Social governance, work in progress for all

December 10, 2010

At JBoye Aarhus 10 (Denmark) I did a workshop on “The social dimension of intranets: the challenge of governance and management“. I presented results from this year’s Global Intranet Strategies survey on “social” and governance along with direct quotations from survey participants who contributed their firsthand experiences.

The workshop participants were from organizations that were just starting social initiatives internally and companies where social media initiatives are already well-established. There was a blend of large and small organizations, and of public and private. The discussion was lively and we could have continued well into the afternoon.

Workshop learnings

At the end of the workshop, I asked the participants to share what had struck them the most during our half-day session. Here are the points they made. A few are  slightly re-worded by myself, and I have grouped into themes. Otherwise, they are exactly what people said.


  • Tap into the core values of the company and using that as a driver to develop a social media strategy.
  • Social media is slowly approaching the intranet; they should not be two separate worlds.
  • The various communication strategies must be joined up; there should be a clear, overall strategy including all the various elements.


  • It is important to the do the preparatory homework before launching SM initiatives.
  • Preparation includes close contact with the early movers / mavericks / incubators is important.
  • Measure and learn from them; use them right, don’t forget them.


  • Measure learnings and feed the outcomes into improving guidelines.
  • Measure interaction (e.g. number of comments, not number of blogs).
  • Soft versus hard benefits: the distinction is important when measuring – and they are both important.

User types

  • Remember to take into account the types of users and their different ways of approaching / utilizing social media
  • Should we define social roles like we do for the intranet? E.g. how do financial analysts work differently from R&D people, and how do their needs in social media features differ?

The potential of social media

  • Social media makes the invisible visible – or is capable of making it visible.
  • Social media used internally enables effective brand management.

Culture, the big open question

Will cultural differences impact adoption of social media? Will culture “eat” social media for breakfast? or will social media “eat” culture?

How will social media initiatives work in organization with employees around the world. Will the different cultures end up triggering social media silos?

We hope to look into this in a year, maybe with another workshop at JBoye 11 and in other workshops I will be leading in different countries over the year.

What impact has culture had on your social media initiatives?

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Martin Risgaard

I find it interesting that many find excuses like “It’s not in our culture” for not implementing Social Media – and these really are excuses! Nobody questions the need and existence of social media, so why is the adoption so relatively slow?

IMHO I think that we are stuck in a Tayloristic, ROI focused frame of mind which does not allow ‘unleashing’ a new thing in an organisation just because somebody believed in it. We need facts – hard facts. Problem is that you need to use social media before you see the value, and unfortunately Facebook had become a new F-word because it’s seen as a waste of time which also affects all other social media platforms.

Does culture then eat social media for breakfast? Maybe, but both are here to stay and they WILL impact eachother… I think that they should get together and cook a nice Brunch in stead!

Jane McConnell

Many people use culture as an excuse for why social media will not work in their organization. Would be good to know if anyone has done research on types of organizational cultures and relation/impact on social media.

Samuel Driessen

Interesting post, Jane. And great question. I find social media to be interesting because the relationship between social media and culture is bi-directional. The (company) culture has to fit social media (culture) for successful adoption. But I also see culture change due to social media use. I try to look at the concepts underlying social media. And these concepts fit us people very well. Tapping into these concepts when rolling out social media is a key to success. Rolling it out as technology (non-hman focus) is a key to failure.