Social media has a place in the enterprise. Study after study confirms that employees who are able to engage with each other over social channels are more productive, more engaged, and even lead to improved market share and revenue.
But it has been a struggle to adapt social media to the enterprise. Most efforts involve a bolt-on, such as Yammer or Chatter added to an existing intranet. These can be made to work; companies like ConAgra, Pitney Bowes, and TeeKay Shipping have made these messaging systems into rock-solid tools for employees to find and engage with colleagues who are involved in similar activities. The deeper sense of connection and the improved awareness of what’s going on have shown tremendous results. Sadly, only a handful of companies have figured this out.
Other companies switch on social features built into intranet platforms like SharePoint. Suddenly, you can like, share, and comment on anything, even if there’s no reason or incentive for engaging.
We’re still waiting for the right kind of social media to find its way into the organization. With the introduction of Known, we may have the opportunity to see another approach in action.
Known is a platform anyone can use to create their own space online, create content and share it, share other content, and engage in discussions. It’s part of the IndieWeb movement, which is focused on the re-decentralization of the Net, an idea promoted by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who (like many others) is discouraged by the consolidation of online activity in a few corporate-owned networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
You can install Known on your own server and join a federation of other sites that use IndieWeb standards. (You’re not limited to Known. Ghost is another option, and there are more joining the movement all the time.) Or you can set up your site on Known’s hosting servers; if you want, it’s easy to move the site to your own server later.
I’ve been fascinated by (and drawn to) the IndieWeb movement ever since I heard Known co-founders Ben Werdmüller and Erin Jo Richey This Week in Google. I’ve set up my own Known site and have been doing research into the whole IndieWeb concept.
It was on the TWiG podcast episode with Werdmüller and Richey, though, that I learned the company saw enterprise installations of Known as one of its revenue opportunities. Since using it, I’ve come to the conclusion that, yep, it would rock in the enterprise.
The Known website suggests that, with Known behind the firewall, employees could meet their colleagues “around a digital water cooler.
With Known you can run a private social network for your company, campus or organization. Today’s teams don’t always work in the same room, but now you have a way to share inspirations, chat with colleagues, and send around company BBQ pics without getting lost in endless email threads.”
In fact, a tool like Known would solve a lot of problems, the main one being a simple place from which any employee could contribute any kind of content to the right place so it would be seen by the right people. Need to send a status update? Done. Want to contribute detailed information in a blog post? No problem. Want to share some great content you found somewhere else? Piece of cake.
You can also check in at your location to let other employees know where you are and share audio over the network.
I couldn’t find many details on how Known would hook into an existing intranet infrastructure, but the platform is still in beta and they’re only just now talking about monetizing the free software with support packages and organizational installations. I suspect it’s something they’re already working on.
The idea, though, of employing the IndieWeb’s POSSE philosophy—Post on One Site and Syndicate Elsewhere—makes tremendous sense inside an organization. The only question now is which organization will be the first to take it out for a spin.
Incidentally, I published this on my Known site before posting it to my regular old blog.
(For more on intranets, be sure to join me at the Intranet Global Forum in New York on October 7-.)