“Social Intranet”: I think we’re on to something

In March 2009, Darren and I were planning the launch of ThoughtFarmer 3.5 and a new web site. We had previously marketed ThoughtFarmer as “intranet 2.0″, a “wiki intranet”, and as “social software”. But none of those terms felt like they captured the essence of ThoughtFarmer.

Jive had come out with their “social business” positioning. We were looking at their web site, when one of us cried (I can’t remember who), “Social Intranet! That’s what we are!” And in May 2009, we launched our new web site proclaiming ThoughtFarmer as Social Intranet Software.

That’s the first use of the term I had seen. But I’ve been stoked over the last few months to see the term co-opted by many intranet consultants and competitors:

Aug 23, 2010 Oscar Berg publishes the brilliant article, “The business case for social intranets
Sep 30, 2010 Dion Hinchcliffe blogs on “Social Intranets: Enterprises Grapple with Internal Change
Oct 28, 2010 We sponsor the Social Intranet Summit in Vancouver
Nov 5, 2010 MindTouch announces MindTouch Social Intranet
Dec 15, 2010 Toby Ward’s 5 Intranet Predictions for 2011 includes “The Social Intranet Expands Its Reach
Jan 10, 2011 SocialText announces webinar: “Social Intranets: Hype or Change Agent?

On Google Insights, we see that “social intranet” only began appearing on the radar in 2010 (the spike at “A” is the Social Intranet Summit):

Google Insights Trend: Social Intranet

Similarly, our Google Analytics report on visits to thoughtfarmer.com from the term “social intranet” shows steady growth through 2010:

Google Analytics for thoughtfarmer.com on term social intranet

Additionally, our SEO consulting firm Outcome3 tells me that “social intranet” gets about 10% as many searches on Google as “intranet software”. For a new term, that’s impressive.

And finally, ThoughtFarmer, the original social intranet software solution, saw 86% revenue growth in 2010.

All this is a long way to say: I believe social intranets are poised for phenomenal growth in 2011. Indeed, with few exceptions, every new inquiry we get is from an organization looking for a social intranet, whether or not they refer to it as such. I’m glad we had a part in creating this wave; I intend to ride it.

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