The Psychology Behind Social Software

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social software psychology

With Facebook reporting over 1 billion users and Twitter estimating that more than 400 million tweets are sent each day, there’s no doubt that social sharing is a powerful phenomenon. But far from being a simple trend, the psychology that underpins this interpersonal sharing has the potential to make or break the success of your social software launch.

Understanding the motivations that drive different employees to both adopt and actively participate in social software programs enables you to tailor your system’s launch for maximum success. Truly, your ability to cater to each of the individual motivation types described below will determine whether your implementation fails to garner the necessary support amongst your employees or whether it succeeds in meeting your information management objectives.

With this in mind, let’s look at a few of the different reasons people share information with each other, as well as how these intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can be used to increase employee buy-in to an Enterprise Q&A system like Quandora.

People share to demonstrate authority

In the case of most social software programs, a certain percentage of users will share their information and responses in order to establish themselves as authority users.  This may be done out of an internal desire to showcase valuable information that’s acquired over time or as a means of securing recognition from external sources, including managers and company owners.

Whatever the case may be, these users can be encouraged by recognizing the top users of your social software program, as these participants tend to be the most prolific responders. For example, if you’re using Quandora or a similar solution to manage your organization’s flow of internal information, recognizing the names of those who post the most answers in your company newsletter could help to ensure that this group finds the recognition they need to continue participating.

People share for social validation

In other situations, the people who use social software programs don’t do so to prove their authority to their coworkers and bosses – they do it for the social acceptance that comes from being part of a larger system. These users tend to be less interested in being viewed as authority figures and are more concerned that their contributions position them in a favorable light with their peers.

To motivate these users to continually participate in your software initiative, set goals that require all team members to contribute a certain number of posts or answers each month. This will give employees who seek social validation the necessary framework in which to structure their actions, while encouraging other team members who don’t feel this particular pull to share their knowledge as well.

People share to motivate others to a way of thinking

In rare cases, employees aren’t motivated to use Enterprise Q&A programs out of the desire to be recognized by others, but instead seek to sway others within your organization to a certain way of thinking. This situation occurs most frequently when certain corporate processes are contentious, with different employees struggling to have their version of internal best practices recognized by others.

Obviously, this is a situation that must be managed carefully, as “in-fighting” within your Enterprise Q&A program can lead to hurt feelings and misinformation. Nip any such situations you encounter in the bud by encouraging managers to monitor the responses shared by their team members in the early stages of software implementation in order to ensure that internal disputes don’t get out of hand.

People share out of duty or incentive

Finally, be aware that some employees on your team will engage with your social software program because it’s the right thing to do or because of any incentives you decide to offer for participation.

Employees who are motivated by a sense of duty or obligation will be the easiest to convince to take part in your new program, as they won’t require much encouragement on your end to post questions and answers of their own. Employees who need incentives to participate are just as easy to sway, provided you offer the types of simple rewards that motivate them sufficiently into adopting your new system.

Keep in mind that – in most cases – incentives don’t need to be large to encourage these team members to play an active role in your Enterprise Q&A program. Small rewards or recognition opportunities show that their efforts are valued, improving the level of overall engagement with your new system without much effort or financial investment on your part.

Looking for a great way to ask questions and build knowledge with your co-workers? Quandora enables simple, efficient knowledge sharing with your team, way more fun than a mailing list or a forum.

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