I believe a fantastic online community feeds on an existing organization’s culture. Have you found that to be true? I would love to discuss the benefits of building community systems around the capstones of existing corporate culture. I see three actions for community managers to take:
The Treasure Hunt: Identify the existing culture, mission, and values.
Construct to Connect: Build something recognizable with which they can unite.
Nourish to Flourish: Make existing culture available and viable online. (It’s more than a water cooler)
And bonus side effect potential: What to do when the online community culture begins shaping the corporate culture itself. (Gasp)
I invite those who have unlocked the mysteries of nourishing communities to “vote up” this potential session, so I can ask you a bunch of questions.
I appreciate your feedback Jono, Many organizations are quick to comprehend building something online that mirrors their imaginings of what a community should be. I wonder if anyone has documented success by building a main-hub to connect to the existing platforms used for communication management/community within an organization. Think of a University with many departments, administrators, students, it can get messy to try to blend them into one area- they all have such unique needs. You don’t have to get buy-in from every area (head of marketing, engineering etc) if there’s only a community manager highlighting what they are doing well and pointing others that have an interest in the right direction.
Is breaking what works needed to connect an organization as a whole? I feel myself leaning towards a model where a community manager is used to invite, feature, and build relationships within a main hub, but then serve as an outreach support arm/consultant for the other established communities. The more I wonder the more it sounds like a challenge I would like to lead.
Maybe I missed my calling as an air traffic controller. That tower would have been amazing.
I think you are right, but it really depends on the kind of community they want to build.
I believe that community managers typically focus on a few key areas:
Helping to align an organization with a set of community goals (processes, infrastructure, comms etc).
Building growth in areas of agreed community management strategy.
From my experience, most community management best practice does indeed focus on (2), but getting (1) in place ca be tricky depending on the organization. For example, it might be straight-forward to build a community in a startup that has a young perspective and plenty of capital, but for a large corporation it can be much more complex.
I think the challenges that lay here are typically people though, not tools. Usually deploying technology that an organization can use in conjunction with a community isn’t too complex. The challenge is building an understanding of what community can bring (which is brave and new) while also reassuring people that their patch of land isn’t going to get bulldozed with a bunch of random community members.
Sadly, while I think there are some repeatable practices here, much of this is heavily dependent on the organization.
I think the key is:
Be crisp in what community can bring.
Help people to understand what you want to focus on in terms of tactical projects.
Reassure people that you are additive to their departments, not subtractive.
Provide regular status updates.
More than anything, I think the key is to start small and demonstrate success as opposed to try to convince people of it.
I feel that in large corporations, (1) and (4) are the biggies. You need to show some type of payback for the community in order for the company to continue spending resources (your paycheck, server storage, image, and so on). It wants to see measurable payback and targets to be reached. We have numerical values down such as number of participants number of questions answered, and so on. Or do we? Are we tracking the right things? How do we mine sentiment? Companies like JetBlue do data mining and text analysis of customer data (emails, bog postings, and so on) to identify areas for further analysis and potential improvements. I wonder if this upcoming technology be applied to communities?
Keenly interested in this topic! This is exactly what we’re trying to solve at Autodesk, a company that has traditionally had siloed and even competing product teams. Now we’re trying to change that culture to be collaborative and cohesive.