One of the bugbears that plague community managers is adoption.
There’s really not much point if you’re the only one rattling around in it!
Here’s an example from my own Yammer network to help you encourage adoption in your online communities.
What To Do When Things (And People) Just Sit There
In Yammer, you’ll often see a group get created around a project or theme. We recently had a “Classifieds” group pop up, for example. Or it’ll be a department group: Finally, “Accounting” has their own space.
This group can be public or private. I’ve seen my fair share of new, private groups, because users creating their first groups often think their information needs to be proprietary when it really doesn’t.
Then after the group is created, the admin will add one or two people, post a sentence or upload a file, and just when you think it’s all going well…nothing.
Literally: Everything stops. No conversations, no new uploads, no activity…nothing!
Remember that you’re working with people, not data points
Now, part of my job is to help nurture people along and educate them on how to manage their own groups.
Part of THAT is to know when to let things tick along by themselves too. Nobody wants a rabid community manager pushing their own agenda at the expense of the people they’re serving.
So recognize that there will always be projects born in a blaze of excitement, only to slink off and quietly expire.
And that’s okay. Yammer is and probably will always be use-based: You use it when you need it.
So how do you know when to use a little alchemy?
Use what you know
Based on your company culture, the topic of the group, and any knowledge you have of the admin, group members, and group topic, you can…
Make an educated guess as to whether you should revisit this group in 3-6 months and shut it down if needed,
Determine whether the admin is still in email mode: Reaching out only to the people they’d typically email.
It isn’t immediately intuitive that people outside one’s circle or tribe are potential assets. That’s where I come in.
“Look at this Great Example of Public Project Group X from last year!” I might say, with enthusiastic clicking. “We had people we didn’t expect join in with their ideas. Because the group was open, it really helped the project be a bigger success than we’d anticipated.”
Well, everyone wants a bigger success than anticipated, right?
Even if you answered, “Wrong!” the point is that this type of approach can guide people to thinking of Yammer in ways we just typically can’t with email.
When you use Yammer for your project, and even more when you open up that project to all your colleagues, this is what happens:
- The reach is wider
- The results are better
- The visibility goes all the way up the leadership chain
- The legacy lasts.
Not to mention, any confusion over which version of which file is the latest goes away, because you can see and work on the latest version right there.
Tactics for the unconvinced
Of course, it helps to have a successful Public Project Group X to point to.
If you don’t have one, or if the admin is determined to keep her group private, fall back on stressing those potential assets of reach and legacy.
Encourage the admin to add a few people regardless of the group’s status, so at least she can get collaboration started. Suggest that she start out with a question or two. People love to give advice.
That will also make it easier to get that group made public later on when you re-emphasize how “you never know who knows something that can help you.”
And just as with Yammer itself…
This advice too is use-case based. Let me know if it works for you!