The primary role of an Internal Community Manager is to establish and maintain an environment where employees participate fully, becoming actively engaged in contributing and reaping the benefits of collaborating within the online community. To accomplish this task, it is necessary to not only encourage employee interaction but also eliminate roadblocks preventing participation. The first step in this process is to determine why an employee is not using social media. This can be done by sending out a simple survey or individual discussions. Once you are able to assess the why, you can help alleviate the root cause of employees' hesitation.

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I joined Jive in July as the new Internal Community Manager, and absolutely love it. Prior to my role at Jive, I worked at Integra Telecom, where one of my areas of responsibility involved training employees to use social media. I worked with a variety of departments: sales, support, human resources, and executives. In training these individuals, I discovered that reluctance in using social media boiled down to these six underlying factors.

 

The following details these six obstacles and strategies for overcoming them:

 

  1. "I don't know what to post." There are several ways to handle this attitude. First, you must lead by example. The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” is not an effective tactic for facilitating adoption of an enterprise social network. Leading by example is critical.  This means you must be both diligent and consistent in your use of the social intranet. Posting the type of content and in the style (long or short, grammatically correct, etc.) that you want others to emulate is essential. Why? Because people will look at your posts for guidance. Second, provide samples of content you'd like employees to post.
  2. "I don't see the value." Provide success stories. Articulate the value through sharing success stories that demonstrate how the social intranet can be used effectively for business communication and collaboration. Make the examples relevant to the employee by providing examples specific to the type of department where the employee works. Additionally, you'll want to have a list of best practices to share and add value by making regular posts with tips on using the social intranet efficiently.
  3. "I don't like writing." No sweat. An image is worth a thousand words. Attending an industry event or conference? Recommend that the employee takes pictures and uploads the photos with a quick caption about the event. Also, encourage employees to share industry articles - they can annotate an article reference with a couple sentences detailing why the piece is important.
  4. "I don't have time." With every company, there are numerous mediums through which management and employees communicate. To encourage employees to add yet another medium, there must be distinct value.  To enable employees to find information in a new medium, corporate communications should send a company-wide email that includes a link to where the information can be found on the social intranet. Using traditional communication methods to inform employees of the new location is the first step to changing behavior. The key: make using the social intranet an integral part of employee workflow.
  5. "I don't feel comfortable sharing my opinions." Encourage employees to share articles or summaries of articles. The articles should be relevant to the community on the subject matter that they have expertise in. These posts will serve as a news source for other employees and build confidence. Be sure to respond to these employees in a positive manner. For instance, you could use "Likes" and comments, such as "Great find!" to encourage their efforts.
  6. "This is boring." Nothing overcomes boredom like competition and prizes. To garner an influx of employee participation, craft competitions for the title of “Top Influencer of the Month” or the “Top Contributor of the Quarter.” Then, reward the winners with prizes.  Prizes should be determined based on the effort of the task. The greater effort required, the bigger the reward.

 

To further encourage participation, provide incentives to employees. Recognize employees that regularly contribute to the community. You can use personal notes, public recognition, or display their photos on the homepage of the social intranet, with a caption such as, “This Week’s Top Influencer." Be creative and be thoughtful about how and when you acknowledge employee contributions.

 

Bottom line: As an Internal Community Manager, it is critical that you listen, understand, acknowledge, and readily address the concerns of your community members.

 

To the Internal Communities, what other strategies have you found effective for overcoming these obstacles?