Steps for managing an internal online community

1. Prepare

Organise a first meeting to help people know each other and get connected:

  • Co-create rules.
  • Identify champions and share the burden – give responsibilities, it is a collective initiative.
  • Define the vision and key success factors.

2. Design

  • Offer a central workspace for the work which has to be done.
  • Invite some co-workers – champions, those who are keen to start the journey, the “that’s a great idea!” people, to have a first look. Based on their feedback, review the collaborative space and develop guidance material.
  • Structure – a “top content” section, a library, conversations…
  • Keep the technology simple to be successful and invest in « killing » functionalities – quick polls, metadata, co-authoring, for instance.

3. Implement

  • Invite all co-workers.
  • Promote training opportunities – for self-learning also.
  • Welcome – behind the scenes, in an intimate fashion – and remind co-workers to complete profiles and set-up alerts as well as following models to get the most of the tool.
  • Accompany the development of successful cases.

4. Develop

  • Work mainly behind the scenes. A healthy community should not need a community manager, in theory.
  • Gather success stories in a dedicated space.
  • Inspire Trust, and Model respectful communication techniques that co-workers can learn from.
  • Send an email digest on a regular basis, linking directly to conversations happening in the space.
  • Curate content.
  • Make content gardening – tag, notify people, new titles for documents, etc.
  • Follow the Community’s lead.

5. Animate

  • Foresee a community management action plan. Make building relationships a priority in this community management plan.
  • Organize events – chat sessions, webinars, quick polls, crowd-sourcing activities,..
  • Notify experts to reenergize conversations – if need be!
  • If you need to energize the community, one option is to let co-workers swap roles and perform another function for a day. They will gain a better appreciation of how people need to work together.
  • Actively listen « if you read, like »
  • Invite new members. Inject new blood who will then « revigorate the community ».
  • Use peer-engagement techniques.
  • If conflicts or misinterpretations arise, be the first to seek a resolution.

6. Monitor

  • Monitor activity on a regular basis. Compare with the average activity in other groups.
  • Identify influencers.

7. Wrap-up

  • Close the space and archive content.
  • Reward most active participants.
  • Promote best conversations yielding business outcomes.

8. Analyze

  • Exchange lessons learnt with other community managers.
  • Compare results.
  • Develop a business case for the organization.

Sunday thoughts (1)

For an individual willing to adopt new working methods, the road is littered with obstacles. It takes a fierce energy to brave the unknown and uncover the mysteries of digital transformation.

Some projects, such as event management, briefing coordination or communities of practice, need to adopt new ways of working. Technology at our fingertips allow us to bypass certain limitations: lack of transparency, loss of energy in the coordination of different versions of documents, slowdown or even total lack of collaboration between the physical meetings or dispersion of information.
The initiative does not seem downright adventurous. Therefore, logically, solutions should be implemented in a natural way.

So we are investing in a technology that will override the barriers to collaboration. Once launched, we maintain our collaborative habits, and publish tirelessly to exhaustion. But very few people react. Our reputation may be tarnished. Two solutions: abandon or rethink how to “engage”.

Many dropouts on the road. Too bad, perseverance often offers a fruitful harvest with results exceeding all expectations.

To engage an audience and bring it to continued collaboration in more open environments, here’s three things to think about:

  • As online community manager, the goal is to move towards invisibility. A community that works should not need a community manager, in theory.
  • Preparing content is essential. Everyone should be able to find, upon arrival in the collaborative space, items of interest, related to specific needs. A community needs to be segmented into different roles for this reason.
  • Technology must be simplified to the very basic needs. If members require more technology, this is a sign that the community supports the initiative. The project can finally be continued in co-creation mode.