Getting it right first from the start – articles, documents and data

One of the biggest obstacles to the success of a social intranet launch and adoption of the channel is the inability for the end-user to upload content correctly. There is nothing worse or more time-consuming for an intranet manager than constantly being asked ‘how to’ especially when the solution is very simple. In truth this is through poor planning from the IM. Better communications around the launch can bridge the knowledge gap, but there are other ways to create clear understanding in the end-user;

Document important processes and instruction manuals and make these available to all. These document don’t have to be text heavy. The best instructions I’ve seen are visual and fun. Think Ikea instructions – but better. Ideally these documents would be sent to every end-use in the business, if cost is an issue downloads are fine.

Offer training throughout the launch period. Hands-on training beats and instruction manuals every day. Offer both online training for end-users and face to face sessions. I would suggest running a theme through these session rather than adopting the ‘drop-in’ approach and run the sessions with a story taking the end-user from point a to point b. Capture these sessions and add these to a help section on the intranet.

Use forums and a dedicated area on the platform to offer help. If you can catalogue questions,  discussions and training sessions online do so and make them as social as possible. You will find there are users in the business who are wiling to share their knowledge and help others.

Write an FAQ page and stick the link in as many pages as possible. In some cases this reduce non-essential questions by up to 20%.

If you put these channels in place you should have capable end-users who are equipped to use a social intranet efficiently.

If you have anymore to add just add them to the comments below…

 

Collaboration in Action

I’ve been really busy recently moving back from Paris, setting up for freelance contracts and setting up a house here again. Whilst I was sorting through my ‘stuff’ I came across a whitepaper I wrote a couple of years ago whilst I was at theblueballroom. It made for interesting reading so I thought I’d bring it out again and share it.

It looks at social media and collaboration platforms from an internal communicators perspective. A fair bit has changed since this was published but it’s still worth a read. The contents includes an introduction and evaluation of tools such as twitter, wikis, blogs and RSS as well as examining multi-functional collaboration platforms such as SharePoint, Jive, Socialtext and Huddle.

You can download the paper here;

Collaboration in Action

http://www.theblueballroom.com/download.php

If you have any comments on the work please do  add them to this page.

Social Workplace Conference

As conferences go, I’ve not seen a stronger line up of talent in this country than at the Social Workplace Conference. The speakers and panelists feature pretty cool thought leaders many of whom I’ve been following for a few years now. I’m really looking forward to hearing from the big guys IBM, Oracle, Headshift, SSP  and Verizon as well as from the independent experts like Benjamin Ellis, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with a couple of times and Mark Morrell, who I connected with over Twitter about 3 years ago, discussing either intranets or football – mainly Brighton and Hove Albion.

Coming from a communications background, there’s been a few conferences recently, which I’ve followed on Twitter and thought, this is the same conversation I’ve been hearing for 3-4 years now, when is it going to move on? I’m really hoping this conference will move us on to the next level of content delivery and define the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to of a social workplace, leaving everyone with a clearer understanding of the different elements of a social business, and how these are linked creating systems of collaboration, communications and workflows, which are social in the purest sense.

I’m particularly keen to hear the ‘how’ conversations; how to implement a social strategy into a business, how to drive social behaviour within a business, how to measure the success and how to prepare for the future trends. With sessions such as; Social Workplace: Making of a Socially Connected Enterprise from David Christopher, Social Media Business Leader, Oracle EMEA, Implementing a Social Workplace Strategy: Employees First from Elizabeth Lupfer, Senior Manager, Employee Experience, Verizon US and Social Business Design: Focus on People Powered Processes from Jon Mell, Social Collaboration Leader, IBM North Europe I’m pretty sure the ‘how’ will be well covered. We should then be able to return to the next conference with stories of success and a clearer vision of the future of social business.

Judging from the speakers and panelist that have agreed to take part and the conference agenda, I believe this event could be a defining point in the story of social business in the UK.

I think there are still some spaces left, here’s a link to the registration page – it would be good to see you there.

Internal Communicators and the Social Media issue.

I was following the hashtags from two conferences in London yesterday, one focused on Intranets and one focused on Internal Communications (IC) with a session on Social Media (SM). The intranet focused conference featured more technical conversations on topic such as UX, algorithms and search within an organisation, but most importantly featured discussion on clarity of objectives, whilst the IC conference looked at softer subject such as adoption and ‘how to get employees using social media’.

What was apparent from the feeds is that Internal Communicators could really do with actually working closer/listening to the Intranet folks to get a better understanding of what they are dealing with and to better define their goals. To my mind, very few practitioners actually understanding why they are actually talking about social media, they know they should be talking about it, but they are not sure why.

I think the crux of the problem is that organisations are embedding social technologies across the entire business, using it for different purposes. A few years ago SM was seen a communications tool alone, which is why PR as an industry adopted it so readily, naturally where PR leads IC follows.

The problem is that at the time Internal Communicators picked up the SM baton when talk was about SM as a collaboration tool was a really hot topic (still is), which is where the confusion lies. Internal Communicators don’t actually know, what they should be focusing on, should they be focusing on more efficient ways of messaging and sharing messages, enabling fluid social channels for feedback, or should they also be focused on enabling collaboration tools (my thinking is that they are stakeholders in this area, not owners). Now social customer service is upon us, does the IC team feel the need get involved in that because it’s Social?

How this can be address;

Stop using Social Media as one umbrella concept – define what the Internal need is and set the appropriate objective.

From the defining the objective, focus on what you are the about is clearer feedback channels through the organisation, is it an awareness campaign for the news strategy, If it’s collaboration or community building, set up a working group, don’t for second think this is just an IC issue,whatever is let’s not call it a SM campaign

I’m pretty sure if Communicators took as step back to define what they really need from social media, then we would move past the stage which Internal Communications seems to be stuck at right now.

If you would like me to help you define your social objectives please get in touch @kev_mcdougall or viahttp://fr.linkedin.com/in/kevinmcdougall

Let’s Meetup inside

I love Meetup.com. I first discovered it when I moved to Paris and was looking to integrate myself into several sporting and social scenes. I found it intuitive and search-friendly and extremely social. Within weeks I was going to Yoga classes, booked into group French lessons and found a running club – all through one site. I’ve even started my own meetup group for footballers of various abilities to meet up on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve called it ‘Have a kickabout’. Without Meetup.com finding these groups in a city like Paris would have been much, much harder.

This got me thinking about the role something like Meetup could have within an organistion. Essentially Meetup builds communities and introduces new people to new groups i.e building connections. Isn’t this the holy grail of what organisations are looking for?

The communities are self-building, enabling official groups to be formed whilst also enabling unofficial groups to form. The official groups would be based around work functions and would be more formal. The most interesting group is the unofficial group formation. This, I imagine, is where the real collaboration and innovation would take place. For example, take a hi-tech company where large numbers of staff work on different projects. An unofficial Meetup-style group is started by some enterprising individual to engage the community in topics such as technology/software/process. If the company did not have an arena to discuss these topics, you could potentially have a group meeting up and innovating within the company through shared interests. Again isn’t that an organisational architect’s dream? The flip side is they could all go and set up a start-up. But for the purpose of my point we’ll focus on the positives.

Rolling out a Meetup style function means finding groups employees  are interested in within the organisation is easy, but more importantly, employees would then be able to find who they really need to talk to about something and also HOW to talk to that person.

Handing over a platform like this to an internal audience can only have up sides, especially if making your organisation as social as possible, through different functions and processes, is a strategic goal.

Tagging content within an organisation

My last post looked at the importance of search as the main function of an organisational intranet. Search capabilities on any platform rely on the correct tagging and categorisation of the data added onto the platform. So how does an organisation ensure the correct tagging and categorisation of content? Whilst there will always be an element of human error, there are simple ways to minimise the risk of erroneous content tagging.

The easiest way is to predefine and predict what content is going to be uploaded and offer predetermined tags and meta data for content editors to use. This is by far the simplest way, but it is pretty basic in terms of the variety and the creation of new tags and new categories.

There are more refined options available. Firstly the emergence of intelligent platforms, which suggest tags and relevant categories based on the core content within the data. This is a great way of correctly tagging content based on actual content. The issue here is that the suggested tags have to be predefined otherwise there could be an infinite amount of tags and categories.
The third option, which develops on the previous two points is to ‘crowdsource’ the correct tags and let the users decide how the content should be tagged and categorised. Again I’d offer recommended master tags but then it would be over to the audience to choose the most relevant tags. This works as the audience actually engages in the content as they have an interest in the task they are doing. This also keeps the tags current and relevant to the audience.

The importance of tagging is essential to the success of any contemporary intranet. These are a few of the methods used in encouraging correct content tagging and categorisation. There are more sophisticated methods of data categorisation in which platforms use both intelligent suggestions based on the data and crowdsourcing but the above methods are the fundamental methods used across all platforms.