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This is the first in a series of three blog posts where I discuss the role of community strategy, operations and tactics - and share lessons we've learned at The Community Roundtable working with hundreds of members and clients.

 

StrategyOpsTactics.jpgA community can succeed with a great strategy even if the community management tactics are poor.

 

A community will fail if the strategy is poor – even if the tactics are great.

 

Poor engagement is largely seen as a tactical problem – not enough members, the wrong type of members, not enough content, poor technology and more. This happens because community management tactics are the most obvious influence on engagement – and the one people see. While tactics do indeed matter, community strategy has a far bigger influence on engagement and overall success.

 

Community strategy is what harnesses the motivations of the community and, if it does this well, there are few tactical barriers big enough to dissuade the community from engaging.

 

Organizations have a tough time getting this right. They tend to think mostly about what they need. Take for example, the executive who is fired up to launch a community for a new product she is championing – and interested in exploring a new approach to generate interest and support customers. At first blush, it sounds like a good opportunity for a community approach – the organization is not risking existing revenue streams with an experimental approach, a new product offers an exciting opportunity and digital communications channels are a great mechanism for sharing information and attracting interest.

 

The problem? No one cares.

 

Why? No one uses the product… yet.

 

You can almost hear the crickets even before the community is launched.

 

So is it futile? Absolutely not. However, the existing strategy is likely to fail because it’s oriented around making the organization successful, instead of making its potential customer successful. There is no shared value. That means there is no reason for the customer to invest in it – and no motivation to engage.

 

What if instead, the community strategy focused on the problem solved by the new product? It’s a subtle but critical shift in orientation. It’s an approach that not only interests potential customers but it will also interest potential partners, analysts and media – making the community a place that hosts all sorts of discussions about the problem set, including conversations about how the new product addresses the problem. If it’s an important problem, potential customers are motivated to participate. The strategy defines a shared value – solving a problem – that both the organization and potential customers have a vested interest in solving.

 

The lack of a compelling community strategy is often the reason communities fail – the online environment and enterprise social networks are littered with dead spaces that failed to thrive because people confused having a place to meet with having a good reason to meet.

 

So, how can you build a community strategy that works?

 

Understand your target members.

  1. Understand the community environment and what competes for members’ time and attention.
  2. Define the shared purpose, shared value and business model that will support your strategy.
  3. Build a community roadmap that articulates how you will approach your community building.
  4. Recruit a member advisory board to get feedback.
  5. Review your community strategy, business model, roadmap and programming calendar with the advisory board and revise as needed until they are excited.

 

You may be able to skip some of these steps if you feel like you have sufficient insight into your key potential members and the environment in which the community will exist. However, getting feedback and ensuring there is excitement is a critical - and often missed – step.

 

Ensuring excitement is, in fact, a litmus test for a good community strategy. If you cannot find five potential members who are legitimately excited or intrigued about the prospect of the community, you need to revisit the community strategy and roadmap. No one wants to come to a party that lacks energy – the same is true for communities. This may create an inconvenient truth for executives or delay your community launch but getting it right will pay long-term dividends.

 

If the community’s shared purpose and value are compelling and the business model is structured to generate more value for members than they contribute, they will come back to engage again and again – and everyone will get more value out of the community than they invest into it.

I was excited for the opportunity to interview Alban Rampon, Enterprise Community Manager for the ARM Connected Community, as he is someone who is quite active in the Jive Community. Alban's WorkType profiles of Connector and Energizer made our interaction super smooth and extremely positive! Alban, I think your WorkTypes are right on! Thanks so much for being active in the Jive Community and for sharing a bit about yourself.

 

Leigh: Where do you work?

Alban: Hello Leigh, I work for ARM in Cambridge, UK. Not many people know us, but almost everyone is using our technology! Like a songwriter, we are commissioned to create the blueprints for chips. Then, for each song sold, we get royalties. For us to succeed, our partners have to succeed as the initial license fee is not enough to cover the R&D costs. Our community includes companies from every part of the ecosystem: semiconductor, operating system, mobile apps, etc. The chips are used in everything from vacuum cleaners, hard drives, mobile phones, tablets, cars and even in space. ARM Connected Community Partners List gives all companies who wish to publicly acknowledge enabling/using ARM technology.

 

Leigh: How would you describe your current job?
Alban: I am building relationships, connecting people and companies. I am the global community manager and community strategist and I'm delighted to have been invited to be a Jive Champion too.

Leigh: Hooray! Thanks for being a part of our Jive Champion program, Alban!

 

Leigh: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what was your WorkType?

Alban: Of course, I tried it as soon as the program was announced! My primary type is Connector and secondary is Energizer. I feel they are good matches. I tried the test a few times and I always get those two, even if the order sometimes differs.

 

Leigh: What was your favorite part of attending JiveWorld14?
Alban: Meeting the people I have been working with all year. I find the event exceptionally well organized. If you are working with online communities, I believe you should attend the event even if you're not yet a customer.
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Leigh: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?
Alban: We have an external support, partner, thought leadership and private collaboration community. We want to make the most of the platform!

 

Leigh: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?
Alban: I use a PC with Windows and Linux. I've wanted to try a Mac to brand a mobile app for our community with analytics and URL pre-configured... I just haven't found the time yet.

Leigh: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?
Alban: I'm always on mobile and use an iPhone, an iPad and an Android smartphone . A community never closes.

Leigh: You got that right!

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Leigh: Pick one word that best describes how you work.
Alban: I work on interruptions... except when I have my headphones on which means "please wait, your call is important to me..."
Leigh: So true! I think a lot of people work on interruptions, but you're one of the first to own it! Also, I like your strategy for limiting them.

 

Leigh: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?
Alban: I love Wunderlist. They have been doing many integrations with other tools as well which is quite nice. I use it both at the office and at home, on all platforms... Give it a try, it's free.

Leigh: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?
Alban: I used to think it was clinical, until I looked at a picture of it . I tend to have what I need to do or need to think about on my desk. Also, I use a white board with notes to prioritize what I have to do. That's the best way I found to make sure I remember everyone/everything. I am so organized at the office that I don't like scheduling anything in my holidays.

AlbanRampon_ARMGlobalCommunityManager.jpeg

 

Leigh: What do you listen to while you work?
Alban: I work in a noisy office with many people on the phone. When I need to focus, I put on my headphones with electronic music. I recommend deadmau5 and Daft Punk to guarantee isolation from ambient distraction!

Leigh: Totally agree that ambient distraction helps ensure isolation.

 

Leigh: Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Alban: I am definitely an extrovert. However, I do enjoy thinking time alone very much too. If you ask, everyone will definitely say an extrovert though.

Leigh: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?
Alban: "Document on your community..." Most likely from The John Schwiller. Let me explain why! Everything you do in your emails is NOT scalable and needs to be repeated each time you have a new team member. Document once in your community and everyone will be able to help you. It's been useful so many times and it makes it so easy to on-board community members.

It was great getting to know you, Alban. Thanks so much for sharing tips that help you work most effectively. Does anyone have any questions for Alban?

In Part IV of the Six-Part Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I discuss the importance of having a clear vision of what success means and how to measure it.

 

In order for your social business launch to be successful, you need to have a clear picture of what success means. In the beginning stages success can be measured by participation. As your community matures look for other ways to measure success - the number of topics covered, reductions in the numbers of meetings, reductions in email usage.

 

The Importance of “Small Victories”

 

Small victories

Early in the game it’s important to have a number of “small wins” to build enthusiasm and help your team see the value of the program. These early success stories are essential for helping senior leadership see the value of social initiatives.

 

Social growth is an important key performance indicator for social intranets. Are your initiatives helping people move from passive consumption to participation? Are you encouraging participants to become contributors and social intranet evangelists?

 

It’s important to make it clear to employees what success means. Most people are hesitant to dive into online conversations, especially in the workplace where they are concerned about saying the wrong thing. Give them “low hanging fruit” so that they can engage in a safe, fun way.

 

Ranking and Liking - Easy Ways to Get Involved

 

In one organization readers were invited to “get their toes wet” by simply ranking online content. People who participated by clicking stars were thanked for the contribution. In a short period of time participants began to feel comfortable enough to initiate conversations around the articles they ranked.

 

Scheduling “just for fun” topics is a good way to provide a low barrier for entry and helping employees get over their hesitations about contributing. “Tell us about your best customer experience,” or “who is your workplace mentor?” are easy ways to help employees move from readers to participants to contributors.

 

It’s OK to Feel a Little Weird

 

Meaningful online conversations

In the roll-out phase interactions may sometimes feel forced, awkward or inconsequential. There needs to be an attitude of exploration and permission to try new things. The product sponsor and implementation leaders should touch base regularly with key participants to discover what is working and where improvements can be made.

 

Social business is dynamic. It grows and changes as participants find new ways to create value with the system. Your vision for success needs to be flexible and will change over time.

 

 

Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide you in building and implementing your strategy.

In Part III of the Six-Part Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I discuss the importance of shifting the focus away from features and onto meaningful human interactions that drive adoption.

 

drive conversation

The goal of any social business strategy is, of course, business. You want to drive productivity by improving employee engagement. You want to convert tacit knowledge - the “know-how” that’s tucked away inside your star performers’ heads - into explicit knowledge that can be shared between workgroups. Finally, you want to reduce time spent in meetings or combing through email inboxes.

 

The secret to getting business up and running on social software is to make the environment “people-friendly.” Like a good dinner party where people come for the prime rib and stay for the conversation, people will be drawn to your social intranet by the kinds of interactions they can have with other people in the organization. Feature bells and whistles don’t draw people - people draw people. Your social programs and campaigns - and not the software - will be your best path to rapid adoption and growth.


“Bells and Whistles” Are Nice But It’s People Who Attract People

 

Don’t rely on platform features to drive conversation. As with the dinner party mentioned above, it takes a good host to get conversation rolling. Once people are part of the conversation they will start to discover the system features that make the experience more dynamic and effective.

 

Tap your early adopters from your initial launch or test projects for the roles of Community Manager or Intranet Evangelist. Keep an eye out for Subject Matter Experts who can drive specific conversations on areas of interest across the company. Encourage your hosts/evangelists/experts to reach out to the people on their own teams to join the conversation.

 

Quantify Interactions

 

quantify interactions

Be sure to take the time to study the kinds of interactions taking place on your social intranet, especially in the early stages. Who are the conversation leaders? How many people start new topics compared to the number of people participating in existing topics? Senior leadership is most interesting in this type of information and reinforces their buy-in. Reporting also provides important insights for fine tuning your strategy and informs your next moves.

 

As you move toward the next stages of your social business initiative meet with your conversation leaders and brainstorm ways that you can steer the conversation toward specific business concerns. This way your roll-out will be more natural and more likely to address the real business needs of employees.

 

 

Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide you in building and implementing your strategy.

In Part II of the Six-Part Blog Series on Social Business Strategy, I discuss the need for starting small when attempting to get massive participation across your organization in your internal community.

 

Success with social business depends on getting widespread participation throughout your organization. There’s a paradox here - go for a big rollout and you could wind up with lackluster participation. Employees see that topics are sparse and conversations taper off before anything of value is delivered. Before you know it your social platform is a ghost town.

 

Starting small on the other hand gives you the option of delivering quality from the beginning. It’s much easier to draw people into conversations that are relevant and offer value. When you launch your social business on a small scale you have a better chance for managing the results.


Approach 1: Go Deep to Get Quality Conversations

 

conversation evangelists

One strategy for driving social adoption is to start small with a few conversations among people who are already engaged and eager to build your social intranet. This team will become your “conversation evangelists” as you roll out the platform to a wider audience.

 

Starting small lets your team establish “social norms” and conversation etiquette from the start. The good news here is that with robust moderation and proper guidelines conversational communities typically do an excellent job of self-policing. Your pilot team will be carving the first grooves that will direct the stream of conversation later on.

 

If there are compliance or liability issues in your company you can start working out best practices with your pilot team. Decide early on how to moderate topics while at the same time keeping conversation open and transparent.

 

Make sure that when you launch your social business strategy includes growth and maintenance phases. While a conversational community can be self-organizing it isn’t necessarily self-maintaining. Having a “conversational architect” involved in the later stages can help ensure that social interactions remain fresh, lively and focused on business goals at every stage.

 

Approach 2: Go Shallow for Widespread Engagement

 

shallow engagementAnother way to go small is to make your first company-wide conversations simple, light-hearted and fun. Don’t try to offer any deep knowledge management or inter-departmental collaboration at this point. Challenge employees to compete against senior leadership in a fitness challenge, a blood drive or contributions to a local charity.

 

Getting a lot of employees to contribute in a small way is a great way to generate enthusiasm. Keep an eye open for employees who naturally get involved and bring others into the conversation. These may be good recruits for “social business evangelists” with your next initiatives.

 

The key to success in social business is to have successful, engaging conversations early in the launch. Demonstrate value and get buy-in from employees. Then build on your success to move your strategy forward.

 

 

Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide in building and implementing your strategy.

Everyday I experience first-hand the passion our customers feel about Jive. Today's example of such passion: the UnJiveWorld 2015 Conference. 

 

Due to a change in scheduling our yearly conference JiveWorld, we ended up having to skip the calendar year 2015. The response was incredible. Not only were customers missing JiveWorld as a part of their Autumn community activities, they went so far as to purpose creating their own JiveWorld to fill the gap! And thus, the idea for UnJiveWorld 2015 was born.

 

What is UnJiveWorld?

 

According to mack_torres, Bay Area User Group leader, "In an attempt to build on the momentum from last year's JiveWorld, the Bay Area User Group steering committee (specifically John Summers) came up with the idea to have an UnJiveWorld all day event sometime during the 2015 calendar year."

 

Using the Jive Community as a base for collaboration, Mahal and the rest of the Bay Area User Group collaborated on how they thought this could all come together.

 

"My thought was that UnJiveWorld could include mini-presentations by members of the users group, based on use cases rather than technology, so we can share how we are using the platform to meet use case business goals," stated kmcmahon. "For example, in my case, I'm an external support community and my main use case right now is an obvious one: call deflection. So I could do a mini presentation on how I'm using Jive to that end and what challenges I've faced, etc. And we could do a bunch of use cases for both internal and external."

 

The final proposal consisted of bringing together customers and partners who could speak on different topics of interest to the community. As a result, the UnJiveWorld 2015 place was created where members from across the community can contribute ideas they would like to see covered in the unconference agenda. Members then vote on these ideas in order to generate the final agenda.

 

Submit your idea for UnJiveWorld! Simply follow this template and submit an idea here.

 

Even though UnJiveWorld is the brainchild of the Bay Area user group, anyone who is interested can attend. For information on how to sign up, check out Save the date: Bay Area UnJiveWorld Conference October 15, 2015 in Santa Clara, CA or click on the Register to Attend link below.

 

Register to Attend

 

Date

Thursday, October 15, 2015

 

Time

8:00 am - 5:00 pm : Unconference

6:00 pm : After party (location TBD)

 

Unconference location

Hitachi Data Systems

2825 Lafayette St

Executive Briefing Center Lobby - MAP

Santa Clara, CA 95050

Customer host: Michelle Groff Burling

 

Some top session ideas include:

Gamification Session with Bunchball

Analytics: Telling the story of Engagement thru Metrics and KPIs

Challenges Facing Regulated Industries

 

A special shout-out goes to the Bay Area User Group planning team including: Mahal Torres, Kim Nelson, John Summers, Madalina Papacica, and Kathleen McMahon. At this time, several partners are sponsoring this event as well, including JCS Consulting and Bunchball.

 

Learn more today!

I greatly enjoyed collaborating with Clarissa Viana, Community Manager from Plusoft, in order to share her workstyle with others. Clarissa jumped out at me because she's on the top 10 leader board in the External Communities group. That's a hard thing to do! Also, being from Brazil, I was curious if there were any tactics, technology, etc., that those in different areas around the globe aren't aware of yet. Get to know Clarissa!

 

Leigh: Where do you work?

Clarissa: I'm Head of Community Managers (hopefully, it'll make sense) at iCustomer, a company of the Plusoft Group, located in São Paulo, SP, Brazil. Here we help other companies implement their own communities, but since this is pretty new here in Brazil, we have a lot going on here.


Leigh: How would you describe your current job?

Clarissa: I help my boss with the strategic planning, I'm responsible for the health of the communities we implement (doing engagement, monitoring activity and creating reports) including our own internal community and I manage the work of the CMs below me (there's currently only one, but as we get other projects my team will grow).

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That's me and my boss, Thiago Velloso


Leigh: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what is your primary and secondary WorkType?

Clarissa: Yes, I am an Explorer and a Energizer.

 

Leigh: How do you think your WorkType plays into how you get work done in Jive?

Clarissa: My workstype plays well into my role as a community manager that needs to connect with everyone all the time and also help drive strategy. Seeing the big picture and having good ideas are awesome to help getting things started on the right foot.

DSC00788.JPG

This picture I took before we started one of our strategical workshops


Leigh: So how do you leverage Jive technology to help companies work better together?

Clarissa: It helps people get things done in a easier and faster way. I see some of my friend's that don't 'Jive' and they have tons of emails, several meetings to attend and it gets in the way of actually doing your job. What I like most is the fact that you work closer with your entire team even though you're cities apart.


Leigh: What's your favorite part about implementing Jive communities for your clients?

Clarissa: I like showing them how their lives will be easier with a community, and I really love seeing the results. I also like sharing best practices, seeing people connecting with each other...


Leigh: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?

Clarissa: PC


Leigh: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?

Clarissa: I have an iPhone, and it helps me answer things, and read discussions and documents when I'm on may way to work.


Leigh: Do you have a favorite editing tool?

Clarissa: I looove Jive for Office! I keep asking people that want to send me an email to post it on our Jive Community, specially through Jive for Office. You can do basically everything in the document without the need of logging in. It's perfect for someone that handles a lot of content on a daily basis.


Leigh: Pick one word that best describes how you work.

Clarissa: Engagement


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The gang from work. I made some great friends here!


Leigh: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Clarissa: I really like Spotify because of the variety of lists they have, and when I was able to run (I'm recovering from some ankle injuries), I was addicted to Nike Running. But I also really need my Reminders app (from the iPhone), the Google Agenda tool, my Moleskine Planner and some post-its - you can't only trust your memory to get things done


Leigh: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?

Clarissa: I was going to say a digital watch with a timer feature, but then I realized my favorite non-computer gadget is actually my Moleskine 18-months planner. It's one of those special themed editions, with the whole Peanuts Gang, and it helps me get all my weeks organized.

 

Leigh: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?

Clarissa: With reminders on my iPhone app, my planner (for personal appointments), and for professional tasks/ appointments, post-its, notes and lists on my notebook and sometimes, my memory.


Leigh: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?

Clarissa: My work space is kind of messy, because I always have tons of things in my mind - but if you ask me for something, I'll know the place of all my things. And I like to add some touches of fun to it - because life is already too serious.
Mesa 01.jpg

I'm kind of addicted to energetic drinks... but I also love tea!


Leigh: What do you listen to while you work?

Clarissa: It depends on my mood, but mostly to EDM (electronic dance music) and Foo Fighters (huge fan of these guys)!

Leigh: I've been obsessed with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters for quite some time, too! So I'm right there with you, Clarissa.

Clarissa: I'm very proud to say that I've been to 2 of the 3 concerts Foo Fighters played in Sao Paulo (or Brazil), including their first solo concert that happened January 2015.


Leigh: What's your best time-saving trick?

Clarissa: Getting your priorities done before you open your email or your Jive inbox, otherwise, you'll be carried away with new tasks and problems.


Leigh: How do you balance work and life?

Clarissa: I try to set a time for leaving work - and try not to take it home with me. Besides, if I have a personal appointment, I try my best not to miss it or be late for it.

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The gang from my desk and my colleague's.


Leigh: What's your sleep routine like?

Clarissa: Between 5-7 hours are enough to make me feel rested.


Leigh: Are you more of an introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

Clarissa: I believe ambivert, because even though I talk a lot, I don't open myself to everyone.

Leigh: You might enjoy this article then, 21 signs you might be an ambivert from Buzzfeed.


Leigh: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?

Clarissa: My mom always says "in the end, everything will be alright. If it's not alright, then, it's not over yet." And it is true, it helps me control my anxiety to get everything done right away.

Leigh: Love this!

 

Thanks so much, Clarissa, for sharing your workstyle with everyone. Keep up the great work!

 

Do you have questions for Clarissa? Extra points if you can identify all of the toys in the picture above!

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