People love to talk. We know this, yet still many organisations are wary when it comes to introducing social learning initiatives. But are those making the leap really making the most of the benefits of social learning? In the Towards Maturity Benchmark Report 2015-16, we discovered that 16% of organisations are currently experimenting with communities of best practice and 12% with in-house social media, with these figures expected to increase in the coming years. So with organisations starting to take an interest in social learning, how can we ensure as many of our learners as possible are engaging with our enterprise social networks (ESNs)?
Don’t lead with work
Just because we understand the benefits of social learning, it doesn’t mean your users will be as enthused initially. Start off by promoting your ESN as a place for people to interact, share stories and discuss ideas - not as a work task. You could even kick-start your ESN with a competition to get people registering and signing up, before introducing more learning elements.
Find your amplifiers
Some people are natural influencers, and can be powerful ambassadors for your ESN. Identify these people and encourage them to spread the word about your social learning programme to help build the community. People are more likely to trust their peers than the people telling them to use the ESN, making this a valuable way to attract more people to the program.
Reach out to the quiet ones
Equally, don’t forget about the lurkers. Most users of ESNs (and social networks in general) tend to be fairly passive, preferring to consume information than contribute. Speak to them to find out why they’re not currently contributing. Understanding their perspective can be an invaluable way to reposition the way you market your ESN to your community.
Share your stories
Draw attention to the great things happening within the community. This could be in the form of informal emails or as part of an internal newsletter. Shine the spotlight on especially interesting or useful conversations, and recognise those who are making an effort to contribute to the community.
Be clear on ownership
Decide upfront who ‘owns’ each conversation to avoid unnecessary or inappropriate intervention or moderation. This is a sure-fire way to kill any engagement. If everyone knows where they stand, they will feel more confident about sharing their own opinion without worrying about who they should defer to.
Moderate fairly and consistently
If people see their posts being deleted without warning, this could put them off contributing entirely. The moderator’s role is to attend, to observe and to support users, and occasionally to stop inappropriate activities. Be on hand to help when you’re needed, and be there to guide, not to shut down conversations without fair warning.
Make it safe to share
With the proliferation of mainstream social networking sites, it can be easy to forget that many people are still not familiar with these programs and don’t trust them. Pay extra attention to these people, and ensure they know that anything they share is safe. The permanence of sharing online can be worrying for many people, so make sure you support anyone who may be wary of committing themselves to posting in a community.
This is just a starting point - there are many other things to consider when it comes to creating a safe, enjoyable and productive enterprise social network. For more ideas and tips, why not download our free guide to boosting engagement with your social learning? We’d also love to hear any of your own tips and social success stories below.