- Be clear in the goals of the platform from the outset
- Define and distribute clear, concise guidelines and reference material
- Make sure you use social functions such as share buttons, Like buttons and potentially ratings tools
- Use widgets and tools which enable users to share latest comments and view areas of the platform where conversations are taking place
- Mix up the content from heavier, serious content to more fun/people focused content
- Encourage line managers and leadership to comment and share strong articles published from their reports
- Rewards the best contributors publicly – this is different to rewarding the most prolific
- Praise and re-share the best articles, comments and discussions in a weekly/monthly roundup of activity
- As the manager of the platform create a network in different business units/location through which you can guide and encourage content creation
- Create localized editorial committees at the launch and encourage and agree a number of posting per month. This will encourage conversations across different areas of the business on different topic
- Identify the purpose of the platform against a business need. Drill down what the platform is actually for and structure your strategy accordingly
- Plan content on the basis of the business need/goal. Plan relevant content and link it to what is going on in the business at that time. This gives users ideal discussion topics
- Plan how you are are going to curate content – give feedback to authors early on their posts and make sure standards are clearly explained
- Write guidelines and as much support material as possible. Think of the lowest denominator when doing so
- Identify early adopters within the audience and start the dialogue early. Gather feedback from them and listen to what they say
- Identify Champions/Maverns and Rock stars, engage them and work with them to build a community around them
- But don’t forget the little guy. Ensure communications and adoption techniques are reaching everyone
- Reward and incentivise emerging users and promote great content from users
- Make sure the content is delivered through words, visuals, video and podcast – everyone is different and everyone chooses to process information in different ways
- Use ‘nudge’ techniques encourage leaders to comment on articles and engage in what is being shared.
- Every decision has to aim to improve two things 1) Connectivity between users 2) Quality and relevancy of content
- Don’t plan on your own – use focus groups and online research tools to find out what the USERS want and HOW they want it
- Don’t plan as an Editor – plan as a facilitator
- Employ an external consultant to add to the development/steering team. You need an objective sounding board and someone who does not have an internal agenda to be involved from the start. Plus, there is always someone who knows more than you
- Identify influencers and key users early. These are not always the same as the users you spoke to in the focus groups
- Communicate frequently with the intended users…and invite feedback at every stage
- Create a plethora of guides and information on the What, Why’s and How’s of the tool – from everything from uploading content to all the relevant personnel behind the tool
- Get the leadership team involved in the online discussions early (if that’s key to your objective)
- Reward and offer incentives for early users
- Ensure search, taxonomies and measurement tools are relevant and well maintained.
As part of the communications strategy for the website I manage we decided that we simply must build a community on Facebook – from a branding perspective and a social commerce perspective (we have added a commerce plugin to our page) it looks like the ideal channel to build our community and engage with new audiences – easy.
The initial content which we uploaded was fundamentally a bit of broadcast about news products and ranges, mixed in with valuable content such as buying guides and how to guides. I wanted to get to the point where if we posted new material on our Facebook page our ‘Likes’ (ers) will engage in debate and comment to start creating earned media content for us. I essentially wanted our Likes (ers) to be writing our content and creating links for us.
How did we go about this? Simple, I offered an incentive start the ball rolling. A competition was launched in which the ‘Likers’ (I’m fed up of writing Liker (ers)) post anecdotes about days they wished they had a taken a Duvet day and stayed at home under the duvet. The winning post, chosen by us, would win a duvet – simple. I then promoted the competition using Facebook adverts and via Twitter.
I started to receive posts on ‘Likers’ about spilling coffee over colleagues and such, but I also received posts which I was a little uncomfortable with on our page, posts describing bodily functions etc. I was put in a conundrum; as an advocate of Social Media I wanted to keep the posts live – after all this is what our community want to share and to be honest they weren’t offensive. Or, as a Brand leader to I protect the brand and remove all of this content? I have kept my own counsel on this but have decided to keep the posts up. If I receive complaints or they offend anyone then I’ll review the situation. My rationale is that it would go against I believe is right about Social Media and the move towards open and transparent brand communications. I want to encourage openness and feedback from our customers and our community as well. If I start removing inoffensive content which isn’t ‘On-brand’ and approved I’ll lose any trust from community. I hope most communicators feels the same.
The would be the same if a ‘Liker’ or a customer posted negative content about our products or service. I’d hope that we’d be able to resolve the situation in public and move on, leaving both the user happy with the experience and a public trail of how good our brand is at dealing with complaints and issues.
It might be a good idea to bullet point my thoughts on user-generated content and how to handle the unexpected;
- Like a boy scout – be prepared
- Have Social Media guidelines ready for everyone
- Think be you act on any content – always take a look at all potentials avenues
- Engage with the User don’t just delete comment and not find out more about the users motives
- Amplify succesful interactions
Most importantly remember if customers fans are not posting negative content about you in your environment, they sure as hell will be in an environment you may not know about.