Does your company have an internal social network for employees?
That was a question that my co-presenter and I asked participants in a recent HR.com webinar entitled “How Internal Social Networks Enable Interacting and Responding to Employee Needs.” More than half said no.
The good news is that a majority said they planned to start one.
External or Build Your Own?
A company can take one of two approaches to engaging its employees on a social network: use a third-party vendor with the technology in place to link your employees, or build your own network. In the webinar, I described how companies can leverage external networks.
Robert Libbey, Senior Director, Global Colleague Communications and Corporate Social Media at Pfizer, Inc., the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, took participants through the process of how Pfizer built its own social platform. Three of the best-known social networks – Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook – offer social sharing, although they have limitations. Enterprise social networks such as Chatter and Yammer will build a customized corporate internal network on their platforms.
Building a Digital Town Square
Bob Libbey characterized Pfizer’s internal network as a “Digital Town Square” where employees come to connect, distribute and receive information from each other and the company. Using the SharePoint 2007 platform (to be upgraded to SharePoint 2010), Pfizer consolidated 410 information-based sites and 10,000 team sites onto a single platform called PfizerWorld. The new network launched in 2011 and at year-end recorded these impressive statistics:
- Unique users: 175,068
- Article views: 5,148, 738
- Page views: 60, 518,608
- Savings: $12mm
What’s striking about the first statistic is that Pfizer has 100,000 employees. Is that 175,068 a typo? No. The company also allows vendors and consultants to access the network in an incredible nod towards transparency. Pfizer trusts its employees and the outsiders accessing the network to use their good judgment about what to post and share. They call it “guidance without prescription.” If your company is interested in creating an internal social network to engage your employees, the presentation below this post will describe the types of social networks that you can investigate to decide what’s right for your organization.