I have been reading over some of the material that I’ve written for clients past and gathering some of the more widely applicable pieces together for a new client. A lot of my advice hasn’t changed from when I first wrote it, other than sometimes the names of tools. Anyway, I’m going to chuck a few bits and pieces up here for your perusal in an act that feels a bit like the blogging equivalent of finding a tenner down the back of the sofa.
There are a number factors that are required for success. These include:
Data safety: Users must feel secure that their data is safe, and that regardless of what happens, their data will be both saved and made accessible. This isn’t just about data recovery in case of fatal server loss, but about knowing that the data won’t be randomly deleted at some point in the future. There must be a guarantee that, even if the tool changes, the data will be preserved.
Service stability: Tools must be reliable and have very little downtime. Scheduled maintenance that requires a tool to be taken offline must be publicised in advance.
Senior management endorsement: Social tools need both grassroots and senior management adoption. Many people take their cues from senior management. Having senior figures both use and approve social tools will provide a sense of security for the rest of the company and will improve uptake.
Peer acceptance: Endorsement from senior managers by itself is not enough to ensure that people feel comfortable spending time learning and using new tools. They must also feel that their peers accept the tools and their use of them, even if those peers are not using the tools themselves to begin with.
Support on demand: Whilst most social tools are very simple to use, there is still a learning curve and users will require some support. Lightweight, on-demand support that can be provided on an ad hoc basis is the best way to ensure users feel able to experiment.
WYSIWYG editing: The closer social software applications are to providing the same editing environment as common word processing applications, the easier it is for people to learn to use them. Software that requires any specialist knowledge, such as wikis that require people to learn wiki mark-up language, will be harder to introduce to a non-IT community.