Wednesday, 7 December 2011

#CIPDSocial11 & Social Engagement – in the socialmedia garden


night garden flower   I’ve had a couple of conversations with Michael Silverman, Unilever’s ex-head of engagement research, since meeting him at a Symposium event earlier this year (eg at CHRU, and the Personnel Today awards, where Michael and Unilever won the award for the best use of HR technology).

Michael uses a new research tool called Opinion Space, developed with Hybrid Wisdom Labs, which uses the new technique of ‘collaborative discovery’ to help communities suggest ideas and develop understanding about particular issues – eg engagement.

I have to say I don’t really understand the full science behind this:

(Taken from Info and Help)


(!!!)  But to me, the benefit of the technology is largely the same as any social media tool – 1, it allows people to collaborate together and 2, it’s visually appealing.  Add these two points together and it means that it’s fun and compelling.

As I wrote before, this is quite useful in engagement research.  I agree with Michael on this – it seems oddly dissonant that the tool most organisations use to measure engagement generally disengages people.  It’s another area that shouts out to be social medialised!

To give people a chance to experience the technology for themselves, Michael is running an open access research study.  And since it’s run using social media, we thought it would be interesting to apply it to the use of social media.

The starting point is to answer five questions about social media as well as contributing a suggestion about the main barriers for organisations adopting social media.

  1. Using external social media sites at work makes people less productive.  (Yes, I think it can!)
  2. I feel heavily involved in social media.  (Err, yeah!)
  3. My organisation has embraced social media.  (This one was was difficult for me to answer, so I thought about my average HR client!)
  4. HR is best placed to lead social media. (I think it should.)
  5. Successful implementation of social media is about technology not leadership. (Absolutely not!)


So these were my responses:


“HR still hasn't woken up to the opportunities provided by social for media.  In so many organisations which do use social networks if you look at the departmental take-up, everyone is there (led by IT) but not HR.  I hope the CIPD conference and this research will help generate a bit more interest.”


The thing about the garden is that then the whizzy technology displays your responses as a ‘bloom’ within a garden, where surrounding blooms are the other participant responses which are most similar to yours.  Or something.  Neat, anyway.


And then the even more neat bit it that you can vote and comment on other people’s suggestions (which changes the size and colour of the blooms).  It’s this social experience which is the key innovation for me.

Anyway, here are some slides from Michael on the results so far:


If you want to try the system out, and / or contribute to the research, you’ll be able to get an access code – here – soon (sometime in early January).  Have fun!



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