Today, communities play a key role in all our personal and professional spheres. We rely on them to share our opinion on a brand’s products as well as to share good business practices, ask for help from experts, and even build our networks.
Of course, these communities are not limited to networks external to the organization. They can also be created by the company itself, for example to facilitate a group of employees with common interests, projects, or roles. However, running an internal community is usually not as easy as it seems.
How can you showcase the added value of your company’s community? What good practices and tools should be put in place to get members involved? And how can you develop the community over the long haul? These are the topics we touch on in this article.
Here are nine best practices to facilitate your internal community.
Define your vision and target audience
Want to know the first step in building an internal community? Start off by clarifying who uses it and what they use it for. Here are some questions to ask yourself to define your target audience:
- Do you want to set up a community that brings together only certain sectors (sales, marketing, or IT, for example) or certain shared interests?
- Are you looking to bring together people working in one or more organizations?
- Do you speak to people at the same level (like managers) or more across various tiers?
Also, take time to think about your vision and goals for the community. What value will it add to members? Why should they buy in? Here are but a few examples:
- share tips and best practices
- help each other on a daily basis
- keep up to date with the latest news in their sector
- develop their knowledge of a specific product or service
- brainstorm together
Defining these elements beforehand will allow you to give meaning to the community, and thus recruit members who share a common vision and values.
Identify the stakeholders who will be involved in the project
Developing an internal community also means involving a certain number of stakeholders. For example, whether your community targets parts or all of your organization, you’ll need to solicit management, internal communications, human resources, IT, and all relevant business managers to launch the project.
Regardless of the type of community you want to create, it’s also important to identify:
- one or more project managers in charge of finding the best tool to facilitate your internal community
- team members who’ll be responsible for communicating the launch of the platform and creating a user charter
- ambassadors who’ll promote the community and highlight its benefits to your target audience
- moderators who will be in charge of animating and moderating the community on a daily basis
Involving these different stakeholders will bring more credibility and visibility to your community. This will be essential for convincing your future members to join you.
Set up a dedicated tool
Setting up a dedicated tool such as an intranet or an enterprise social network is also essential for facilitating an internal community. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find your way around all the tools available on the market. Here are some tips to help you choose the right platform:
- Identify the feature you need (home portal, news feed, publications, groups, chat, video conferencing, webinars, cloud storage, etc.)
- Define your key criteria. For example, which of the following will you need:
- Compare the different tools on the market on each of these criteria, and check if they have the features you need.
- Request a demo of the solutions you are interested in, and then do a free trial with some beta testers.
There are a multitude of community management tools on the market, but not all are equal. 100% made in France and easy to use, the Talkspirit platform integrates everything you need to facilitate your internal community, including a customizable home portal, a news feed, webinars, video conferencing, instant messaging, and the ability to create different types of groups.
Want to discover more tools? Check out our top 10 best software to run an internal community.
Create a communication plan
Once your network is live, it’s time to communicate! In order to best organize your actions, we advise you to create a communication plan that includes:
- the goals you want to set for yourself (for example, to get 80% of the people you invite sign in to your platform within the first three months)
- how you will measure them
- the communication actions you will undertake when launching the community (like an email campaign, a dedicated event, or a publication on your intranet)
- the stakeholders you’ll mobilize to send these communications (management, the internal communications team, your ambassadors, and more)
- the types of groups to create on your platform and the content to share in them to facilitate the community on a daily basis (like, videos, contests, polls and news summaries)
- the dates of your communications and the people who will receive them.
You can then integrate all your communications into an editorial calendar to keep track of important dates to remember.
If your communications mobilize many stakeholders (for example, Human Resources, Internal Communications, Management, the Works Council, etc.), it may also be wise to create an editorial committee. During this meeting, you will be able to define together the themes on which to communicate, and the types of content to produce each month.
Demonstrate the added value of the community
As soon as you launch your platform, think about highlighting the added value of the community to your future members. For example, will it allow them to access premium services, receive personalized content, or even meet experts in their sector?
The clearer your value proposition, the more likely your future members will be to join the community. With that in mind, here are some ideas to highlight the benefits for your community to buy in:
- Post a message and/or video on your intranet to introduce the community.
- Show your future members what the platform they will be using looks like and the type of content they can find on it.
- Organize a dedicated event to highlight the added value of the community. Allow future members to ask their questions live (such as during a webinar).
- Ask your ambassadors to announce it directly to their teams (nothing beats word of mouth!)
Don’t hesitate to use multiple communication channels, and remember: a little creativity makes your messages stand out!
Organize regular activities
That’s it: your first members have joined your platform, and everything seems to be going as planned. The challenge now is to engage and unite your community. In addition to sharing content, a good way to do this is to organize different types of activities on a regular basis, for example:
- annual seminars for all members
- conferences with testimonials from community members and/or industry experts
- workshops for sharing best practices
- live Q&A sessions
- contests and/or challenges on the themes discussed in the community (a reward at the end works well)
If possible, try to organize both remote and face-to-face events, so that everyone can interact live. This will make it easier for you to create a bond between the members of the community.
If you want to keep your internal community alive, you’ll also need to encourage members to participate! Here’s our best advice for boosting engagement: value and reward everyone’s initiatives and input.
For example, if one of your members decides to organize a specific workshop, why not highlight it on your intranet homepage? Similarly, if some members come up with innovative ideas to develop the community, take the time to congratulate them (in person, or on your dedicated tool).
To take things a step further, you can offer rewards to members who participate the most. A points system, for example, gives them access to:
- gifts (like a board game, a smartphone, or a bottle of wine)
- training courses
- learning expeditions (learning trips to discover different corporate cultures, in France or abroad)
- team building activities
Ask for feedback
Leading an internal community also means listening to its members. To do this, we recommend that you regularly conduct surveys to gather feedback from everyone on:
- the proposed events (do they correspond to members’ expectations? are they organized frequently enough?)
- shared content (is it relevant to all members?)
- the structure of the platform you use to facilitate your internal community (is it easy to use? does it have all the necessary features?)
- member participation (are they active enough on the platform? if not, what should be done to engage them more?)
Through all these surveys, you’ll be able to identify the initiatives that are most appreciated by the members (and therefore worth holding on to)—as well as those that need improvement (and therefore worth developing).
Measure the impact of your actions
Lastly, don’t forget to measure the impact of your actions by tracking several KPIs, including:
- the percentage of monthly active members on your platform
- the number of views and rates of participation (comments and likes) on your publications
- the number of members who create their own publications and make proposals on the platform
- the number of registrants and participants in your events
- the satisfaction rate of the members towards the community (measurable via a survey)
- the number of messages sent each day on the chat (the more frequent the messages, the more active your community is)
- many more!
In addition to these quantitative indicators, try to add a qualitative dimension to your monitoring. For example, you can look at the quality of the exchanges on your platform, the way your members interact remotely and face-to-face, and the various feedback they can give you in a more informal fashion.
In short, running an internal community requires defining key objectives, setting up a dedicated platform, organizing its communication, but also creating regular content and activities that bring real added value to members.
Would you like to discover more tools and best practices to facilitate your internal community? Talk to one of our experts to receive personalized support: