What are your top tips for companies who are about to embark on a employee internal community?

After our recent Benelux customer user group, I heard some of the challenges around getting an internal community started. For example stakeholders are an integral part of the process, they need to be on-board from the start and actively using the community. It's also important to make sure employees have the courage and confidence to post whatever they would like to and not be told off for doing so. There were benefits too...for example seeing how quickly a post of an important piece of news fly's around the company knowing it's been viewed by all, even if there is not an interaction with it. A really important benefit of course is bringing people closer together, this is a big win!  I would love to hear your thoughts if you have recently been or are working on an internal community project, or perhaps you are member of one and have some tips to share?

  • Hi Lucy, great question. I have some years experience with internal communities and I think the one thing that sets an internal community apart from an open community, is that the members are pre-defined. Or in other words: your audience is already a community offline.

    You have to work with a specific set of people, and you need to include all of them, whether they like it or not. This means you can only move as fast as the slowest team, and you have to allow time for people to develop new skills and change their habits. For example: stop emailing to all and start blogging.

    In addition, because your community already exists offline, you have to integrate the online community activity with already existing offline events, meetups, connections and subgroups. But most importantly, integrate the community strategy with the strategy and goal of the organisation. This will be both the shortest route to adoption AND the best long-term guarantee for the community to continue.

    If you are interested, I can recommend following #ESNchat on Twitter https://twitter.com/esnchat follow live on Thursdays or check the archives for previous conversations.

  • As I teamed with I can only add that we selected a hybrid operation of Internal and External Community in ONE system. The employee engagement was trainstation "Moscow" on the "Trans-Mongolia Express to Beijing". We found that our employees were good at Sending and Consuming but not at Communicating. So, before we could offer our Customers?Partners a worldclass engagement, we first needed to teach our Employees how to communicate amongst themselves. This last stint (my 4th ) has worked out well and we see huge traction. We are now in a position to expand the conversation towards our Customers and Partners in the same system. The big benefit is that they need no new system or new skill. Just a new group.

    Needless to say this is not for the 'fainthearthed' so the big + was some pretty good teamwork between , Former Member and Former Member together with a clear shared vision.