Enterprise social network or ESN is one of the must-have platforms in every large organization’s workplace tech stack. 

In our private lives, we are used to social media platforms to connect with people, communicate, and find content relevant to our interests. 

Today, employees expect the same digital experience in the workplace

In this blog, we will define ESN, explain its benefits, and list the most important features and popular solutions in the market.

What Is an Enterprise Social Network

An enterprise social network (ESN) is a workplace technology that allows employees within an organization to connect, collaborate, and communicate with each other in a social media-like environment.

According to Business Research Insights

the global enterprise social networking (ESN) market size was $2782.8 million in 2021 and is projected to touch $12906.28 million by 2031, exhibiting a CAGR of 16.5% during the forecast period.

Some of the major driving factors include:

  • Increased demand for streamlined communications 
  • Increased adoption of cloud-based technology
  • Inclusive corporate culture and need for social informal communication

ESNs typically include features such as employee profiles, user directories, news feeds, social posts, 1-to-1 and group messaging, file sharing, content creation and distribution features, and others.

The primary purpose of an enterprise social network is to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing among employees and achieve better organizational alignment. By providing a digital space for employees to engage with personalized content, onboard more efficiently, interact, and share ideas, ESNs can enhance internal communication, foster innovation, and improve productivity within the organization.

How Organizations Can Benefit from Enterprise Social Networks

Let’s dig deeper into some of the biggest benefits of using enterprise social networks in your organization. 

1. Higher employee engagement 

According to a study from Gallup only 36% of employees are engaged in the workplace, and 13% are actively disengaged. 

Today, many internal communications professionals still struggle with low employee engagement with their internal communications campaigns. One of the biggest reasons for that is content irrelevancy and lack of digital personalization.  

McKinsey research found that companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players.


Enterprise social networks allow internal communications professionals to create more personalized and relevant content for every employee, resulting in the overall higher employee engagement and improved employee experience

2. Improved employee productivity

Enterprise social networks can significantly improve employee productivity in many different ways. 

For example, by using ESNs, employees should be able to find relevant information more easily and quickly. And information search is known to be one of the biggest productivity killers today. 

Furthermore, well-integrated ESNs can also significantly reduce the cost of app-switching. More specifically, employees can save time from application-switching reductions by 24%

3. Easier team collaboration and knowledge sharing

Centralized employee directories and profiles enable employees to find peers with specific skills, knowledge, expertise, and experience. This allows for improved team and cross-functional collaboration as well as more efficient knowledge-sharing, especially in large and distributed organizations. 

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, employees who used social tools at work were 31% more likely to find coworkers with the right expertise to help them with a job goal, and 88% more likely to know who could put them in touch with the right person. 


4. Faster onboarding

Studies show that employees are 69% more likely to stay if they experience stellar onboarding, whereas, another study reveals that 31% of new recruits leave the company within 6 months of joining.

Centralized content, and easy access to tools, information, and people can improve the overall onboarding process and experience. On the other hand, chaotic onboarding can be stressful for employees and have a negative impact on their future performance and job satisfaction. 

Enterprise social networks enable organizations to better structure their onboarding processes and procedures. All the onboarding documents, materials, videos, and other resources can be organized so that the experience becomes more personalized to each employee

5. Culture of belonging 

According to Gallagher’s research, 82% of respondents who report into an internal communication department chose culture and belonging as their purpose. The right technology enables IC professionals to practice and nurture inclusive, open, and transparent communications which create a sense of trust and belonging and build a sense of community in the workplace

The benefits of creating such a culture are inevitable – according to research, a high sense of belonging increases job performance by as much as 56%. It reduces staff turnover risk by 50% and sick days by 75%.


6. Streamlined employee advocacy

Some enterprise social networks offer built-in functionalities to boost and streamline employee advocacy initiatives

For example, Haiilo enables employees to easily share company-generated content to their private social networks with just a few clicks. The gamification features create healthy competition among peers and motivate employees to act as brand ambassadors. 

Learn about why large organizations choose Haiilo for their Enterprise Social Network!

Features to Look for In an Enterprise Social Network

When choosing an ENS for your organization, make sure to look for these features and functionalities: 

1. Accessibility

Your company’s ESN should be accessible to every employee, regardless of their location and job function. 

Oftentimes, the mobile and frontline workforce don’t have the same kind of access to important company information and updates compared to office employees. 

Hence, when looking for an enterprise social network, make sure that it comes with a native mobile app and that even employees without a company email can use it. 


2. Employee profiles and directories

One of the important features of every ESN is intuitive, searchable, and informative employee profiles and company directories. 

This feature is particularly beneficial for distributed and remote workplaces where employees don’t see each other in person. 

Using directories, employees should easily find and connect with their peers and colleagues with specific job titles, skills, and interests, located in different locations or departments. 

3. Customization and white labeling

Your organization’s enterprise social networks should feel like a digital home for every employee. Most large organizations want to match the look and feel of their ESN with the company’s branding guidelines. 

Furthermore, some solutions offer custom fields and solutions to meet specific needs and existing business workflows of any organization. 

4. Audience segmentation and personalization

According to research, around 50% of communication and HR professionals say that their technology doesn’t allow them to serve content based on employees’ interests, and targeting based on engagement is even lower. 

Consequently, communications and HR professionals cannot serve personalized content on their enterprise social networks, resulting in poor employee experience and engagement

Robust audience segmentation and targeting is one of the must-haves to look for in your ESN!

5. Content creation and distribution

Internal communications professionals are usually the owners and main stakeholders of enterprise social networks in their organizations. 

For them, one of the most important ESN features and functionalities is easy content creation, streamlined content collaboration, and seamless content distribution

If you are currently evaluating solutions for your organization, look for a tool that:

  1. Leverages generative AI for faster content creation
  2. Integrates with various internal communications channels for more efficient content distribution
  3. Comes with an intuitive content builder that allows you to create beautiful and engaging content and 
  4. Enables you to collaborate with other departments and streamline feedback and approval workflows

📹 Check out how internal communicators can create content 10x faster with Haiilo!

6. Employee feedback and sentiment tracking

Not every ESN comes with this functionality, but it’s a great add-on to look for. 

Solutions like Haiilo come with built-in employee surveys to capture employee feedback about certain activities or regularly measure employee sentiment, engagement, satisfaction, and other people-related KPIs. 

If the solution is AI-powered, the benefits are even bigger. AI can identify patterns and provide insights from data collected from employee feedback and employee surveys. This information is valuable for understanding employee sentiment, preferences, and concerns as well as defining necessary activities for improvement. 

7. AI-powered search

The most advanced ESN solutions use AI to significantly improve information search. 

For example, Haiilo leverages AI to make information search seamless for employees. When employees have a specific work-related question, they get an answer instead of a list of different links and resources to work with. Think Google Search versus ChatGPT. When you perform a search on Google you get pages and pages of links with content that may or may not be relevant. With ChatGPT you get a comprehensive, clear, and easily consumable answer to your question. 

This is a game-changer in the world of information overload which is one of the biggest productivity killers for employees and organizations across the globe. 

8. Employee advocacy

As mentioned earlier, some ESN vendors come with functionalities to boost employee advocacy and brand ambassadorship

When employees can easily find relevant content and share it on their personal networks in seconds, they are much more likely to become your organization’s brand advocates, boost brand awareness, increase sales, and help with talent acquisition efforts. 

9. Integrations with the existing tech stack

Integrations with your organization’s existing tech stack are critical to getting the most out of your enterprise social network. 

Depending on your organization’s existing tech stack, you might want to look for ESN tools that integrate with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Slack, project management solutions, or other common workplace tools

As nicely written in his annual report, Josh Bersin, the world’s well-known HR tech analyst, predicted that:

the industry’s emphasis this year will be on improving the employee experience through apps that are easy to use and integrate with existing tools. This “EX layer” includes communications, surveys, case and knowledge management…

10. Analytics

Advanced analytics features can help you track and measure employee and content engagement within your ESN. 

You should be able to understand what type of content resonates with your audience the most and adjust your internal communications strategy accordingly. 

Understanding which employees engage the most and act as brand ambassadors can help you recognize and reward them to drive motivation among others as well. 

Last but not least, survey analytics should give you valuable insights about the current state of your workforce, improve engagement, and prevent high turnover rates

Best Enterprise Social Networks In the Market

Now let’s take a look at some of the best vendors in the market. 



Haiilo is a modern enterprise social network used by large organizations across the globe. It helps internal communications and HR professionals build inclusive, engaged, informed, and connected workplaces. 

Organizations choose Haiilo because of its flexibility and the unique combination of multi-channel communications, intranet, and employee listening software. Haiilo provides a unified platform, that evolves with you and ensures seamless alignment with organizational goals and enhanced business outcomes.

Furthermore, Haiilo continuously leads the evolution of generative AI in employee communications. Through GenAI, Haiilo’s Artificial Virtual Assistant (AVA) enriches employee communications enabling communicators and employees to save time and create value every day.

Microsoft Viva Engage


This platform allows you to connect with your coworkers, and engage in social communities created around interests, job types, departments, and other topics.

It helps internal communications professionals keep employees informed and engaged with various types of announcements wherever they are.

An interesting feature called Leadership Corner enables employees to engage with leaders, catch up on their latest posts, discover their communities, and attend “Ask Me Anything” sessions.

Zoho Workplace


Zoho Workplace is an integrated suite of applications that empowers your team to level up their productivity. Workplace contains a feature-rich email service, a file management tool, and an office and collaboration suite. 

The platform also provides a new generation of social media-style collaboration for your mailbox

Last but not least, ZOHO Connect is a social intranet solution for organization-wide collaborations, where you can share ideas, spark discussions, and strengthen the work culture in your office. The built-in knowledge base enables employees to gain access to information such as HR and compliance records that they might need.

Check out our report on the synergy of multichannel communication and employee listening, featuring Forrester!

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