Welcome back to our blog series on revitalizing your community. In our first post, we tackled how to optimize Jive for mobile. Today, we’ll discuss one of the most common questions that we hear from community managers: how to improve search.
What to do when search “doesn’t work”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard your employees complain that they can’t find anything in the community. This can be frustrating for the employees themselves - the community is supposed to make work easier, not more cumbersome! - and for the community managers who work hard to make their community useful and meaningful. But while it’s easy to blame the tool when search “doesn’t work,” it’s typically the processes that are getting in the way.
|While search challenges are rarely the tool’s “fault,” it definitely helps to know how to use the tool most effectively. Check out our recent document on how search works for a deep dive into Jive’s search functionality.|
When we discussed these six strategies for revitalizing your community in our recent webinar, we asked attendees how often they review their community for outdated content and places. The answers were split pretty evenly between folks who review it often, sporadically, and not at all.
Why does it matter? Because keeping your content and places current is the most important thing you can do to improve search results. Content adds up over time; more “stuff” is created by virtue of use and activity or the evolution of your brand or products or organization or whatever. But wrangling that content can’t be crowd-sourced. Your internal community needs to be a trusted source of corporate information and that doesn’t happen on its own.
So how does it happen?
- Define responsibilities. Content curation should be the responsibility of the content owners and subject matter experts. The job of the community manager is to make sure that content owners are reviewing and updating their content consistently. Once your processes are in place, make sure that SMEs know the rules and understand that keeping content current is their responsibility.
- Set your rules. Before you can start freshening up your community, you need to decide how you define “fresh”. When is a piece of content or a place dead? This will vary for different organizations. Some customers call it a year without activity; for others, it’s three months. I think six months is a good average and a safe rule of thumb.
- Conduct a content inventory. Once you’ve decided on a cut-off date, it’s time to recruit content and place owners to go through all of their places and content to discover what’s still relevant. While a content inventory can be onerous if it's never been done - or not done for awhile - using Jive’s features can help. Within your places, for instance, you can filter by the oldest activity and quickly see when the last activity occurred.
- Start with places. If you haven’t done this in a while, you may find pages and pages of groups that haven’t been touched in some time. It can be helpful to start with the ones that are pretty obviously dead. If they haven’t been used in years and/or the owner is no longer with the company, it’s probably safe to delete them (although if you can track down the owner, asking before deleting is always a good idea.) For places with low activity, work with the owner to decide on next steps. Does the owner need help revitalizing it, can it be retired, is it still relevant? Ask your community owners to actually look at their content within the places before deciding, then determine if it should be updated, archived, marked outdated, or deleted.
- Inspect your content. Once you’ve decided what places to keep, it’s time to move on to the content within the places. This is a task for the owner or SMEs . As community manager, you probably don’t know what should stay and what can go. Unfortunately, getting owners/SMEs to go through their content can be tough. This puts you in a hard position: you want to clean up the community content in order to improve search results, but you can’t clean it up without the SME’s assistance. A solution: archiving. If there is content that you can’t delete but you suspect is nolonger active or relevant, move it to an unlisted or secret group that you create as a holding zone. In this way, the content is still accessible if anyone needs it but it won’t continue to gum up your search results.
- Motivate your owners. While the archive hack helps, it’s still important to get community owners and SMEs to go through their content. You can try to motivate them by explaining how a clean community is a happy, active community and how it will benefit their colleagues and team members. You can also draw a hard line and threaten to delete their content if they don’t claim it by a certain date. This tends to work better, but make sure that you have support from a leader to get employees to comply or be okay with the consequences.
- Implement a content naming and tagging strategy. Congrats! You’ve cleaned up your community. Now it’s important to keep it that way. One of the best ways to organize and optimize places and content is through consistent naming and tagging. For example, say you have offices in 20 countries, which means that you probably have 20 HR spaces and 20 holiday schedules posted in your community. If they're all named "holiday schedule 2019", users will find 20 versions in their search results - not just the one for their country. That's not very helpful. A content-naming and tagging strategy should be consistent and include things like country, language, department, even a date or a sub-department - things that help people who are searching to really find the content that they want. Tag content with keywords that are not found in the title or content area. You can also bulk tag content by going to the bulk content management area at the bottom left of the content tab to make this process go more quickly.
- Mark content appropriately. Marking content “Official” moves it higher in the search results than other versions with a similar name or topic. By the same token, marking something “Outdated” moves content lower in the search results. This is a great option for content that isn’t the most up-to-date but still needs to remain accessible. This can also be done using the bulk content management function.
- Promote search results. Now that you’ve got a shiny, spruced up community, you can use some more advanced search features to further optimize users’ search. Promoted search results, for instance, work like a google ad. The community manager can designate specific content that will be pinned to the top of the search results when a user types in a particular set of keywords. This can be a good strategy for things like policies or other documents that you want to make sure people find when they’re searching.
Here’s the best part: once you implement the steps above the first time, the next time it won't be so bad - as long as you go through this process consistently. The key to a well-oiled search machine is current, organized content. So clean it up and then keep it up, and hopefully those “I can’t find anything!” remarks will be history.
For more ways to revitalize your community, check out the other posts in this six-part series:
- Optimizing for mobile
- Improving search
- Recruiting advocates - coming soon
- Engaging leaders- coming soon
- Personalizing your communities - coming soon
- Sharing your successes- coming soon