Showing off your loyalty towards a brand takes quite a bit of dedication. With the [not-so] recent introductions of location-based services (LBS) apps like foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Facebook and Yelp, we’re all guilty of “checking-in” to our favorite venues and broadcasting that action to our community of followers.
The drive at first was purely the novelty of the service. Nothing like it existed. But to keep members interested, the services needed to evolve and evolve quickly. Introducing gaming elements like Leaderboards, Mayorships, Dukes, Duchesses, badges and points systems was a no-brainer. The competitiveness, rewards and deals drove growth of the services. But I find myself less and less compelled to continue checking-in and maintain the status levels I’ve achieved at each frequented location. I have to admit, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve capitalized on a reward or deal. Which makes me ask the question; has the market been saturated with heavy-handed check-in members to the point where status levels are no longer obtainable? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve held the same 10 Mayorships on foursquare for as long as I can remember and that number rarely ever changes +/-1.
Will I continue to check-in? Sure. But it’s definitely not for the reasons when I first set out using the services. It’s now about what’s next. When I was younger, I worked at a local grocery store. At the beginning of my shift, I would have to punch my time card using this monstrous industrial looking clock. And that’s what LBS feels like to me at this point in time. I’m punching a clock out of necessity and not for the fun-ness factor. It’s kind of like watching HBO’s original series Entourage. The stories and acting get harder to watch season after season, but you stick in there because you have to see how Vince’s career ends.
What do LBS shops have up their sleeves? What’s the next evolution of the service? Which LBS apps do you use? Where do you see the industry going?
I caught a webcast this morning with Pearson’s [only] community manager Kim England, “Always Learning at Pearson – Getting Internal Communities off to the Right Start.” Kim did a bang-up job presenting and shared some great insight into Neo’s success. Neo is the internally-branded online community for Pearson employees with the appropriate tag line “Working as One.”
The most notable highlights of the webcast are below:
- Hundreds of disparate intranets
- Silo’ed information and knowledge
- Inability to find subject matter experts
- Inconsistent best practices
- Tyranny of email
- Active members – 32,183 monthly logins
- Wiki documents – 60,000
- Threads – 25,000
- Social bookmarks – 10,000
- Videos – 10,000
- 5,881 groups
- 25% secret
- 36% private
- 26% open
- 13% members only
How is your internal community benchmarking against Pearson?
- Recruit evangelists – (Beta launched to 700 early adopters). No content was seeded when the initial invite went out to the early adopters. This was surprising to hear and normally goes against best practices. If members don’t have content to interact with, how do they know what to do, what to say, what’s expected of them? Despite going against the norm, the community grew to 5,000 members before the hard launch.
Tip: Make sure you have a few difficult (complainers, debaters, naysayers) members and manage those conflicts early to set the tone.
- Leadership buy-in (the top-down approach) as well as leadership involvement from a content-generation perspective.
Tip: Have executive set their status update to recognize employees. Start an executive blog for thought leadership and company transparency. Use video to circulate company news in an alternative format.
- Support and encourage, but don’t control. This comes in the form of clear community guidelines on how to behave in the community, again, created at the executive level.
- Allow the social site to thrive. Let members create personal interest groups, i.e. cycling, foodies, movie-goers. It brings people together and eventually spawns work-related discussions. This gets members to become familiar with the community tools and the platform as a whole too.
- Use as team for best practice, measure success. Collaborate on projects, leverage for conferences and events.Crowd-source on community improvements.
- Migrate intranets and other CMS as soon as possible. Pearson has migrated 129 intranets with another 39 to go.
Tip: Don’t map over the existing intranet structure. Be more flat and use categories and tags to organize the content.
A big move for Pearson is to bridge Neo with their external communities and using analytics to focus engagement and training. Neo is localized in four languages and looking to expand so that all members can participate in their native languages.
Soapboxers can be a tricky bunch to manage. They often carry extremely strong personalities within online communities, often replying to every post – possibly multiple times, to really drive home their point of view. Note: They are not to be confused with power users.
Based on my observations, ‘boxers post just to hear himself talk. They feel that they are the resident subject matter expert (which may be true) and all other opinions that oppose theirs are simply incorrect.
If not managed early, ‘boxers can spiral out of control. Often times, they begin to bully other members and use explicit or derogatory language towards them. The obvious outcome? Your members will be stymied (believe it or not, first time I’ve used that word) by this behavior and you’ll see an instant drop in return visits and member contributions.
Be cordial at first. Have one on one communications with the ‘boxer asking them to tone it down and respect others’ opinions. Point them to the community guidelines as a reminder of accepted behavior.
If they continue in their ways, it’s time for some moderation. Have all their posts immediately hit the moderation queue to be screened for a probationary period. This may cause more work for your moderation team, but in the best interest of the community, it’ll be worth it. What if your community platform doesn’t allow such targeted moderation? Suspend the account for 30 days. This will send a clear message that these are serious offenses and there’s no place for it in your community.
Ok, so you’ve tried everything by now and their still right back at it with their antics. It’s time to ask yourself, is it worth all the time, effort and resources to keep this member? And if you are asking yourself this question, you’ve already answered it. NO, it is not worth it. It’s time to cut this member loose and move on. I understand your hesitance, but believe me, more good will come out of banning this member than bad. New members will begin to emerge. Why? Because you once again created a non-threatening environment for all community members to enjoy.
Do you have soapboxers in your community? How did you manage them? What was the outcome?
Having clear and defined community objectives will help guide your members’ actions. They’ll guide your members to the type of content you, as a company, are looking for and the type of actions that are acceptable from your members. Basically, the objectives will define the tone and personality of your community.
These objectives should take the form of verbs to indicate a call-to-action, much like marketing messages do. But these verbs need to be more descriptive than “Start a blog,” “Collaborate on a wiki” or “Upload Photos.” Members ultimately need to know why.
Take a look at these successful communities that designed with this verb-driven engagement model. I purposely left out the “why” so you can view it in context with the respective communities.
iReport: Share – Discuss – Be heard
my Health Communities: Connect – Share – Support
SolidWorks: Discuss – Search – Learn
PlanetPTC: Showcase – Network – Inspire
Topliners: Imagine It – See It – Do It
LinkedIn: Stay – Find – Control
Foursquare: See – Learn – Unlock
Intel: Share – Collaborate – Innovate
Are you using this verb-driven engagement models? What three tenants are driving your community’s participation?