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June 20, 2013


Getting Internal Communities Off to the Right Start

by massmarotta
Pearson Education

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:

Business challenges

  • Hundreds of disparate intranets
  • Silo’ed information and knowledge
  • Inability to find subject matter experts
  • Inconsistent best practices
  • Tyranny of email

The Numbers

  • 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?

Ensuring Success

  • 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.  

What’s Ahead?

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.