Originally published February 16, 2015

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You may be asked to join a community or start using an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) tool. Promotional messages may encourage you to connect, communicate, and collaborate with others.

What is often missing from such requests and messages are answers to these questions:

  1. What are community members supposed to do?
  2. What are community leaders supposed to do?
  3. When and how should you use a community or ESN?

Community/ESN members should Subscribe, Post, Attend, Contribute, Engage (SPACE):

  1. Subscribe: Get email alerts, RSS feeds, or mobile notifications and regularly read a threaded discussion board/group
  2. Post: Start a new thread or reply in a threaded discussion board/group
  3. Attend: Participate in community events
  4. Contribute: Submit content to the community newsletter, blog, wiki, or site
  5. Engage: Ask or answer a question, make a comment, or give a presentation

Community/ESN leaders should Schedule, Host, Answer, Post, Expand (SHAPE):

  1. Schedule: Line up speakers and set up events
  2. Host: Initiate and run conference calls, webinars, and face-to-face meetings
  3. Answer: Ensure that questions in the threaded discussion board/group receive replies, that discussions are relevant, and that behavior is appropriate
  4. Post: Share information which is useful to the members by posting to the community site, threaded discussion board/group, blog, and/or newsletter
  5. Expand: Attract new members, content contributions, and threaded discussion board/group posts

Here is how individuals should use a community/ESN:

  1. Ask questions in public groups so that others can answer the questions and see the answers.
  2. Ask yourself before sending an email or posting to a private group “could I post this in public instead?” If yes, then do so.
  3. Search before posting a link to see if the link has already been shared. If so, like that post instead of posting it again.
  4. Search before creating a group to see if a similar group already exists. If so, use that group instead of creating a new one.
  5. Use the SAFARIS acronym to remember what to do:
  • Share a link, tip, trick, or insight
  • Ask a question to collaborate with others
  • Find a resource, person, or site
  • Answer someone’s question
  • Recognize a colleague’s contribution or achievement
  • Inform about what you are working on, where you are, or where you will be
  • Suggest an idea and solicit input using a poll

Here is how a community/ESN should be used by members, community leaders, and organizational leaders:

  1. There is one (and only one) community/ESN group for every subject of importance to the organization, its businesses, and its people, and each one of these groups achieves critical mass.
  2. Everyone belongs to at least one group (including the one most relevant to their work), and possibly other groups.
  3. Group members pay attention to the discussions, either by setting email notifications for the group, regularly checking their online notifications, or other effective methods.
  4. Whenever a group member sees a question or a request for a resource to which they can respond with assistance, they do so.
  5. All community leaders actively monitor their groups to ensure that all questions receive an answer within 24 hours.
  6. When other channels (e.g., email), are used to share, ask, or find, those who receive these messages redirect them to the most relevant ESN groups.
  7. When someone takes the time to share useful information in the ESN, they receive positive response in the form of likes, shares, and replies.
  8. Every Thursday, most people take a moment to praise someone who helped them during the week on Thankful Thursday.
  9. People post in public groups whenever possible, and only use private groups for truly private interactions.
  10. Leaders routinely post, reply, like, and praise in the community/ESN, and don’t just use it for formal communications or events.

Also see:

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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