At Intranet Directions we’ve often written about the paths, choices and tactics which are under your (e.g. the intranet team’s) control and influence, and do not have barriers put in your way.
Those tactics which you have the mandate to action, are squarely within your power, and subsequently have a positive impact on the quality of your intranet or collaboration platform are like gold dust. They are (hopefully) not inhibited by your miniscule budget, an IT department that just loves to say no or a stakeholder with a depressing lack of vision.
One area where intranet managers tend to have more influence than they expect is over the networks of authors, content managers or community managers that contribute to the intranet or collaboration platform.
Training and engaging these individuals and communities, and encouraging good practices, helps maintain publishing standards, enforce rules and drive adoption of collaboration platforms. This is particularly important where authors and site managers are decentralised – and that’s most modern intranets in larger organisations.
Collectively any interventions the intranet team make with this community can have a positive influence on the user experience of your digital channels, just as much as the introduction of new technology. In fact managing an active community of authors or site managers which features a component of training should be considered a key part of your intranet governance framework.
Training and engaging author, site management or community manager networks helps across a number of areas. A few headline benefits include:
- Improving findability
- Maintaining publishing standards
- Ensuring relevant and up to date content
- Increasing adoption, particularly for social and collaboration platforms
- Improving processes
- Getting ready for changes on the platform such as content migration
- Getting input into changes on the platform to guide design
Beyond the benefits, here are some of the specific areas where training and encouragement can be targeted:
What you expect
Site and content managers like clarity so let them know what their commitment to the role should be.
Processes and platform
How things are done, not only so they follow the rules but they use the tools in an optimum way .
What they need to do to support their users
Site managers may need to support their users and even may need to train them themselves.
Ensuring that content is regularly reviewed and up to date.
Staying within brand guidelines for both site or page design as well as the tone of content.
Some of the fundamentals of usability and perhaps user centred design. An appreciation of this can help to keep good UX in mind.
Community management fundamentals
How to support and engage members of a community. This is key for enterprise social networks.
Writing for the web
A standard for authors and content managers.
Anything to do with tagging of content and building a user-centred structure for a site.
Future plans, updates, changes to process and platform releases. Site managers are kept in the loop, but can also give you their valuable input.
At first glance managing networks of site manager and authors looks potentially challenging. They are likely to be dispersed across different locations, have diverse backgrounds, speak multiple languages and may have very limited time. Some of their contributions to date might look like an afterthought.
And yes, realistically, there may be some resource constraints if you don’t have any free time to contribute to making the interventions which can support a network.. (Yes, we know we said in the first section that this was not influenced by budget but we didn’t want to discourage you).
However there are various tactics which you can use to engage your publishing community which some companies have seen work.At the centre of this is providing a self-service approach to resources and training, and encouraging interaction so that momentum and energy within the community is maintained and members support and inspire each other.
A few suggested tactics
Here are just some of the tactics we’ve seen in operation to support these communities:
Have a dedicated community space with resources area
Pretty obvious really, especially if you’re dealing with a community of community managers, but this needs to be both a space for resources and interaction between members.
A regular get together
Having a diarised virtual meeting or check-in helps build a sense of community and also allows people to get to know each other. You can also cover specialist training such as writing for the web and also receive feedback as things happen.
Recognition and gamification.
Regularly recognising significant contributions by rewarding or mentioning efforts, or using some gentle and light hearted gamification can keep communities engaged.
Giving individual metrics for site managers with some analysis and pointers can be a great way to motivate individuals to increase adoption and engagement. The opportunity to do this however may be limited by your metrics package or your resourcing levels. Reports can be time consuming to prepare and send out.
Sharing success stories
An obvious way to engage communities is to share success stories and approaches which have worked, allowing peers to learn from each other. Central teams can also learn what works and what doesn’t.
Have an induction process
One of the real challenges for managing dispersed communities of contributors and site managers is the frequent changes of membership. Have a clear induction process, probably centred around a scheduled call or training session, so that every member receives at least the basic training required.
Do an annual or ad hoc review
If you have the resources to do it, a regular annual one-on-one session with individual members centred on improving their site or content is a great way to keep things on track. Realistically you may need to be selective about who this can be offered to.
Let’s do this
Overall we believe spending time nurturing these communities is worth the investment. It’s in your control and mandate, and you don’t have to sit there while IT dither around taking years to make a simple decision, it has an impact and its often satisfying working with these people. In other words, let’s do this.
“Back of the net Steve (another Octonauts reference). Again and again we see intranet teams keeping their publishers at an arm’s length at the same time as howling about the poor quality of content. Getting involved with people is a definite skill and enthusiasm is hard to maintain, unless you have the power, energy and determination of a primary school teacher at the beginning of term. Recruiting for energy, coaching and people skills is critical and if you are focused on, say, technology or communications this area may lack. The other thing to mention is the fabled idea of having a content strategy: What are you delivering with the content and WHY? Getting publishers clear on why they are there to do will have, let’s face it, a massive positive effect. This is “fabled” because in reality on intranets it hardly ever happens, but it is the new year and you can start with the best of intentions. ”