Only 10% of enterprise social networking schemes succeed

Although social networking technologies are employed by 70% of organisations, only 10% are successful at using them as most take a "provide and pray" approach, according to Gartner.

Gartner studied the social collaboration initiatives taken by 1,000 organisations around the world, and found the poor 10% success rate.

"Without a well-crafted and compelling purpose most social media initiatives will fail to deliver business value," said Gartner analyst Anthony Bradley. "A provide and pray approach provides access to a social collaboration technology and prays something good comes of it, like a community forming and participants' interactions naturally delivering business value."

Bradley continued: "This approach sees a poor success rate and the underlying reason is usually that the organisation did not provide a compelling cause around which a community could form, and be motivated to provide their time and knowledge. In other words, a purpose was lacking."

Gartner has identified some characteristics of a good social networking roll-out:

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Participant magnetism - The purpose should naturally motivate people to participate. This is the "what's in it for me" characteristic. Users should easily grasp its importance and the value of participating.

Community draw - The purpose must resonate with enough people to catalyse a community and deliver robust user-generated content. The best communities are heavily unbalanced in their two-way approaches, meaning that the community contributes far more content than the supporting enterprise.

Organisational value - The purpose should have a clear business outcome. This is the "what's in it for the organisation" characteristic. Choose purposes where organisational value can be clearly measured and shared with the community.

Promoting evolution - Select purposes that you and the community can build on.