Social Communities play important role in successful engagements with the employees, partners and customers. A successful social community could add lot of value to any enterprise. Enhancing brand loyalty, increase in sales, reduction in customer service costs, improving onboarding and learning process, better task and project management, crowdsourcing of ideas and content etc, social communities have many benefits which could directly add to the bottom line of any enterprise.

In spite of using best social technologies available, many enterprises are witnessing their communities becoming virtual ghost towns and the major reason for the failure is stakeholder’s disengagement.

How to address this issue? I have tried to present 10 steps which could help a great deal in ensuring community success. Here they are….

  1. Never build your strategy around technology alone- People are equally important if not more. They have their own idiosyncrasies. Some favor and some resist changes. But most of the time we see resistance when there is a major overhaul in the way we work. Law of Inertia. It’s universal. Think how people would take the new change. Could it be solved just by technology or would need more human efforts. More than a technology or platform, a Social Community is about people. There could be technology worth millions but its people who actually make or mar any initiative.
  2. It should have alignment with organization’s objective and should categorically have senior level buy-ins. The community manager and few of the social business enthusiasts cannot easily drive it to the desired success unless it has executive sponsorship. Involve the top bracket management.

  3. A good way to learn is to observe people doing it. While suggesting solutions to a call center, we do an exercise called ‘agent shadowing’, that’s actually watching an agent taking calls and resolving queries for hours without interfering. We get to learn a lot about his pain points which even he might not know. Try this to study about social communities.  Do ‘Community Shadowing’ and get insight on how communities on social networks like Linkedin, Facebook etc work. Test the waters before you take a plunge.

  4. Let communities be an integral part of the enterprises’ workflow. Community as a separate communication channel won’t survive. It should be a part of the day to day business processes of the enterprise. Can the social community reduce the TAT (Turn Around Time) of a business process? Improve First Call resolution Or improve the CuSat score? That’s the Litmus test. Social should be what people use to get their work done on a daily basis.
  5. It should not just be the marketing or the IT which should drive the community but a cross functional team comprising of IT, Marketing, HR, operations etc. The senior management should keep a tab on all important matters related to community management.

  6. Use methods like gamification for community adoption & engagement. Gamification is not just about leaderboards or badges. It’s the secret sauce to drive engagement loyalty. Game mechanics could help a great deal in motivating people share, engage and leverage on collaborative efforts.

  7. Build strong community advocacy program. Empower advocates to drive engagement through training, content sharing, answering queries etc.

  8. Measure. What can’t be measured could be easily missed. Social community too has defined metrics. Each community should be measured based on KPIs. Use analytics, dashboards and data visualizations to have insights about how the community is fairing, where it lacks and what needs to be done.

  9. Keep all community related matters well documented. Must have are strong community guidelines & playbook. Enforce Security, Safety and ethics through proper moderation but the objective should be to harness and not hinder engagement & creativity.

  10. Follow industry best practices and build an internal ‘Center of Excellence’ for social business and community related activities. Tune in to Social Business leader’s/ products community pages and blogs to learn more. Be always pumped up to take new initiatives and execute qualified ideas received through ideation.