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Your New Social Intranet Requires New Social Training

Sean R. Nicholson - Intranet Evangelist at

Sean R. Nicholson

Let’s face it, new employees who come to your organization right out of college are probably pretty familiar with social media. Most have been on Facebook since its inception and some have been Tweeting nearly as long. The question is whether they understand the business acumen and fundamental principles of social networking to do it correctly in the workplace.

Recently, Andrew McAffee wrote an outstanding article on two common mistakes that Millennials make at work.  The article emphasizes the fact that Generation Y has been trained to overshare their personal information, which can result in the first mistake of creating informational clutter in the workplace. The second mistake comes from a lack of an organizational hierarchy and the appropriate channels and communication practices to be used in the workplace.

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For instance, posting a message on an executive’s social Intranet Wall saying “That preso was just 2 cool! I’d luv to wrk on the project if you need a hand!” may not impress the executive and may end up damaging the employees reputation. The reality is that Millennials need assistance in understanding the workplace and the difference between sharing information on Facebook and leveraging the social Intranet at their company. Any training focused on Gen-Y needs to help them understand the rules of the workplace, any policies that are in place, and the difference between social sharing and workplace sharing.

The issue of training isn’t limited to the Millennials, though. Take a look at the Baby Boomers and you may run into highly-efficient employees who are heavily reliant on phones and email and have no understanding or desire to learn about social media. “The Facebook” or “The Twitter” are just toys that kids play with and may not have any perceived value in the workplace. These social media ostriches require a different approach for training on the value of social media.  Often, the value needs to be tied to workplace productivity, return on investment for the effort, or furthering a business goal. Often, tying proposed social activities to customer service or call center activities can provide them with the frame of reference to demonstrate that social media isn’t just people talking about what they had for breakfast.

Gen-Xers aren’t immune to the issue, either. Although Gen-Xers grew up around computers, email, and the Web some have a tough time seeing social media as more than just an activity for connecting with old high school friends. Educating them on the value of collaboration and the cost savings that can be associated with it will be required to get buy-in on a new social Intranet.

The fact is, social media brings a new style of communication into the workplace and social Intranets that offer features such as status updates, wikis, threaded discussions, and microblogging also require a new level of training to help employees understand the new tools, leverage it to the fullest in their daily activities, and share only what is business appropriate.

Have a great story about a success in training your organization on the use of a social Intranet? Feel free to add a comment and let others know about the approach you took or success/failure story.

Johan Nilsson

Monday 11th of March 2013

Great post. This is what everyone agrees about, the focus on useser- and content management, to achieve an efficient and productive use. I work with intranet projects and have seen to many project get stuck for years because the focus is at develop, develop, develop.

We need to find more efficient and resource-saving project models than the traditional development projects. I advocate complete intranet software solutions or cloud solutions, of course, not for all intranet project but I think it would have spared many businesses large resources

I wrote a blogpost a few days ago about my thoughts to the intranet project -


Rachel McAlpine

Sunday 18th of September 2011

You are so right. And the natural way to train staff is online. That's why we're developing a suite of quick courses on writing for social media: designed as on-tap induction training.

Miguel Angel

Monday 18th of October 2010

Good post. Not only Intranet or employees but sometimes a generational issue.


Tuesday 7th of September 2010

New Blog Post: Your New Social Intranet Requires New Social Training