your rollout:

  1. Strategic people collections
  2. Advocates
  3. DIYers

Strategic People Collections

Identify one or two strategic collections of people and give them most of your love and attention. What makes them strategic? Well, they could be the folks who’re clamoring the loudest, have the most organizational power, or are the easiest to get up and running first.

These people collections – I’m staying away from ‘group’, ‘community’, ‘business unit’, ‘functional team’ purposely here – get all your love and attention. You spend most of your time crafting strategies for promotion, communication, training, and metrics for these folks. A natural by-product is that you can re-use much of this output for subsequent strategic people collections. Yes, this becomes an iterative process, so pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work the first time.


In parallel, spend lots of love and attention on identified advocates, regardless of where they sit in your organization. Equip them to onboard their organizational network, wherever it happens to exist. These people are critical to a positive, rapid and widespread adoption experience. All it takes is one bad advocate to ruin the whole barrel, so be sure you find as many of these folks as possible, as soon as possible. You’ll want to create communication and training strategies for them as well.

Create an Advocate community so they can help one another, and so you have a convenient way to communicate with, train, and provide them with materials all at one time. You’re essentially planting thousands of seeds to grow a vast and thriving garden quickly.

Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers)

Finally, develop a “self serve” approach for everyone who has no patience to wait until you get to them. These are the “let me do it myself, I don’t need no stinkin’ training, get outta my way” folks. But, you know they will need help at some point, so create a thriving peer support community. Find the natural helpers in your organization and create great self-help content that addresses key user scenarios – not just “click here to create a blog” stuff. If it makes sense, include what I call “bridging” help. This is content that helps your peeps map “how I do it now” to “how we do it in this new environment.” Here’s such a thing I created last year for a customer:

Sharing Files in Clearspace from Jive Software on Vimeo.

It’s a lot of work, but you’ll reach your business value lightbulb moment in about six months instead of 12 this way.


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