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.

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

Ten ways to encourage user generated content on your social intranet

  1. Be clear in the goals of the platform from the outset
  2. Define and distribute clear, concise guidelines and reference material
  3. Make sure you use social functions such as share buttons, Like buttons and potentially ratings tools
  4. Use widgets and tools which enable users to share latest comments and view areas of the platform where conversations are taking place
  5. Mix up the content from heavier, serious content to more fun/people focused content
  6. Encourage line managers and leadership to comment and share strong articles published from their reports
  7. Rewards the best contributors publicly – this is different to rewarding the most prolific
  8. Praise and re-share the best articles, comments and discussions in a weekly/monthly roundup of activity
  9. As the manager of the platform create a network in different business units/location through which you can guide and encourage content creation
  10. 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

10 tips on how to drive adoption on your social intranet

  1. Identify the purpose of the platform against a business need. Drill down what the platform is actually for and structure your strategy accordingly
  2. 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
  3. Plan how you are are going to curate content – give feedback to authors early on their posts and make sure standards are clearly explained
  4. Write guidelines and as much support material as possible. Think of the lowest denominator when doing so
  5. Identify early adopters within the audience and start the dialogue early. Gather feedback from them and listen to what they say
  6. Identify Champions/Maverns and Rock stars, engage them and work with them to build a community around them
  7. But don’t forget the little guy. Ensure communications and adoption techniques are reaching everyone
  8. Reward and incentivise  emerging users and promote great content from users
  9. Make sure the content is delivered through words, visuals, video and podcast – everyone is different and everyone chooses to process information in different ways
  10. Use ‘nudge’ techniques encourage leaders to comment on articles and engage in what is being shared.

Related article

How to build a social intranet

Happiness and the paperless office

I read this article today on the advancement of the paperless office which got me thinking about the way we work in offices and how tablets and clouds will ultimately free us from desks and enable us to work in a way which is more natural to the individual. I then contributed to this post from Nixon McInnes which got me thinking around the subject of happiness at work.

It struck me the increased mobility of work could create a better understanding of what makes workers happier, er, at work. Management, Internal Communicators, Organisation Designers and Interior Designers can gleam a wealth of data from users of mobile tools which could directly change the performance of the organisation for the better.

My theory is based on a model used by a LSE venture called Mappiness where users of the app receive up to 5 alerts a day asking them about their happiness levels at that point in time. The alerts also ask for data about who the user is with, what activity the user in engaging in and so forth. After a while the app builds up a profile of the user’s happiness levels based on location, activity and company. This is then shared between the LSE and the user, enabling the LSE to build a macro understanding of the happiness levels in the country, whilst the user gets to understand their behaviour through the data.

If this model was transplanted into an enterprise version and added onto the tablets/devices of the newly mobile workforce then the organisation would be able to analyse the data and find out crucial information such as; what time of the day their workforce are more likely to be proactive and productive and base a workflow around that. Employee responsiveness could be measured enabling the best timing for the delivery of communications.

As one would expect a mobile workforce to work in areas where they are most comfortable, the data will enable the organisation to find out what sort of environmental design works best for their workforce. The data could also be used to examine happiness of clusters against outcomes to find out which groups are working well together and which are not.

There is a huge opportunity in this space for a real data capture which can help organisations with achieving the right outcome in important decision making. Firstly, the tablets/devices must be adopted, along with a freeing up of individual workspaces. Individual happiness must also be taken more seriously in organisation. Once these hurdles have been overcome then the happy paperless office can be more than a pipe dream.

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of narrative

I have a friend, a very good friend, we share the same outlook on life, we
both work in the digital industry and we both share a passion for sport,
technology and generally interesting stuff. We get on well. To us, life is
one long conversation, we think nothing of sending an email with nothing
in the subject field and just a URL in the message field, we use iPhones to
send photos and SMSs of interesting things to each other without really
having a set dialogue and we use Skype to connect and share during the
day.

Nothing abnormal there you might think. Perhaps you are right but what
I find interesting is our ability to build a narrative around our everyday
lives through multiple platforms. What I find even more interesting is
how we can actually maintain two different conversations on two different
platforms simultaneously, even if the mood is darker on one platform and
jolly on the other platform.

The ability to build narrative is important nowadays especially for
communicators; audiences and messaging have become so fragmented that
there has to be a story behind the communication, the narrative builds a
sense of inclusion to the audience or in my friends and I’s case both of us.
Most importantly it connects us to the bigger picture – the story behind the
messages.

The story-behind-the-messages. This is ultimate goal for every
communicator, getting the audience to ‘get’ the bigger picture. Using
narrative is a great way to do this – if the narrative is right then every
message should resonate with the reader, if the narrative is wrong,
messages will be misinterpreted and potentially distrusted. Building
the brand narrative takes time and like a personal narrative, takes a lot
of commitment and understanding from both parties. There is no right
or wrong way to getting the right narrative in a corporate context, it’s a
question of building trust and rapport.

I mentioned earlier that my friend and I communicate constantly and
build up narrative through a variety of platforms; Skype, iPhones, etc.
This has enabled us to reach a point of understanding, trust and a sense
of ‘getting it’ as we are now free to communicate anywhere and everywhere.
This is my mind is fundamental to bringing the narrative to life and

bringing it into real-time relevancy. The key here for communicators
is to adopt as many methods as possible to build the storyline, amplify
events, allow senior teams to communicate how they feel most comfortable
and empower everyone with the tools to engage and watch how greater
understanding and more effective communications can take place simply
by having a strong narrative in place.

Further reading: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/using_stories_as_a_tool_of_per.html