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How to Launch a Social Collaboration Site

Part of the Social Collaboration For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Launch day is an important moment in the life of a social collaboration network. A launch is different from a pilot project, which by definition is more tentative and experimental. Here are some of the keys to a successful launch.

  • Pick your launch strategy. Will you launch globally, to all employees everywhere, or is your organization large enough that you will be more successful enrolling users one geography or business unit at a time? Some organizations also choose to do a "soft launch" where the software is available to everyone and officially supported but not aggressively promoted, allowing the most enthusiastic and proactive users to start using it first.

  • Line up advocates. Before you promote the social collaboration network aggressively, it helps to line up people throughout the organization who will advocate for its use. These may be people who participated in a pilot project or signed up during a soft launch phase. Or they may simply have an urgent business need for the tools the collaboration network provides, making them motivated to help make it a success.

  • Have a story to tell. Clearly articulate the relevance of social collaboration to your business, using stories based on early experience with the tools or examples from organizations similar to your own.

  • Seed the network with content, groups, and discussion starters. You want the social collaboration network to look like a vibrant and useful environment on launch day. That means getting things started ahead of time, with the help of your project team members and network advocates.

  • Make it easy to get started. Do whatever you can to simplify account creation and profile setup. This may mean pre-populating profiles with data pulled from human resources information systems and automatically creating some network connections, for example by making employees follow posts and updates from their boss by default.

  • Spread the word. Announce the social collaboration network with email broadcasts, at company meetings, with signage in the office or in the elevators.

  • Celebrate the early wins. When a project managed with help from the network comes in ahead of schedule or a sales team collaborates to win a big deal, make some noise about that success. Recognize the people, not the software — the software is nothing without people who know how to use it effectively.

  • Expand use and frequency of use. As success stories accumulate, use them to bring the collaboration network to parts of the company that have not yet adopted it (or not in any serious way). Promote additional ways members of the collaboration network can take advantage of the platform.

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