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Delivering a top notch community service

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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

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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 — 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

“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