Social Media in the Large Enterprise (SMiLE) is 'Europe's leading conference for internal communications professionals who have - or are setting up - an employee social network for their organisation'. Run by Simply Communicate and sponsored this year by Yammer and other big, bold names, I was lucky enough to attend on Monday. If I wrote about the whole event from beginning to end, I fear I'd be here all day (and quite possibly lose you before the end) so I've picked out the highlights of my day:

  • Pearson's Neo platform replaced 170 intranets so it's a big deal and a great employee social network that also allows you to invite external influences to join. They've used gamification by introducing digital badges, but the really clever bit is that the badge you have to win first to be able to move on and win more is the 'profile completion' badge - see what they did there? The team also don't let on exactly how badges can be won which introduces a nice dose of curiosity and an atmosphere of healthy competition surrounds the platform!
  • Thomson Reuters achieved an 85% usage rate on their internal platform called The Hub which is  four times the average industry participation level. Larraine Solomon took a massive plunge and decided to stop sending out important information via email, but instead put it on The Hub. This meant that some people were turning up to meetings knowing more than others because they'd seen it on The Hub, in turn encouraging more to go there. Employees learnt that in order to be up-to-date they had to use the platform, full stop. The Hub has also slashed 30% of travel. Wow.

SMiLE-conferenceThe three things I noted to be common themes throughout the day were that 1) getting senior leader buy-in when launching a social media platform is still extremely helpful, 2)  middle managers seem to consistently be a challenge but they  are the connectors in an organisation and can be very valuable and 3) creating a bit of healthy competition online can be just the thing to encourage employees to join, and actively involve themselves in a platform.

And finally, Monday was certainly a day for fantastic pearls of wisdom. I took away a few quotes (that I wish I'd said first) that were incredibly sensible (in no particular order):

'You cannot survive using the tools of yesterday', CEO of the European Commission.

On Grundfos using Yammer as a social platform, the top tips were: harness the energy around the platform and have a clear purpose. Martin Risgaard (ex Grundfos employee, now Yammer employee) advised people moving to Yammer to 'form a YES team, they are the green dots in the organisation where the energy. They get it and they want to spread the word'.

'We have the organisation in our pocket (pulls out her phone), our employees are always connected'. Julie Guegan from the European Commission.

Larraine Soloman from Thomson Reuters said: 'it's essential for employees to see progress is being made against the things they've said in an engagement survey'.

Ben Thompson, Johnson Matthey summarised internal social media security as 'as open as possible and as restricted as necessary'.

'Why do we have to share? Because everything that is not shared is lost' - Jean-Luc Abelin, Larfage.

'Budget 20% for the tool, 80% for the change management. It is very easy to buy a new tool. Changing the mindsets is hard' - Jean-Luc Abelin, on knowledge sharing at Larfage.