"Then the users themselves start to see the value of connecting with employees easier and having an immersive experience," says Finn. "You get the users' attention, and it builds."
Tackle Distributed Knowledge Problems First
Social networking can help in places where knowledge is unevenly distributed within your company. This is likely a geography problem, says Finn, where people in corporate headquarters have information, but the employees who need it are distributed around the world and don't know who to contact.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and previews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]
A social networking platform can also help people in the field who come up with a great idea and need a way to broadcast it to others.
Market the Need, Not the Consumer Phenomenon
Be careful how you pitch a social networking platform to the higher-ups. Calling something "A Facebook or YouTube for the Enterprise" can have a negative connotation, because of privacy issues or the reputation those sites have as time wasters.
You want to use the consumer technologies of Facebook or YouTube, says Finn, but avoid advertising it that way if you have an older, skeptical executives.
Create a Distinct Identity
Give your social site its own name and design, so it looks different from the rest of your intranet. The aim: get users excited about something that's unique and not just another SharePoint site.
Some examples: Microsoft's Academy Mobile podcasting site and (Microsoft customer) British TeleCom's social networking site called "Dare to Share." Both have catchy names and distinctive designs, which Finn says can "create positive word-of-mouth buzz."
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Another advantage of creating a distinct identity, he adds, is that it "doesn't appear as if 'The Man' is mandating all the content."
Start Small, Grow Quickly
Do not base a social networking roll-out on the notion of "Build it and they will come," says Finn. Even the most amazing social sites will fall on deaf ears if they don't solve business problems, he says.
Instead, find groups of people - be it developers, designers or salespeople - and start small by creating online communities for them based on common interests and goals.
"If you create all these new communities and too many people aren't part of those communities, they will ask: 'Why do i need this'?" says Finn.