Would love to hear insights on how others have handled internal teams just not fully using the “community”. I believe is does add greater value to the customer experience.
When we work with clients, part of the early process is interviewing stakeholders. I use that opportunity to ensure that the key people really understand what community means on a practical level, and also how long they realistically take to show a ROI. In some cases it might mean doing a formal presentation to the leadership team, or to smaller subsets of the organisation.
Is your sticking point finding ways to communicate the message, or is it a lack of willingness on their part to listen?
good question - something time will reveal
How to Address Internal Obstacles to Growing Your Community?
Is your community internal facing or customer facing @tamaraparris ?
My first community management role was an internal community for a large UK insurer. I had a real job on there in terms of a HUGE change in culture, right across the hierarchical spectrum. I would sit in meetings with middle managers and be categorically told by some that they would never use the community, whilst I had several of the C-suite right on board with the concept but telling me that they would struggle to find the time to contribute!
Now I work for a cloud software company and the vast majority of people here “get it”. The community I manage is customer facing and even though we get it internally, we have had struggles getting people to contribute from the internal population, but being able to show them where the value lies for them has really helped people engage in there, especially from our product team.
From experience, getting people’s buy in very heavily depends on this last part for me - showing them the value, the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM). Once our product team started to see how they could leverage our community for getting volunteers for beta testing and feedback/insight, there was no stopping them and they’re probably all engaged in the community now, getting pulled in to other conversations by the members they connect with , which is great.
What sort of conversations are you having that lead you to think they don’t get community? And who are you having them with?
It is both public and client facing; I am not having any conversations with Senior level Management about our community,
I do speak with one person, our product manager, about the community goals and direction.
re: What sort of conversations are you having that lead you to think they don’t get community? > it is more statements and actions that communicate the disconnect for example; they ignore or delete the daily digest with questions from clients - which would be an excellent customer service op, say their job does not include using the community, or they ask me to post their content for them.
We are trying to change the employee perception about engaging in the community.
What’s your why @tamaraparris ? What’s the reason for launching a community and what are you as a business trying achieve in having it? It sounds like there is some work to be done internally around use cases for your different departments/team members, look for the different ways that the community can add value to each area. Is it going to reduce incoming support calls? Will it save some people time? What about the potential insight people can get from having your customers engaged with the team you have internally? I always think it’s about showing people how your community can change their lives!
It sounds like there’s a few possible things going on here. In your mind is it:
- The staff don’t understand what a community is / makes it unique?
- They understand but they don’t believe in the benefits of a community?
- They understand the benefits but don’t prioritise it above their existing work?
You can probably work backwards and diagnose it. If you have coffee with 3 to 5 of the people you’re trying to reach and ask why they don’t participate, what do they say?
How are you selling the benefits of the community? How active is it right now? What kind of relationship do you have with the people you’re trying to reach?
If you can give us some more information, we might be able to give even better advice.
Thank you Nick & Richard for your ideas and insights.
The reason for the launch is 1. revamping of the old client community to an updated one 2. creating a public place for an industry specific type of professional 3. lead generation 4. customer engagement for knowledge and idea - collection, sharing and generation, 5. customer service; thru providing medium for client peer to peer support.
Richard - I would hazard a guess at saying there is a mixture of all three points through the company.
When I arrived no one visited the community; from that time I have client members in the 2nd phase of your community life cycle - 100% members post the questions without CM posting, 75% - 80% of time members help each other with no CM assistance, we now have about 4 staff who regularly visit and help without CM prompting and about 10 who, with CM prompting, will come in to help members - 300 staff in company. I would say the staff are still in the 1st phase - so there is a split in the community lifestyle growth.
Have you seen this before?
- I spoke to the product manager for the community; I am now creating a 5 ways to boost our community monthly shout out to staff. This is being sent by email.
This month I am doing how to kick start our community: let me share what I have so far for you thoughts.
**The theme of this post is “getting the community started” –having your insights to say if I am on the right track would be great.
#1. Help Get Word Out - share out our community link. Example; include it in your email signature.
#2: Position Community as Part of our (Company name) Customer Experience – let clients know about the community during your support, sales or consulting conversations. Remind them; the community is an extension of our (Company name) client offerings.
#3: Network with Members:
Take a moment to go into the community and greet new client members. Take a few minutes to help members network with other members. The community is a social gathering place.
Wondering how? Try using the @mention feature to call people in or acknowledge members.
For example: @xxxxxx nice to meet you I am @tamaraparris ; or …maybe @xxxxxx can help with this question on source code.
#4. Offer Exclusive Content: share out information members can’t get anywhere else on the internet; this will help to keep them coming back for more! For example; maybe you have figured out some unique source code to expand system functionality or you know about an up-date on a members “idea” post – share it in a community conversation.
#5: Valued and Reliable Content; It is key to share answers to members question online in the community forum. Please try your best to keep the conversation online. Research shows clients prefer to use the communication tool they started on, instead of being asked to use an alternative. Also, more member will join in and people will keep interacting.
Hi Tamara, are employees encouraged to spend work time participating in the community? Do management lead by example, or is that one of your current issues?
corporate leadership would really like employees to participate; and I know several senior leaders who do try to encourage their teams. I also know from casual conversations that they would like to promote the community to employees as a place to participate on more.
I would be interested in your thoughts on my post of 5 steps also
[quote=“tamaraparris, post:11, topic:1247”]
I would be interested in your thoughts on my post of 5 steps also
[/quote] No problems. I think the concepts are solid and the intent is excellent. There are a few small things around wording. Here you go:
[quote=“tamaraparris, post:9, topic:1247”]
Make our Community Accessible - share out our community link. Example; include it in your email signature.
[/quote] I’d be a little wary around wording here. Accessible tends to mean the practice of removing barriers that prevent access to websites by people with disabilities. Your point here is a good one but perhaps you could change the wording to “Help get the word out” or something along those lines.
2 and 3 are good, esp with the added tip about tagging.
[quote=“tamaraparris, post:9, topic:1247”]
For example; maybe you know about a work around to a known bug or a problem
[/quote] Does this refer to a known bug in the software that you sell and support? If so, then I’m not sure that offering a solution qualifies as exclusive content – great customer service maybe, but exclusive content is usually something that goes over and above what you should be offering as expected service. That might benefit from rewording.
Hope that helps!
If you were a client, we would treat this as a very bad sign indeed. If you can’t reach out to the people you want to participate in the community, then getting the internal support you need to do that would be the first priority. Whoever you need to have a coffee with, I’d have a coffee with.
The more intermediaries you have go through, the less effective the message is.
But you probably know this already.
So tell me what messages you’re sending out to get people to participate.
What behavior does the community replace? What does the community help people do better? How are you communicating that? Telling people a community exists is easy enough. Telling people what it’s going to replace (i.e. how they find the time for it) is better.
yes it does thank you. I see your points. i will reword and pull another exclusive content example thank you very much @HAWK
@Nancy_Kinder and I are working with a pretty significant internal community in Germany. The culture is 120 years of tradition and this community thing is really new to them.
One thing we’ve had success with, and will continue to push is the point @Nick_Emmett makes with WII.FM. The more we can show real world stories and examples of where “people like me” have had success from the community (through problem solving, skills connections, ideas being implemented) people start to understand why it’s important and what it can do.
Are you able to pull good stories like this out and show the internal team what works?
thank you @Nancy_Kinder - that is a good suggestion. I have done this while at company functions, or water cool talks with various staff. I welcome your feedback as it re-enforces I have been taking the right path. I will continue to think of more and showcase these to more people focusing on their specific WII.FM elements
Q. So tell me what messages you’re sending out to get people to participate.
When I am having casual conversations with people about our community, be it client, staff or public members, I try my best to present that community is a collective social gathering.
Somewhere we can join together to learn and knowledge share.
In my view; it takes everyone working together to form a community. It is key to gain members trust and encourage them to take ownership and become involved.
Community it is not a product; it is a gathering space for people to build and grow from one another.
This is a good question, I have been thinking and I am not sure I have an answer for you.
I know from my professional perspective - to fill a need.
from a company perspective I do not know - not discussed with me.
Hey @tamaraparris I think at a base level you’re 5 steps are fine, you can play around with the wording forever (or I can anyway) but @HAWK makes some great suggestions. For my Communityy focused commuications I try to keep my language and tone as informal as I can , but overall try to portray whichever tone/language you would use from your company and from your community.
However, I don’t think your 5 steps are the issue here. I think the issues potentially stem from you not feeling there’s a place for you internally to have conversations and influence people effectively about the Community. I would say that this is a table you need to push yourself onto for sure. The areas where you might respond with “this hasn’t been discussed with me” you need to try and be confident enough to make people speak about them with you. The answers to the questions @richard_millington posted are essential for you to understand if you’re to make your community a success. Sometimes we need to be a bit pushy to get things done. I put myself into the role I’m now in by being a little bit pushy, and sticking my nose in to places it wouldn’t normally have been.
Good luck, I’m sure you can do it
I am working through these questions now with my Product Manger