Google+ communities have to be one of the stand out features of Google+. There’s such a range of communities and they provide such a great social and visual experience, wouldn’t it be great if you could use these in the workplace?
In my day job over at G2 Support we’ve looked at how best to use Google+ communities for several clients. There seems to be a real desire to use something other than email for day to day communication between departments, teams and remote workers. So this leads to the question, can you drive staff engagement using Google+?
Here’s three things we’ve learnt from our time with clients discussing these needs. This is something that really interests me personally so I’m hoping to knock together further posts as new experiences come up.
One: Use a logical structure for communities
Having one community for your entire company might seem like an easy approach but it’s unlikely to be ideal for anything other than the smallest of companies. We tend to deal with project orientated clients on the whole so we find that having a few general purpose communities for locations and then a community for each project works well. So you might have one for the London office, one for the Scotland office, followed by a series of communities for each project. Those users who work on the project can join the community to get the latest news and updates and have discussions with their colleagues.
You can also use a department structure, or functional structure, with one community for each department or function within your organisation.
Two: Drive your users to the communities
This is one of the biggest issues that companies have. How to get users to engage with the community and not just stick with using email or Docs to spread data. I always try to suggest the Field of Dreams approach, if you post it they will come! It’s going to be hard to get people to break the habits that they have built up over years, and you will always have those users who will only email a document and never engage, but you could try the following;
- Give them links
If you’re using Sites for your intranet (if not, why not?) then insert community badges for the communities in Sites. Have a page dedicated either the communities as a whole or, if you have a page per project or department, feature the community badge prominently.
- Give them data
Make sure that the key data generators in your organisation post their data on the communities. If you use project leads or managers then ensure that they really engage with the idea and that they post their content and updates on the communities.
- Give them a reason
Make sure that you keep it friendly. Use the communities both as a content distribution function but also as it was designed, as a social function. Encourage people to post photos of their weekend activities there, updates about what’s going on in the area or after work. Give them another need to use it other than just work.
- Give them links
Three: Advocates make winners
This leads on from the above. If you can get some key users who are really motivated about the benefits then they can drive other staff members to use the communities. Who are the key users within your organisation? Perhaps the team leaders who can really push this during staff meetings. We assume that company leaders are involved in this transition but if not then make sure to involve them. Create a small team of people, of these ‘green dot’ users, and between you really use the communities and thrash out ideas, test things out, and make sure you know what works for you. Then spread the word out to other users.
I’d love to hear your success stories, even your epic fails, in the comments.