Community is making a comeback.
While we still may not know our neighbours, many of us have become well acquainted with people online who share similar interests to us. So it’s only natural that this way of building relationships and collaborating has seeped into the workplace.
But while local communities of the previous century didn’t need a community manager to moderate their various activities, the same can’t be said of our modern equivalents.
As enterprise social networks (ESN) become a key channel for communication within many organisations, it’s important that we as internal communicators understand how to maximise the benefits they can bring to businesses, as well as support and encourage our colleagues to use them.
Giving employees a voice in this way, inevitably creates a lot of noise and managing that noise is not for the faint-hearted. But fear not, we’ve put together our top tips for community management success.
Be a people person
While it may seem like an obvious statement, and you would hope most internal communicators come with an in-built curiosity and interest in their fellow human beings, it would be remiss not to mention it. We’re not just talking about being interested in the latest office gossip, but genuinely caring about what’s important to people.
Whenever you bring large groups of people together, there will be situations where people don’t agree, or conversation becomes heated. Having empathy and being able to put yourself in the shoes of both sides, will help you to facilitate a constructive conversation.
It’s easy for unglamorous tasks to be put to one side and left, but before you know it your ESN will become an unwieldly behemoth.
The very nature of a community should mean that it pretty much runs itself. However, it’s important to not take that for granted.
Plan content to post if things go quiet, schedule time in once a week to monitor activity and close inactive groups, and make a habit of regularly skimming content to check conversations remain respectful and that no one’s post goes unanswered.
Join the dots
Curation is the new buzz word in our industry.
Gone are the days of content creation, instead it’s more important that we have a keen eye for good content and interesting questions, that we can help promote and elevate. We also need to be well networked within the organisation so we can bring people with similar interests or skills together. It’s about being an omniscient observer, able to step in and support where necessary, but also comfortable with relinquishing editorial control and just letting people get on with it, even if that does mean accepting that the odd grammatical mistake will creep in.
Have a head for numbers
For the first time we can see what people think and feel about, and how they respond to comms in real time.
Proving the value we add to a business is the holy grail for internal communicators. But we may have found it in the form of an ESN. Not only can we measure the effectiveness of the platform itself, but we can also measure engagement and the effectiveness of our campaigns.
It’s an opportunity not to be missed, so it’s imperative you’re clear up front what success looks like (for the platform itself and the communications you share on it) and invest time in understanding the metrics your ESN can provide.
Ensuring people understand what your role is, is essential. You’re not there to load content on for people, to run their groups for them or fix technical issues. The sooner people realise that, the easier it will be for you to get on with actually managing the community. Your time should be spent building relationships, encouraging interaction, training and measurement (and as always, a small amount admin – see Get organised above).
So for internal communicators that are about to start their community service, remember it’ll be challenging at times, but it complements the skill set you already have. It’s a fantastic opportunity to tap into what our people really think and how they feel, so, let’s bring community back into our organisations and reap the rewards.
Got a top community management tip? We’d love to hear it – get in touch with us on Twitter.
By Helen Deverell for Alive!