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What Constitutes Success For a Social Network?

Jonathan Distad (@jdistad) passed this on to me and Mark Polly earlier this week.  It’s an article in MIT’s Sloan review titled, They Built it but Employees Aren’t Coming.  The article points out one piece of information that you would call the zinger:

The most startling result was that when asked to assess the overall engagement of employees in the company, more than half responded that only 10-20% of its employees were active.

At first glance, that really is a zinger.  Only 10-20% of people actually use this system you setup?  Where’s the value?  Of course, that’s a valid question but let’s give some information:

Breakdown of social adoption

This helps you understand that there exist varying level of adoptions and the largest response (37%) was of only a small number using it. However, 43% or respondents report either growing numbers of users above 30% or large numbers of active users as logging in so with that information, we can probably conclude the zinger isn’t 100% correct.

But all that said, what is the lowest threshold where you can count success in a social network?  Is it 15% 25% 40%?  I went to our social network and asked a bunch of smart people who implement this their opinion and came up with the following remarks. Thanks Mark Polly, Jonathan Distad, Rich Wood, and Travis Nielsen (who provided the comedic commentary).

  • Who is collaborating is probably as important as how many are doing so.
  • The right 20% collaborating could be enough to provide value for the entire company
  • The value of a network is directly related to the number of nodes (people) on it
  • It’s ok to start with slow adoption.
  • Value may not come from every day use. How many login to facebook every day?

I tend to lean towards success counting as small but growing and on who is actually using the social network.  You’ll never get 90% utilization because some people are lurkers by nature.  But if a lurker only logs in twice a month to find a person or to do a search and find what they want………doesn’t that constitute success?

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