As the name implies, an enterprise social network (ESN) is an internal, private social network inside a company. ESNs grew out of the larger consumer social networking revolution of the early 2000s, with the goal of enabling faster, more fluid communication inside organizations and build stronger employee connections.
The basic ESN functioned like a “virtual water cooler” – a place where company personnel could make new connections and quickly share information. Unfortunately, this type of pure ESN proved to better for casual back-and-forth and talking about work than it was for getting work done. Filled with unorganized conversations and noise, the typical ESN became a time sink, and many companies abandoned them. Others have relegated them to non-essential status, used mostly for social connection, not business-critical functions.