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Delivering a top notch community service

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.

Get organised

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.

Promote yourself

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!

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“Love it. I will pass to the boss, but I think it's awesome.”

Matt Fletcher — Met Police

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“Boom!
Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“I have worked with Alive with Ideas for many years now and they are by far the best Ideas and design company I have ever worked with (I’d even go as far as to say the best company of any sort that I’ve ever worked with). They are an incredibly talented and creative team, who are normal human beings, completely grounded, totally down to earth, approachable, friendly and an overall joy to work with.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q