What is an Enterprise Social Network?
An Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is a platform for workplace communication. This incorporates team messaging, project management, collaboration tools, and more. Like traditional social networks, channels are set up for employees to connect, network, and communicate with each other.
Enterprise social networking tools like Yammer or Jive are built with organizations in mind, allowing multiple teams and employees to interact all in one place. Conversations occur through status updates, topic threads, comments, or direct messaging channels. Many ESNs also offer company-wide announcement channels or news streams to broadcast company communications and encourage employee advocacy.
ESNs focus on enabling strong interpersonal connections within an organization—just like Facebook and Twitter do in our personal lives. And these connections are key to a collaborative working environment.
How enterprise social networks improve team collaboration
Having your entire team’s insights at your fingertips makes it easy to get real-time feedback and ideas as you need them. This can mean having an on-the-fly brainstorm in a shared channel or just getting a quick review of an email before you send it. The mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication in an enterprise social network helps coworkers connect and work together more effectively.
A company directory makes it easy to reach out across your company (and even the country!) to work with someone without having to schedule a time to work side-by-side. Being able to find a team member—and reach out to them instantaneously—allows for more cross-team collaboration and prevents any communication barriers brought upon by not being able to find the right person. A good company directory will also provide the employee's department or role, as well as any specialties they may have. That means a non-technical employee can reach out to an IT team member and get the answer they need when they need it.
A centralized collaboration tool allows your team to work together regardless of location or time zone differences. ESNs keep all your work in the same place—shared files, to-do lists, reminders, notes, and important conversations. This makes expectations, deadlines, roles, and initiatives clear.
When your work and your people come together, collaborative processes get built quicker. ESNs help establish communication norms, so employees with varied work styles can work together without friction. ESNs include features such as 1:1 chats and group Channels that streamline communication and aid collaboration. This enables both vertical and horizontal communication so employees can work together no matter where they are.
Collaboration features to consider when evaluating an ESN for your business
The best ESN for your business will have all the tools you need to manage your tasks and work across the organization. That means built-in features like to-dos and reminders or integrations with the productivity tools you already use, like file sharing in OneDrive or task management in Jira. Using these integrations, team members can access any file that's shared with them at any time, from multiple devices, and talk about it right within your channels.
Here are some collaboration features you should look for when evaluating an enterprise social network for your business:
- Status updates and Do not Disturb
- Shared notes
- Company directory
- File sharing
- Voice and video calling
- Process automation
- Open API and easy integration