You’re not Facebook: Confusing personal and corporate motivations when deploying Enterprise 2.0 solutions

In a previous post, I discussed tactics you can leverage in Enterprise 2.0 initiatives to increase the likelihood of user adoption. In this post, I want to focus on a significant mistake organizations make when rolling out E2.0 capabilities: confusing personal and corporate motivations for participating in social technology-based interactions, and failing to focus on the cultural aspects of workplace change. This ultimately results in overly optimistic expectations for organic adoption, and underinvestment in the organizational change necessary to be successful.

So, why do people participate in Social Media in the public space? As a result of our ongoing research into public-facing social technologies, Acquity Group has identified four (4) common motivations for participation:

• Peer Group Interaction: the ability to share relevant information within an interest-bound community;
• Social Status: enhancement or maintenance of social positioning relative to a defined peer group;
• Personal Efficiency: reduction in individual effort required to interact with a peer group;
• Entertainment: social media technologies are generally designed to be enjoyable to use.

As we look at the primary motivations we’ve identified for personal use, it doesn’t take long to identify parallels that are meaningful to an enterprise, as the following table demonstrates:

Personal Motivations – Why people use social technologies at home. Corporate Motivations – Why enterprises want employees to use social technologies at work.
Peer Group Interaction

“by using social technologies, I can better keep up with my friends.”

Workgroup Interaction

“use of social technologies will enable employees to better collaborate within their teams.”

Social Status

“by using social technologies, I will enhance my social position.”

Resource Visibility

“use of social technologies will enable efficient location of expertise within our organization.”

Personal Efficiency

“by using social technologies, I can easily contribute to activities I find worthwhile.”

Worker Productivity

“use of social technologies will enable employees to be more productive in their individual roles.”


“by using social technologies, I can have fun.”

Job Satisfaction

“employees will find their work more fulfilling as a result of social technologies.”

This is an intuitive mapping for most organizations, and gets business leaders excited about the potential for social technologies to transform a business. The problem is one of false equivalence: just because an employee uses Facebook on company time to maintain their social status does not mean that the same employee will update their “Corporate Facebook” page to make themselves more visible to others in your enterprise. Why not? Organizational culture gets in the way.

I recently worked with a global professional services firm who was stuck at a very low level of adoption (< 20% of their target population was active) for their “Corporate Facebook” deployment. If you were looking just at the technology, you’d have no idea why the adoption rate was so low; they’d done an outstanding job with the design and technical implementation. But, once you started digging into the organizational culture, it was easy to see why usage wasn’t higher. Their primary audience (consultants) didn’t want more exposure (i.e., resource visibility)—they were struggling to keep up with the workload generated from their local network, and the incentive structure didn’t reward broader visibility.

The same perspective applies to each of the corporate motivations identified (above). They all have strong cultural dimensions that have to be considered in order to make Enterprise 2.0 technologies successful. The employee moderating a Wikipedia entry on a subject of interest to your business may never visit your internal wiki. If your organizational culture doesn’t value and incentivize worker productivity and effective workgroup interaction, she’s probably not.

As you pilot your Enterprise 2.0 solutions (yes, you should pilot), be sure you understand what assumptions you’re making about personal vs. corporate motivations. Then, take an unbiased look at your organizational culture to ensure that it’s capable of supporting the transformation you’re seeking to achieve.

About Steven Beauchem

Director of Digital Strategy at Acquity Group


  1. I find the entire aspect of enhancing “social status” difficult to navigate in this social technology space because of the lack of context. I am a CEO part of the day, or an uncle, father, mentor, or husband another part of the day. Humor for example, can be very dangerous (especially mine), in a world where black and white falls out from 256 or less characters when grey was intended. My personal and professional life does blend, and so to segment one space off from another is not entirely possible unless I adopt multiple personalities, which for me is a non-starter. The net (no pun intended) result is I err on the side of conservative, and my social technology interactions are unfortunately muted.

  2. Irv Latta

    In my opinion, it’s not about “social” at all when dealing with the workplace. Rather, it’s just the evolution of communication (from phone, to email to modern social networking tools). I manage the Enterprise 2.0 initiatives at my workplace and our focus is in the merger of unstructured data (such as communications of any type, including project status reports) and structured data (from back-end LOB systems). For example, if you can integrate “events” from your CRM system (recently closed sales, new leads, etc) into your communication stream and apply taxonomy to both sets of information, you, as a consumer of the data, can easily sort, filter and pull out only the information that you find relevant. What you end up with is a dashboard that reflects everything you care about within the company – being updated real-time. This is true business intelligence and will blow the doors off of that $40M BI solution you have sitting unused. I strongly suggest taking the time to learn how to use tools Twitter REALLY well (it’s not just about posting status) and you’ll begin to see how they can be applied internally. It will change the way you think about communication.

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