Retailer Best Buy internal social network gives employees voice and management insights

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Retailer Best Buy internal sociaGary Koelling and Steve Bendt were Best Buy advertising guys in search of better information about the customer experience. Their first stop was the blue shirt sales associates on the floor of Best Buy stores who interact with customers everyday.

In their quest they developed an internal communications platform that generated thousands of conversations across the company. The result, more information, more issues, more solutions, more ideas, more impact — and a corporate culture that is beginning to appreciate that buy-in brings out the best in employees.

I visited Best Buy to interview Gary and Steve who are now senior managers for social technology based on the success of their 18 month experiment. They acknowledge that their focus on listening to the type of environment the employees wanted was essential for the employees participation. Without that they knew they would have nothing.

The images in this post are from Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation social network. Fun and interesting. Certainly designed to set a certain mood and create a welcoming atmosphere. They were inspired by Blue Shirt Nation users as Steve and Gary listened to their thoughts about making the site user-friendly.

Here’s my take on what they found as essential elements to a successful corporate social network platform.

  1. Bottom up process to let users of the site help build the platform
  2. Management that is willing to discover what their employees are capable of innovating
  3. A willingness to act on the good ideas hashed out in the conversation of the group
  4. Listen all the time to the conversations inspired by the users.

On a technology note, Blue Shirt Nation was built with the open source code Drupal

I will have more on this topic at a presentation I’m giving at the Society for New Communications Research NewComm Forum April 22-25, in Sonoma County, CA – A host of great speakers including Shel Holtz, Paul Gillin, and Joseph Jaffe among others.

Get in on the January book giveaway the New Influencers by emailing me at and in the subject line put New Influencers. Good luck the drawing is January 31.