The workplace is changing.
The way we communicate is changing. The way we work is changing. Even the way we manage is changing.
These changes are driven by the influx of social tools in the business world. More and more organizations are adopting social communication tools such as Facebook at Work, Yammer, Slack, and more. In fact, according to Frost & Sullivan’s research, Analysis of the Global Enterprise Social Networking Market, the number of enterprise social subscribers is expected to increase 157 percent by 2018 (535 million subscribers), compared to 2013.
These tools mean employees can be more productive from anywhere, while giving managers more visibility on the actual output of their departments in order to make real, data-driven decisions. It also means that those same managers will find themselves in a role more akin to a community manager than they’ve been used to in the past.
Although handling employees in a virtual social community can have overlap with the traditional in-person management style, there are a few things everyone should know in order to create a healthy, productive, and collaborative social community.
Try implementing regular events or moments to reengage the community. An online community can function at a very basic level where people rarely post and or comment, but it will never achieve the type of engagement you want from an enterprise-level community. And a disinterested, unexcited community is less likely to partake in conversations that can lead to innovations, inventive problem-solving, and culture-building.
Use pictures, articles, and other pieces of relevant content to encourage people to join the conversation and, hopefully, inspire them to begin new conversations of their own.
A little inspiration and validation can go a long way when dealing with a remote online community.
People like to be validated, they like to be engaged, and they’re more likely to take part in the community when they have been specifically noticed. By mentioning people directly in your posts, you have a greater chance of obtaining a response and quickly catching their attention.
You’ll see a greater response rate and higher engagement when you call out people by name (by tagging them) rather than posting general, vague messages without a defined audience. Tagging a person in the conversation also adds a gentle pressure and visibility to the rest of the community. No one wants to look like they don’t care in front of their peers and management.
As people become more active, be sure to give them some recognition. More than that, do everything you can to reward people when they display initiative and enthusiasm.
This goes back to some of our previous tips, but once again you should call people out and highlight their good work for all to see. Positive reinforcement is the key to getting people excited and encouraged to continue participating.
As the community manager, you are there to host the party. Make sure everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and thoughts. Step in when you notice someone being inappropriate. Point your community members in the right direction when they need help.
However, avoid being too authoritative or domineering. You’re not the community police, and you don’t want to take on that role. Few people like to be told what to do and how to do it. Be kind to your people and you will receive kindness in return.
Let us know. We’re always interested to hear how others engage online communities and manage employees in a remote environment. And if you haven’t already, check out the amazing CMX Hub. Let us know on Facebook or keep an eye out for our regular Facebook Live discussions, where we will be tackling such topics.