Corporate Social Networking Forum

This is the full & final write-up of the #CSNF conference in London on Monday 8th June that I attended.  I liveblogged at the time, and I’ve subsequently started going back through my notes, and added in additional thoughts, edited things down and so on (these latter thoughts are in red).

I spent a day at the Corporate Social Networking Forum in RIBA, which is the Royal Institute of British Architects; what better place to talk about ‘building things’…


After a brief intro from Chairman James Garner, and a spot of speed networking, we’re into the meat of the day…


Suraj Kika, Jadu; “Twitter & The Enterprise 2.0”

Suraj is focussing on Twitter today:

“Twitter is not just one thing, it’s a lot of different things to different people”

From personal communication device to brand monitor… it’s a building block to create applications to subsequently make money from.  How do you create an economy around your content?

“Twitter may be the beginning of a new way of using the web…”


How do you make social media work for brand and business?  There isn’t much of a business case that you can write yet and present to the board up front… until, that is, you can show them the actual conversation. 

I think this means that we should all just get on and do it, and then show people the results; ask for forgiveness, not permission.

This is a theme that reoccured again and again throughout the day… we’re in the middle of such a seismic change in the way the world works, you can’t expect everyone to ‘get it’ immediately, and unfortunately a lot of the people who you need to sign off budgets are loathe to do so without evidence. 

As a result, you may have to just get on and do something ‘under the radar’ first, then show the results to get sign off for the next, bigger project.

Twitter’s good for a business because it’s simple.  Very easy, powerful, real-time marketing.

Twitter of course is low cost, but it takes your time and effort; it’s not like old school marketing that you can just throw money at…

SK relates the story of #amazonfail… from a niche Friday report, to a Saturday Twitter-buzz thing, to hitting the front page of the BBC website on Sunday, to hitting the Amazon share price on the Monday… all the while, the Amazon twitter account (which they had set up) was silent.

Even a company like Amazon isn’t geared to deal with with social media, because of the ‘chain of command’ – an ‘official Amazon statement’ will have to go through the proper channels.  Going through the proper channels, however, days hours, if not days.

One Jadu customer is Lichfield (Staffordshire) district council… all sorts of different council employees sharing news and information, out in the open, via Twitter.  Video from Lichfield speech, by a chap called Stuart Harrison (webmaster @ Lichfield DC).  


Talking about a Twitter management system created for them by Jadu to create a ‘multi-user’ account on Twitter, so if people switch roles or leave an organisation, the Twitter account remains intact.

Jadu make ‘evangelists’ as a marketing strategy (like Stuart) and work with them, get

Suraj’s Final points…

Twitter is about COMMUNICATING… sharing knowledge in real-time.  It’s not about advertising, and it’s not about ‘news’.

“It takes work – you have to ‘get it’ and that takes time.  Then you have to use it (all the time)”

…this is so, so true… just imagine trying to think about how to make a TV ad without EVER having watched TV…

“Using Twitter is not just about Twitter; it’s the first step in understanding what’s happening on the internet”

“People are tweeting already whether you like it or not; if you don’t get to them first, your competitors will”

First mention of the ‘monetise’ question… how will it make money?  Suraj likens Google Wave to ‘where Twitter may end up in five years time’.

Corporate vs. Personal accounts; Suraj has a work profile, a personal profile, and a group Jadu profile that they all contribute to.  There are ways and means to create a Twitter structure to suit your company.

I found Suraj’s presentation very knowledgable and interesting, a great opener.  Their work is starting to showcase what exactly can be achieved by using the building blocks of things like Twitter to create new useful/entertaining/connective things.  It’s the Lego analogy I’ve touched on before.


Niall Cook, Hill & Knowlton, “Corporate Social Networking: Today and Tomorrow”

An overview of three things:

i) why are businesses turning to this NOW, rather than 2-3 years ago

ii) what is it we’re talking about?  what does social networking within businesses mean?

iii) how are companies making this stuff successful (it’s not a box you can ‘buy’)

i) Why Now?

As always, the technology has been around for a while… “but it’s a ‘perfect storm’ of economic, social, cultural that’s driving take up.”

It’s the credit crunch that’s making business turn to social software.

I’m already a huge subscriber to this theory; cost cutting is rife through all departments in companies, not just marketing… so when budgets disappear, what you’ve got to do is try things that are free… and embracing social media in the first instance is about as free as things get.

“In ROI, the ‘R’ doesn’t have to be huge if the ‘I’ wasn’t that much in the first place” – GREAT quote

Internal systems have stopped working.  Email, intranet etc is NOT EFFICIENT.  Email for communications, collaborated etc is not working, as people get absolutely overloaded. 

“Intranets aren’t working because they’re not collaboration tools, they are publishing tools.”

Companies are saying ‘it’s not that people aren’t interested in collaborating (as they use Facebook, Twitter etc), it’s the systems that we’re giving them that aren’t working.

Finally, the people inside our company are changing; people are more mobile, and working remotely more often.  Because our businesses are having to be more flexible (everything from winning new business to legal employment contracts).

Workplaces, businesses, employees… all are changing.  So the systems need to change. 

“Whereas once the CEO was ‘God’, employees now want them to be ‘Guide’…” not the person who tells people what to do, but the person who helps people do what they do best.

Employees now want inclusivity; they want to be involved.  Research shows that the more engaged employees are in the company, the more productive your company will be.

Finally, the digital natives are coming, THIS YEAR.  Gartner research shows that the people coming out from university into ‘manager’ positions are going to start arriving in companies.  Technology is not a ‘box’, it’s embedded into the way they’ve grown up.

ii) What is it, this ‘CSN’?

People need to connect, and share, to make things happen.  If people do things outside organisations, they want to be able to bring this ability inside the companies they work for.

Inside companies, people want to be able to communicate, share and co-operate with each other like they can on the outside.

iii) How do you set about doing it?

Speed & flexibility is now a must.  The old version of IT development within companies is dead; the expectations of employees are immediate, and can’t wait for the six months it takes for an IT dept. to ‘assess a business case’.

Then it’s about ‘ease of use’.  We all say that it should always about ‘ease of use’, yet everyone keeps rolling out hard to use, clunky systems.  Draw inspiration from the GREAT things on the web.

There needs to be demand; ask people what they would like, don’t just give them something and expect them to use it.

Then, deliver something of ‘individual value’ first… that’s how things get started.  People will do it at first if there’s individual benefit.

Finally, your organisational culture MUST be collaborative in the first place… there’s no point putting in a system to a ‘closed shop’ culture.

Here’s the thing: all day long, and when they go home, the people at your company are using fantastic, simple, empowering tools to bring them together with their friends.  They want to be able to do that at work…

These are all big, company changing themes… how people work together, the systems companies use to help that, the cultures that have to change to make that happen.  And because they are such big themes, change is going to have to come from the top, and be continually improved from the bottom.

Robert Johnson, Strategic Consultant, COI Strategic Consultancy: “Managing, controlling and motivating the modern employee

Setting the context for ‘Corporate Social Networking’ from a historical point of view.

Whereas back in the 50s & 60s, employees were just expected to do as they were told… for the last 50 years we’ve been moving to a place where people are expected more and more to innovate for companies; the ‘intrapreneur’.

‘Baby Boomers’ started working in the ‘involve employees’ era of the 70s & 80s, ‘Generation X’ people arrived in the ‘Improve’ era, and ‘Generation Y’ were asked to ‘innovate’.

All three generations have very different characteristics, yet all three together make up an organisation today. 

There’s a great research chart I’ll steal and put up here when the slides are shared.

Robert then looks at the 8 types of people you’ll find in both companies and life generally (taken from the Tom Rath book ‘Vital Friends’: Builder, Companion, Connector, Collaborator, Energizer, Mind Opener, Navigator, and Champion.

I think this Myers Briggs test, in addition to giving you an ‘ENFP’ type profile, will tell you which of these types you are at the end of the test.

Anyway, again it’s highlighting the different sorts of peopel exist across an organisation… there’s no ‘one-size-fits all’ solution.

So, what’s the employee’s role in the future of CSN?

i) recognise that sharing and learning are prized by the organisation

ii) seek out the information themselves

iii) be a good networker

iv) support others

v) be inclusive

vi) be sensitive to commercial boundaries

vii) use technology to add value

viii) consider their work/life balance (and that of others)

Also, think about the communications tools that employees have to share things with:

i) ‘No choice’ (email, phone, blackberry etc)

ii) ‘If I want to…’  (staff mag, flyers

iii) ‘Can find it myself (intranet, team room)

iv) ‘what are other people thinking’… this is the place where the ‘corporate social network’ should live perhaps – it’s not ‘by the company, for the employees’, it’s ‘by us’.

It’s vital to think of these sorts of things when building up a picture of your organisation I think… the difference between generations, the tools they use to communicate, and what you actually want them to achieve by sharing things.


Panel – For & Against CSN

Euan Semple: Consultant, former BBC Knowledge Management Director @ BBC

Dirk Singer, co-founder, Cow

Trish Hunt, Corp. internal communications, Dell EMEA

Defining internal vs external SN systems:

ES: “Your best advocates, and your best marketers, are your staff… So are you representing your company, or your personal life… the boundaries are very blurred”

TH: “If you speak from a company perspective, you have to take on the responsibilities of that… we asked if we needed to put clauses in peoples’ contracts… but it’s about taking responsibility, we don’t think we need all the rules and regulations”

DS: “the arguments about ‘what if people waste their time, talk to friends, speak direct to customers’ were all had about email ten years ago”

DS: “the ’email guidelines’ were set in companies, the same should be set for new forms of communication”

ES: “social networking is fun, but does it add to the ROI of the company… I asked the same question about meetings, but because they are the ‘way things are done’ no one questions it”

ES: “HR is the embodiment of ‘command and control’, backed up by IT and Communications… because these departments have ‘the most to lose’ from a ‘power’ point of view”

DS: “An Australian blogger called Laurel Papworth has posted a list of 40 guidelines for internal social networks…”

If you click on the link, you’ll see that it’s a great resource; Laurel has drawn together the policies from 40 different sets of staff guidelines for how to use social media.  It’s a great resource for anyone wanting to create or refine one.

Good question from the floor… ‘is email dead’?

ES: “email is good… peoples’ management of it is not what it could be”

TH: “email is good for taking time, attaching more rich content etc… “

DS: “my colleagues are using twitter to contact me immediately, as I run tweetdeck in the background of my mac…”

TH: “At Dell, the intranet still exists, but it’s just not being used…

…no interaction, no place for questions… we use the blogs to direct people to the information in the intranet.  Blogs are something we use of a daily basis, internally, by ‘direct to dell’ blogs are the blogs where we talk directly to our customers (and new models come out of that, as do CSR programs etc).

DS: “We’ve created social network platforms for people… and we were sold some fiendishly complicated systems… the key to success is taking cues from the systems people use in their everyday lives”

This is key for people trying to design internal systems… just use the same, simple principles that made facebook, twitter etc a success… don’t try to invent (and complicate) the wheel…

ES: (responding to Google Wave question from audience) “Umair Haque has ten principles from being successful from Twitter that are counter intuitive to ways that we run companies today”

Final point… what’s the key to making a successful social network in companies?

All three – it’s about culture.  If your company doesn’t make people feel that they will be allowed to use the tools because of company protocol, they won’t.


Now, time for a coffee…


At this point, I originally wrote down that one of the big themes of the day was about company ‘culture’… but in hindsight, just boiling all this down into one word feels wrong… it’s MUCH bigger than this. 

Companies, especially those with their roots of creation firmly in the pre-internet age, are hostage to the old, siloed world of hierarchy, department and ‘chain of command’.

People, meanwhile, shifted behaviour to adapt to the new communication tools available because there isn’t an internal communications department who tell you how to talk to your friends at home, or an HR department that tells you who to report into regularly, or even an IT department who tell you which systems online you can and can’t use.

From memory, Charles Leadbeater’s We-Think covers some of this area too. 

I’ll come back to this later… but the overriding thought is that in order to make companies more efficient, we need less rules and regulations… make your company a free idea economy.


Sonia Carter, Head of Online Internal Comms, AXA: “Using enterprise 2.0 for employee engagement and efficiency”

Sonia is going to talk about two projects; one that’s up, and one that was MEANT to be up, but hasn’t yet been built…


This project has its roots in ‘ICE’ – ‘Intensive Customer Experience’.  A day training session that everyone went on, loved… but arrived back at the office , and nothing would really change.  A request came down to change this… “we need blog/forum/wiki”… somewhere to capture and share the enthusiasm from the ICE course.  For 12,000 people to communicate with.

So… AXA (being a typical finance organisation) didn’t have anything like this.  So they started to build an online community for AXA employees to share ideas and opinions.  Partially modelled on ”mystarbucksidea” and ‘dellideastorm‘.

I’ll put some slide images of the site up here when the presentations are shared.

It’s fully based on trust, a big AXA theme; trust in each other as colleagues, and the trust that customers have in the organisation.

There are two key components of the site:

i) OurIdeas – employees post an idea, or comments on existing ideas, and then vote for ideas.  The top three ideas are reviewed monthly by the ‘ambition 2012 steering group’

ii) OurForums – almost a crowdsourced employee handbook… how best to deal with customer issues and the like.

…and all this for a sub-£4k budget to design and launch the site.  OurForums used VBulletin, and OurIdeas used WordPress with additional plugins.

(The project was hidden from IT for the first few months though… because it would have been lost in the previously mentioned ‘year long business case’ issues)

The OurIdeas section is great; not only do you get to put up an idea, people in AXA can then improve on those ideas together (through comments etc), and then the better the ideas are made, the more votes the idea will get… and great ideas are evaluated monthly.

Finally, the light touch regulation of the ‘code of conduct’ has been largely carried over from their phone/email guidelines etc.

I think this a great example of how to create something pretty simple and effective to bring a company together, and crowdsource some ideas that will actually affect how the company runs.  And especially given AXA is a financial services organisation, change must be hard there…

…and to do it for such a low budget is brilliant.  Nice work.


Lee Bryant, Headshift: “Why enterprise 2.0 will help you in a recession”

Good first point – “can we afford business as usual?”  Buying audiences through advertising, large bureaucratic structures and the like are not the way for companies to behave in this day and age.

We can add a social layer to enterprise tools in order to rejuvenate old, loved systems that companies have in place already.

“trust is cheaper than control”

A great statement that encapsulates something about the world of social media that should appeal to every department from HR to comms to finance…

…and of course it makes the things your here more believable than having a ‘corporate news army’…


So how do you make businesses more agile?

The social internet is being powered by evolution, in turn fuelled by ‘rapid feedback’.  Hundreds of thousands look, test and improve systems in the wide world.  Intranets traditionally lack all of this power behind them.  And IT people aren’t traditionally skilled in building user-friendly, constantly evolving systems.

We also need to address business networks.  Companies that adopt an internal social network will be more ‘immune’ to the ‘idea virus’.  The virus will move, down the hierarchy, from person to person in secret (e.g. Enron ‘off the book’ accounting).  Open and transparent social networks help make these viral threats less likely to take hold.


Internal tools are meant to share and use our knowledge more.  We waste the brainpower of people in organisations.  We generate knowledge and insights constantly that we could use to improve the systems in business… yet we don’t use them.  Think about how every Google search slightly refines the next search for that term.

3 things that are good about CSN:

i) 90% of project management is just ‘people’ – where are they, what are they doing, what will they do next.  Internal social networks helps with this.

People power helps organise information, and negotiate meaning.  But opening up the whole conversations, everyone will know what people actually mean, and what they know.

ii) Wiki-style intranet tools allow people to actively contribute to the ongoing project.

(Basically ‘who the people are, what they know, and getting them to build things together)

iii) CSN is currently building a case for investment, especially when peopel start asking ‘what’s next after a 10% reduction in headcount?’ 

Lee then rattled through the synopsis of ‘what to do next’… I’ll grab that from the slides when they arrive.


Thijs Sprangers & Menno Braakman, Krem; “Case studies of creating success with CSN”

Two Dutch fellas… the first guy makes a good point when he asks ‘where’s the LinkedIn mentions?’. 

Krem are believers in ‘blended networking’, which is the mix of face to face contacts with online connections.  They believe that CSN can use the power of networks to make your relations ambassadors, and to make ambassadors valuable in a referral network.

‘Blended Networking’ is a nice concept… the combination of connecting the people online, but also seeing them in real life too.  Anyone can collect hundred or thousands of online contacts, but they’re right, contacts are a lot stronger through ‘blended networking‘. 

It goes back to something Euan Semple said earlier; companies are built on people doing business with other people they trust.

Thare are Three stages to Krem’s process;

i) Strategy & Concept

ii) Implementation & Launch

iii) Growth and Activation

They use a smattering of tools, from Xing to Ning, LinkedIn to Facebook, and adhere to the principle ‘fish where the fish are’; use the tools that people are using already.

I think the ‘fish where the fish are’ is an increasingly important thing to remember… by and large people do, but it’s good to reiterate: It’s really hard to make people join a new network, or sign up to a new service, just for your company.  Instead, put your company into the network they already use.

POST method: People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology (designed by Forrester, at the heart of their ‘Groundswell’ book)

People: Who are the target groups and what is their online participation behaviour?

Objectives: Determine the goals of the community

Strategy: Determine how the chosen goals will change the relationship with the target groups

Technology: Choose suitable technologies, media and functionalities that match the target groups, goals and strategies

I’d not seen this in full before, I quite like it… a clear, simple system.  The guys were going to present three case studies, each at a different stage of this process… but time ran out, so they only got through one, and it was for a company I didn’t recognise so it was hard to get a handle on…

Panel: “How to implement a successful enterprise 2.0 strategy”

Iwona Petruczynik (Frost & Sullivan), JP Rangaswani (BT Design), Olivier Creiche (Six Apart), Zeinab Lenton (Sage UK)

(Disclosure: we put together the Krypton Factor & TrainYourBusinessBrain project for Sage)

OC: “McKinsey ran a survey of the main tools used in business, and they were the ones that people use at home anyway”

ZL “it’s about sharing, and it’s about collaborating… sharing what you did at the weekend, or collaborating on a project”

It’s interesting to think about both ‘sharing’ and ‘collaboration’ as Zeinab distinguishes here… because companies, whilst they may want people to focus on ‘collaboration’, must realise that people, no matter what communications tools they do and don’t have access to, will always do ‘sharing’… what you watched on TV last night, did at the weekend, what band you saw. 

But ‘sharing’ brings us closer together as people, we trust each other more, and our resultant collaboration is much more fruitful.

JPR: “Adoption of technology is about adoption… just get started and do it”

We’re all going to have to be self starters at this… carve out some of the time that the company has given you to do a job, and define how you think social media can best help you succeed.  And show people the results, don’t ask if you’re ‘allowed’…

ZL: “We’ve found the best way is just to get started: behaviours of posting content regularly is a something that’s actually learnt over time”

OC: “Brands underestimate the power of social media – KFC launched a promotion that was too good a deal, because people picked up and shared the deal so much that the affiliate restaurants started complaining, so KFC had to cancel the deal”

Again, another company not set up to deal with the way social media is making the world work now…


ZL: “Businesses that fail to give these tools to their people are missing an opportunity, because it helps break down silos and do great things”

JPR: “Top down doesn’t work, bottom up doesn’t work… only when they work together in a form of benevolent despotism that is adopted at the ground level will things happen.”

ZL: “micro-blogging is teaching people new behaviours, and the barriers to entry are low… it’ll lead to people starting to be more comfortable in pushing their own content out there”


And so, to lunch…


David Terrar, CEO, D2C Ltd

David has a raft of different examples of companies who’ve successfully implemented CSN systems,,, Cisco, Intel, CIBA etc etc.

He reckons there are at least a 100 great case studies for CSNs… mostly for large companies, though, not really for small ones (I’d imagine there will be lots of them on his blog).

Forrester has declared that the existence of an Enterprise 2.0 industry will be $4.3Bln by 2013.

“…Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast” (a maxim from the guys at Lockheed Martin).

That’s a great way to think about this stuff… don’t get wrapped up in big project, big budget thinking… do something over the next 4 weeks.  Show it works, then plan for something a little bigger, that pushes teh boundaries a little more.  All with the intention that you’re going to RULE THE WORLD, MOOO-HAAH-HAAAAH… sorry, I started thinking big again…

David (very rightly) recommends ‘Meatball Sundae’ and ‘Tribes’ by everyone’s favourite baldy man, Seth Godin.

Christian Kuhna, Head of Internal Comms, Adidas; “Understanding web 2.0 tools and their role in improving business and IT goals”

or ‘web 2.0 in a 3.0 company’

38,000 employees globally, Adidas Reebok & Taylor Made brands, average age 32, 40 nationalities at the HQ…

Nice, he uses a comic slide from ‘infinite crisis’… there’s a brave new world out there in communications, so how best can it be used:


Five ‘rules’ (though I’d argue they’re really ‘principles’… rules are made to be broken.. .principles are things that, by and large, have been shown to work often):

– Conversation, not monologue

– Honesty & Transparency

– Push not pull: FEED ME

– Distribution, not centralisation

– Consumers & Employees are ambassadors of your brand

Adidas had a huge, intricate plan for their internal communication plan in 2008… it incorporated:

– Information sharing

– Discussions & Forums

– Social Networking

– News Channel

– Knowledge & content management

But the financial circumstances of the world cut budgets back across the company but it was a blessing, as it’s made them concentrate on the key aspects, which they called ‘Speedboat’:


(yes, he used this image from Live And Let Die. I like his style.)

So they simplified a lot of stuff wrapped up in a very quick, easy to use system.  I’ll paste images from it when I get the slides.

There’s also a great example of a ‘my social network’ page… ideas, knowledge, projects, network & teams, tags, pictures, videos … all of which will offer employees to connect internal profile to external (facebook etc) profiles.

All this for under 100,000 Euros… to bring together that many people, and across that many territories, is pretty impressive.

Bob Pike, COO, SITEFORUM group; “How built a business using SaaS ‘Social Networking for Business”

A website trying to put themselves at the centre of the HR industry… around since 2004, it’s been redefined as a business three times already.

Moved from generating content originally, to faciitating the sharing and interaction of HR information, through document management, wikis, forums etc.

….arrrggggghhh, battery dying, no plug sockets to hand… Architects take note – next time, please put power sockets in your conference rooms!!  ArchitectFAIL!!!

As a brief aside, the Toshiba R600 is an excellent laptop; it weighs less than a bag of sugar, is slim sleek and lightweight, and the higher spec models come with a solid state hard drive, which draws on a lot less power and will generally get you an astounding 8+ hours of battery life.

I, of course, own the Toshiba R500, which (though excellent) does not half a solid state memory, and as such two years after I bought is giving me roughly 3.5 hours of battery life.  Dang.  I spent the rest of the conference perched at the back of the room to plug it in.


…and back, in time for the next panel…


Panel: Deploying a business social network within a traditional business

Thomas Power (Ecadamy), Carl Billson (UKCeB), Tayfun Bilsel (Rabbitsoft)

CB: “Do senior execs get this – if they do, they will oblige the IT departments to make it happen.  Whilst it’s users that create the demand, and IT ‘block’ things they can’t budget for, if the Chief Execs ‘get it’ they will make it happen.

TP: “IT departments are paid on the quality of the performance of the old system, not the investigation of a new one… it takes 6-9 months to get them on board.  Inertia could take a company 2-3 YEARS to get CSN programs embedded”.

This is an interesting insight into how people have to approach embedding new technology into companies… IT (generally as a rule, not in every case) are reactive, service driven departments; they achieve what they’re told to achieve.

In that respect, they’re a bit like Scotty in Star Trek; Kirk, the CEO, tells ’em to achieve something preposterous and difficult with the limited resources, and they miraculously do it…


If you’re a crewman on the Enterprise, however, and you’ve got a great idea to beat them pesky Klingons, you don’t go and tell Scotty.  You go and tell Kirk.  If you persuade Kirk, then he tells all of the crew, including Scotty, to make it happen.

CB: “There are early adopters who will want to reach out and grasp this stuff, without maybe thinking about the big picture impact… but that’s fine; think big, start small, act fast.”

…we should create systems that hoovers up, informally, a lot of the conversation and sharing that goes on anyway, but put it somewhere PUBLIC so more people feel obliged to get involved…

TP: “You’ve got to allow time for people to get used to this… it’s a big, big change.  Everyone in your organisations will take a long, long time to ALL be on board.  Some people will get it very quickly, but some people will take years”.

Crumbs… he’s right.  But then, if you don’t start now with small wins, you’ll never get anywhere… don’t be disheartened.

TP: “Individuals leading Government are not suitable for leading this change… whether the next Government will be either I don’t know”.

…interestingly harks back to the Baby Boomer /Gen X / Gen Y distinctions in business… most MPs (in all parties) are not the people you’d pick to lead you through a technology revolution… which is exactly what we’re in the middle of.

TP: “You don’t know what sharing online is until you start doing it”

Question from the floor… does anyone know ANY examples of a company using social media & sharing as part of a Corporate & Social Responsibility programming… panel shake heads blankly.

That’s an interesting dimension to all the corporate social networking stuff… no-one is aware of any company who’s used this to enagage their employees, and causes, and other peopel, in a corporate & social responsibility scheme.  I guess that’s because the CSR programme is, again, run by a different department to the ones likely to be experimenting with internal social networking.


In the advertising/meadja industries, we often complain about, then strive to fix, the ‘silos’ we found ourselves in originally as a result of the way that the 20th century meadja landscape had evolved.

But we’re certainly not the only ones affected, and really our problems are perhaps easier to solve than the silo issue here…

When you take the HR department, the (internal) comms department, and the IT department (all of whom are represented here I think by various different people), they’re all completely different disciplines, with different values and belief structures about what they deliver to the company.

(I might try and extend the Star Trek analogy one day… Kirk is the CEO, Scotty is IT, Bones is HR (looks after people), Uhuru is Comms…)

And yet the way you have to create a Corporate Social Network has to draw on the talents of all three of these groups of people, but you’ve also got to make them leave their baggage at the door.

It’s probably why whenever you spoke to someone at the conference, or heard a panel speak on stage, you think ‘well, you don’t seem like a typical HR/Systems/Comms person’… Because they’re not. 

This was a conference of the atypical few, I think.


Salvatore Reina, PwC; “The PwC Story”

Asked the question ‘is this web 2.0 thing useful to us?’

Started the project under the radar (out of the way of company governence)… had lot of conversations with external companies… decided to build 3 focussed pilot schemes.

Again, some instigators have taken it upon themselves to start something without really asking permission, tried a few things out, and shown the effects rather than getting the projects caught up in the bureaucracy of their company…

One of which – Client Relationship Management (for bringing together the team who work with the client, not with the client themselve… a upport system)

The teams wanted to better connect together, know what other people are doing, and who knew who at the client.  Really helped how the PwC business worked for the client, and impressed the (tech) client.

The three pilots gave birth to the SNSG – Social Networking Specialist Group, a team of business & IT experts… a skunkworks of sorts, with three areas of operation:

(I think this is a great way to think about anything where you’re assessing a company’s capablilities)

Brownfield (improve the value of what you have in place already)


Greenfield (build something new for you, which others have tried before)


Blue Sky (think of & create something pioneering, untried and potentially revolutionary)


Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital; “Funding Enterprise 2.0 tools/software”

The model of Ariadne is 50 entrepreneurs have put money in to invest in the entrepreneurs and companies fo the future…

In last 8 years, have worked with Espotting, Skype, SpinVox, Monitise, Zopa and SliceThePie.

“Invest at the point of maximum pessimism” Sir John Templeton.

5 stages of company growth:

– Concept

– Product

– Validation

– Scale

– Sustainability/Exit

…I found Julie’s presentation very interesting, and really worthwhile if you were thinking of setting up a company… I didn’t record much of it here though.  If this does interest you, you can see her talk more about the area here:


Panel: “The Future of Corporate Social Networking”

Nick Reynolds (BBC), Mark Redgrave (Amplify), David Bashford (SITEFORUM)

Chair (James Garner) opens with a question… how long will it take for companies to change their culture…

NR: “You’ve either got 6 months, or ten years… at BBC, something happens at 6 months that suddenly happens that puts the brakes on… cultural, legal, financial… when Parliament is using Social Networking to change the way the country is run, then everyone else will be doing it.”

NR “…if you want to change a cultural, identify the need – what’s in it for your boss?  What drives them, what do they want?” 

Back to the ‘target the CEO’ point – what does Captain Kirk want?  Apart from to cop off with lots of gorgeous alien chicks?

NR: “If you can get the information out there, that will change the culture of the organisation… ask ‘what today can we get out there IN PUBLIC… if you do that, it will open up the debate internally”

MR: “The best way to accelerate cultural change is to deliver something tangible… pick a use, a deployment… but pick something small, create a win, do that one thing and get something tangible out of it and take THAT to your board.”

DB: “Everyone should start now.  Create a SN solution in your workplace… be an example to others.  It’s very hard to make the changes at the top level.”

Start NOW, start small… a recurring theme of the day of course…

MR: “You won’t get fired for doing this, but you will get fired if you don’t… this stuff I not going away.”

NR: “If you’ve got ten thousand employees, and you don’t have a social networking site, why not write on a piece of paper ‘we want you to talk to our customers , wherever they and you are… twitter, facebook… why don’t we just have a policy that allows our people to have a company”

I loved Nick’s last point here, and it goes back to the nature of ‘control’… control is really hard to implement, and expensive, and not very productive.

If you’re going to write some guidelines, as Nick suggests, make it very simple, and allow people to use their own common sense in what they do and how they do it.

It’s like the famous Nordstrom Employee Handbook, which runs as follows:


Once again, as Lee said, “Trust is cheaper than control”.

So, that was the conference, with some additional thoughts added in afterwards.  I’ll leave you with all that at the moment, but may come back in a week or so with a short, snappy, ‘key points’ like the one I did from iMedia.


9 Replies to “Corporate Social Networking Forum”

  1. 06/09/2009 at 12:46 PM June 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Great information here – reading through it, you didn’t miss a thing. And good to meet you yesterday. Thanks for this.

  2. 06/09/2009 at 03:36 PM June 9, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Great write up (far more detailed than mine) and a good summary of the event – it must have taken ages to write it up. My only criticism of the event was really it was a case of preaching to the converted. I’d like to have seen the naysayers sit through a couple of the presentations…

  3. 06/09/2009 at 05:24 PM June 10, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Thanks both, I find blogging it while I’m there is about the best way to capture everything… the important stuff will drift to the top over a few days. I may do a follow up ‘main points’ post at some point.Phil, on the ‘preaching to the converted’ point, I completely agree… but the more the converted share amongst each other, the more evidence they’ll have to say to their companies ‘we GOTTA do this…’

  4. 06/09/2009 at 08:39 PM June 10, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Hi John,Great blog – really enjoyed revisiting the conference and you added some really valuable insight too!I think that it will be interesting to see, once the ‘pioneers’ of corporate social networking encourage colleagues to take up new tools, how it changes not only the way they work internally, but the way they do business too.

  5. 06/09/2009 at 11:44 PM June 10, 2009 at 6:44 am

    I think you’re right, Zeinab, it’s going to change how people do business in the future… I think Euan Semple said rings true here: ‘it’s about people doing business with people they trust’… …well, in five years time, you might only buy everything, right down to groceries, from ‘people you trust’.

  6. 06/10/2009 at 07:13 PM June 11, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Brilliant write up – thanks so much John! Just on the use of social tools for sustainability and CSR, Naked’s work with Nokia developing their ‘Power of We’ sustainability platform (which won the Grand Prix at the Green Awards) is very much an internal comms project which depended in no small part on the use of corporate social networking to get employees engaged (see more here – Worked fantastically well – shame it’s not harnessed more!

  7. 06/11/2009 at 09:38 AM June 11, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    That Nokia case study is great, Katy, thank you. I think more and more companies will have to sort their own internal communications first, as it’s a great way of not only making your company happier, more productive and united, but it helps you test ways in which you might want to talk to customers.Note to others: If you want to see it, try this link, the original isn’t working properly:

  8. 11/24/2009 at 10:49 PM November 25, 2009 at 6:49 am

    thanks so much!!!! for all this information! social news and networkings are so useful this days!!! thanks again!!!

  9. 12/02/2009 at 04:09 PM December 3, 2009 at 12:09 am

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