Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

Social Intranets & digital natives

One particular statistic from the Swedish internet use report for 2011 was how everyone in Sweden in the 16-25 age group uses social media.

For a fair while we’ve been discussing the expectations of young employees in the workplace, but this statistic is about as big as a wake-up call as an organisation can get.

It’s time for companies to stop slacking, pull their intranet socks up and get social.

Digital natives

Let’s paint a picture. Jesper is 25. Not long out of university and has spent pretty much as long as he can bother to remember using MSN instant messaging, texting, and socialising with his friends via Facebook. All the time.

He’s been receiving constant feedback, answers, and opinions around the clock. At the same time he’s been giving feedback, answers and opinions to his peers around the clock. It’s a totally natural part of his life. A digital native.

Social media sites blocked

So what happens when he enters the corporate world and sits behind his laptop at work? He replicates his natural behaviour outside of the workplace. He expects to be able to network with his colleagues and his professional contemporaries in the same way as he does naturally outside of work.

But your organisation hasn’t embraced social business. The intranet is still a place for pushing news articles from internal communication. Facebook access is blocked. Internally, email is still the king.

Jesper is starting to regret accepting this job and realises that next time, he’s going to do his company culture homework a lot better.

He then pulls out his iPad from his bag and opens up all his normal social networks, invites all of his colleagues to be friends, or follows them, or connects with them and starts working.

Carry on regardless

Circumnavigating your attempts at blocking sites, working outside of your firewall, he has filled in the gaps. It doesn’t matter any more whether you think it’s a good idea to have a social intranet, or haven’t budgeted for one – the digital natives in your workplace are going to network regardless.

Providing social and collaborative tools inside the firewall (or within the realm of the organisation) will help you retain some of Jesper’s knowledge though his social behaviour and turn it into a digital asset for your company.

Banner for IntraTeam Event 2012James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist, web and intranet manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

This blog post was born over a beer and a chat in Stockholm with intranet pioneer Mark Morrell and Martin Risgaard, Social Media Strategist at Arla Foods.

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