Why enterprise social networks fail

Social intranets hold much promise, but keeping them work relevant and noise free is hard.

Most implementations fail for these reasons:

Below, we explain each of these key pitfalls and some tips on how to avoid them.

Introducing social tools into the workplace

Introducing an enterprise social network (ESN) into the workplace isn’t easy. It’s the kind of change that impacts how people work and interact. It’s important to select the right platform and plan its introduction.

The benefits of social intranets are clear. They reinforce transparency, openness, and inclusion in the workplace. They can make your workplace more human and stimulate peer-to-peer collaboration. All these factors improve employee engagement.


Plan your rollout and sell the benefits.

Jostle’s️ intranets guide you through a proven rollout process. Learn more.

Most social intranets fail

Although many companies have experimented with enterprise social platforms, very few have succeeded in making them widely used and mission critical to how work gets done.

People are busy at work, so getting most employees to use social tools is hard. Employee adoption rates of under 10% are common. According to Gartner, 80% of social business implementations will fail.


Choose an intranet platform that will work for ALL your employees, not just those that are savvy with consumer social tools.

Jostle intranets work with all employees, regardless of age, tech savvy or job type. Our customers are achieving amazing engagement rates. Learn more.

The problem of too many social streams

Most social intranets are based on Twitter-like “streams”. Soon there are lots of streams, without any organization or curation of the topics they serve. That exposes everyone to the noise of many conversations going on at once, few of them relevant to the work at hand. As this noise level builds, many users stop using the platform.


Ensure you have reasonable and simple ways to organize and curate the topics under discussion on your social intranet.

Jostle intranets make it easy to filter content and organize discussion streams by topic.

The problem of ad hoc groups

Most social tools use ad hoc groups formed by social mechanisms like “following”. Anyone can start yet another stream and invite the group of people they think is relevant. Problem is, soon you have four groups called “sales”, none of which ever include everyone involved in sales and none of them maintained in a systematic or current manner.


Ensure your business-critical communications go to groups that have valid, maintained memberships and can be quickly mapped to your existing workplace teams.

Jostle makes it easy to tie chat streams and content to actual workplace teams. Learn how.

The problem of viral streams

Many social tools are designed for viral, bottom-up adoption. That usually means they are poorly designed for use by your less online inclined employees. It also means that they work hard to expose streams to many employees (adding to the noise). Such practices encourage non-work relevant topics to break out, further adding to the noise problem and drawing into question the whole purpose of your social intranet.


Ensure that conversations are discoverable, but free of viral adoption mechanisms that introduce noise.

Jostle makes conversations discoverable alongside content and people. Learn more.

Social intranets can threaten middle managers

Leadership support and participation are key to the success and impact of your social intranet. You might have the executive team on side, but how will middle managers react?

You want to introduce a social intranet that reflects your values, how you are organized, and how you make decisions. Use your new platform to shift your culture and behaviours over time, as you wish. But don’t assume that your organization will quickly become more “social” just because a new platform arrived.


Make sure that your intranet will work for your organization the day it launches, without an immediate shift in culture or collaboration habits.

Jostle is configurable to reflect your culture, organization and management style.

Keeping enterprise social private

Intranets are places for employees to find and discuss company information privately within your organization. It’s important that your social intranet is structured in a way that’s clear to all employees that whatever is said there stays within the company. That will help employees who don’t regularly use social tools in their private lives feel comfortable. And it will help keep your proprietary information confidential.


Don’t build hooks into your social intranet that share employee comments into external messaging services or consumer social tools like Twitter and Facebook.

All information published on Jostle intranets is strictly private within your workplace.

The problem of big platforms

Some enterprise social platforms attempt to become work relevant by doing everything. They provide their own document collaboration tools and create a new home for your data and processes. This creates a few problems.

One is that these platforms inflict a lot of change and take a long time to roll out. So long that your business needs are likely to shift before you have finished the implementation phase.

The other is that it creates a monolithic tool set across your organization. In this app-centric age, there is much advantage to allowing teams to continuously choose best-in-class tools to carry out their specific tasks. The job of your intranet is to glue everyone together; it need not be the sole place work gets done.


Choose a social intranet that makes it easy for people to link and share information from the tools they choose to use.

Jostle intranets provide many ways to link and share information.

The problem of low intranet participation

Most important of all, for your intranet to succeed everyone in your organization needs to be an active participant. It needs to be a vibrant, go-to place that is easy for everyone in your organization to use. You need to know that information shared there gets to the right people and gets read.


Shut down legacy systems that your intranet replaces, such as phone directories and email newsletters.

Jostle intranets have a weekly digest newsletter, phone directory and org chart built in.

5x engagement

Jostle - the radically better intranet

Jostle’s intranet platform makes it easy to implement a social intranet free of all these problems. We deliver intranets with employee participation rates of over 85% (median measured across all our customers). That’s 5X industry norms.