I see many companies that are trying to get on the social media bandwagon, so they can say they are “doing social”.

I’m not not talking about companies just setting up a Twitter feed, or a Facebook page – instead those companies that want to encourage their workforce to start to really use social media, and better engage with customers, an collaborate internally.

While you cannot mandate that people use social media, you can encourage them to use it so they can see the benefits first-hand.

In my experience, this is much easier to say than to do.

Short of putting it in your contract, a company cannot “force you to be social”.

Imagine if you worked for a sports marketing agency, but you didn’t do a lot of sports. It would be strange to tell you that you HAVE to play lots of sports. If it wasn’t your thing then it would just be seen as a chore, you might do it for a while, then leave the company.

Back in 2010, one of my clients in Australia was trying to set up an “eminence program” to make their consultants more “googleable” (their words not mine).

The intent was sound – have their star consultants be known and famous for the area the worked in, so that when you googled a particular topic, their name came up as someone knowledgable in this space.

What we did was to find articles and tweets for them to share (in effect working as specialised researchers for them). The onus was then on the consultants to share and tweet.

I can even remember meetings in Melbourne where I was literally getting them to sign up to twitter in the conference room, helping them write their bio and send their first tweet.

The program worked well for those already comfortable with social media – and those stars really stood out.

The other 98% of people we worked with were really not that comfortable with social, so it took a lot longer – and some didn’t do anything all with the information we provided them.

I am on record as saying that back in 2007 when I first signed up to Twiter, I thought that it was “the biggest waste of time”. I was proven wrong and now even my Wife pulls me up for always being on Twitter. You really have to use these platforms as a natural extension of what you do to truly understand the benefits.

In order to drive social media adoption (for the benefit of the company as well as an employee’s own brand), you need to make it fun, and then they will be encouraged to use it and adopt it at their own rate.

Here the saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is entirely appropriate.

One real world example of this is with the smart folks at Ogilvy in London.

Around 12 months ago, I spoke with Leo Ryan (@LeoTwit), head of social for Ogilvy London about how we could use our Kred leaderboards to get the Ogilvy staff more interested in social media.

What was important was giving them a reason to use social networks, make it fun and gamify the experience.

So what we did was build a leaderboard (it is live at london.kred.com and added the @names of Ogilvy staff to the board, ranking each of them by their Kred score.

What Leo did to gamify it was offer the person who was the most improved each month a Kindle.

The grand prize, at the end of 12 months, goes to the person with the most improved Kred score and they receive an all expenses paid trip to the South by Southwest event (SXSW) in March in Austin, Texas.

Leo spoke about the reasons behind the move back on his blog in March last year, and you can also watch short video of me explaining this at the Social Bakers Engage conference in London in April 2013.

[vimeo 64842947 w=520&h=315]
You can see below how the board looked in February 2013 and below this how it looked in February 2012.

As outlined on Leo’s blog post

The leader board uses Kred’s algorithm to assess the Influence and Outreach of the participating Ogilvy staffers relative to the rest of the participants. The person who improves their score the most over the year will attend SXSW Interactive 2013 as the social correspondent for Ogilvy London. Along the way we’ll be giving out monthly prizes for new entrants, high scores and epic acts of outreach.

At 61 participants as of Sunday March 4th we’re at about 5% penetration of the Ogilvy Group UK after only 2 weeks. My goal is to get it to 25% of the entire agency by the end of the year with an even spread across the operating companies and roles. I’ll post quarterly updates and let you know what strategies we’ve been using to drive involvement. I’d be delighted to hear of success you’ve had in your organisation, especially if I can share it here.

This is such a simple way of making it fun to go social, and I have seen much competition from the London Ogilvy folks as the competition progressed.

The upshot is now more of their staff are on twitter, and externally, Ogilvy can show the calibre of people in the agency listed by their Kred score.

We have provided this for a number of large agencies in the UK and the US and the reaction has been fantastic – it makes social fun!