Adopting social media in workplaces – Best practice approaches 2017

Adopting social media in workplaces

Adopting social media in workplaces is both an art and a science and they both go hand in hand together. For that matter, conducting business analysis also has shades of both art and science and not much relevance is given to the ‘art’ portion of it these days.Conducting Business Analysis is a mandatory precursor and a must do exercise even before we attempt to carry out and adopt enterprise tools in workplaces.

For the benefit of some of us, the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) a much-recognized body in this field, defines Business Analysis as a ‘practice to bring in a change in an organizational context by defining the needs and recommending solutions to the stakeholders’.

Fair enough! but then in the recent years, the implementation and adoption of social media tools in organizations has brought the ‘art’ portion of business analysis to the forefront. This is not to say that logical analysis and methodological rules are no less important either.

There is much written about the logical analysis and rules of implementation.  What I attempt to write below is my natural understanding of how ‘adopting social media in workplaces’ can be taken up.From a business analysis perspective and to bring in a positive productive change and intended benefits there are three approaches to adopting social media in workplaces. They are:-

  1. The all at once together approach.
  2. Phased approach.
  3. The bottoms up approach.

There are myriad tools which run inside workplaces and not all of them have the connecting power nor the acceptance among employees, as social media tools. Once they are implemented, they become a way of life inside the organization subject to their usage and popularity among the employees. Its usage builds social capital.Having said this, there are ample opportunities for people in the HR function. 

People who work as HR Generalists, HR business analysts and OD (Organizational development) consultants can intervene and learn from these exercises. Even to the extent that they can glean for information and conduct the organizational scan, which they do regularly as part of their jobs for measuring employee satisfaction levels.

The vital information they gain can be used to speed up the social media adoption process as well.Please read our blog post article: Social media collaboration, A synergy in the workplacesNow, we will look at these approaches one by one.  We will also find out why the Bottoms-up approach is the most recommended approach for adopting social media in workplaces.

The All at once  together approach

The main driver in this approach is the top management. Usually, the top management in the workplaces would mandate a change. The rest of the organization follows suite. This initiative lays the ground for everybody (All units and all facets) participating and contributing together for making it happen. This is quite ambitious. The success of the adoption rests on – how young the organization is.When the employees are tech-savvy and are eager to carry out new solutions for their problems, then this approach finds its place. 

We usually find such scenarios in young startup organizations. There are inherent problems and challenges. The approach works best when the employee population is homogeneous or during times of complete business turn-around, where the implementation of social media tool takes precedence  (For example –  Implementation of Wiki collaboration can turn the tide in a project managed or consultancy organizations).This emphasizes the fact that ‘adopting social media tools in workplaces’ is priority based and changes with the changing business dynamics.

The phased approach

Phased adoption and implementation of social media tool is a widely used and documented practice for adopting social media tool in workplaces. The entire implementation, as well as the adoption, is done in phases. Where the phases are arranged and followed sequentially or the phases can overlap.  The phased implementation happens over a period of time.  A business unit or a function is selected and usually, a pilot implementation is done as the first phase.The adoption process is taken up with a set of change management practices. 

After initial learnings and after developing a set of do’s and don’t’s,  the implementation is rolled out to the other parts of the organization. Phased approach is usually termed as a safe way to implement an enterprise tool. It follows a top-down approach model and a presence of a sponsorship and steering committee to oversee and support the ongoing implementation. The phased approach works on a consensus model and takes up a project management plan for implementation. There are lessons which are learned along the way.

Bottoms -up approach

The bottoms-up approach is the most used and recommended method for adopting social media in workplaces. Social media usage starts on an ad-hoc basis and slowly spreads to the rest of the organization. A group of enthusiastic employees start a group for sharing knowledge. They interact and share over an intranet sharing space. They evangelize knowledge sharing through the intranet. Their interaction and knowledge sharing becomes a success and leads to organizational benefits.

New features from external social media tools

The group also learns new social media features from external social media tools and incorporate it. Their success story spreads and more employee groups join them. Critical mass builds up. More success stories follow. The employees from the rest of business unit join them and realize the benefits.The word spreads to the top management of the company as well as to other business units. 

Top management sets up a sponsorship committee headed by a VP for implementing the social media tool to the rest of the organization. Benefits of the social media tool are realized across its various features and functionalities. Adoption and integration is a gradual process and everyone finds something or the other of benefit in the tool. Everyone is happy at the end.


There are challenges and obstacles in all the three approaches. These challenges and gaps are essential for understanding the organizational landscape. They form the inputs for the business analysis, which we talked about in the beginning. Conducting proper business analysis starts with an organizational scan of its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. This organizational scan becomes quite essential when a people-centered tool like an enterprise social media is being implemented. 

There are other implementation steps, like the organizational readiness, aligning the objectives, Implementation design and plan and metrics. We will cover these implementation steps in future blog posts.There are challenges in all these steps. As we talked about earlier, The implementation and the leadership teams have to overcome the challenges and learn lessons as they go on. Applying the lessons learned in the new environment is key and critical for successfully implementing and adopting social media in workplaces.













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Ramkumar Yaragarla

I am 43 years old. Founder, Loving dad and Husband. Worked as an IT Business analyst and program manager in several Fortune 100 companies.Alumnus at the University of Warwick, UK. I love the WWW and write on Social aspects of information, Social collaboration, Digital Sociology, Digital Humanities and Work life balance. I enjoy playing on the beach with my 9 year old daughter. I am open to your suggestions and comments.
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