Ok - wait a minute. This article is amazing! I am so glad that you wrote about this subject. THANK YOU!!!
For a split second; when I first started reading the first part of the title, I thought, 'oh another story about a brand's Superusers. I'll check it out'. But props to you, @mhock for flipping the script a bit and actually sharing the story of discovering and galvanizing the right employees within your company to become part of the Community's success story.
A weird thing about our very own B2B high-tech Atlas Community is that even though Khoros sells Community software, and just about every single employee is aware of our Atlas Community, we still have a ways to go with getting a majority of our employee base to actually use it with any level of consistency.
Granted, I am a big believer in a brand offering to meet people in the channel of their choice, but I am unrepentant and unapologetic in my belief that Community is they most efficient way to create, preserve, and curate knowledge of the folksy variety. And why should this not extend to internal 'institutional knowledge' as well?
A successful Community does not have to begin and end exclusively with customers. Actually, in my experience, a great B2B high-tech community has a lively employee area that goes unseen by the customers. And the golden fleece eventually becomes a few of those employees voluntarily and organically participating (within the Employee Guidelines of course) in the customer area of the Community.
Thanks again for the article. It was a refreshing read.
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Thank you, @CoryD, for the brilliant editing and production touch-ups.
And thank you to @CrystalL for all of the coordination and management.
This first dive of mine into joining the podcast was fun, and I am looking forward to helping with many more in the future. Nothing but deep respect for my co-hosts as well. What a great bunch to roll with!
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No worries on a late response. I hope you had a nice Holiday Season, Piper!
To me, it does sound like there is a bigger internal problem within the business at this point. Leadership not empowering (or worse, not trusting) the team to do their job and make the right decisions around best-practices is likely to be a combination of both personality and business-culture issues.
Generally, in these situations, appealing to the business sponsor is the best course of action. If the business sponsor tends to be feckless or is not a position, politically, to put his or her foot down within leadership circles, then finding allies within leadership across other business units (or other business divisions!) is the next course of action.
I might also add that the Khoros CSM and/or the Khoros Account Executive might be another resource to tap. I certainly do not want to send any of my fellow employees into a dysfunctional situation, but sometimes a voice-of-reason from outside the business (and in this case, a voice that represents deep knowledge of both Community platform and Community practice) can help sway opinions....or at the very least, get people to revisit their previously entrenched opinions.
And, lastly, props to you for trying to help the Community (and its team) deal with this. It is not for the faint-of-heart, so I salute you.
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The way I see it, you really have two issues. One is way harder to deal with than the other. Here goes:
1. From the outset, there were no clear rules, guidelines, or standards for the Community team in regards to boards / groups justifying their existence. A stalwart fixture within Community Best Practices is to follow the 'less is more' maxim when expanding Community discussion areas. So this is a huge oversight that it ever got this way. There is nothing more uninspiring than a vast Community with limited activity. If you have ever been to a dead city or a burnt out town that has fallen on hard times, you know how foreboding it feels. If the Community continues down this way, it will eventually fail. However, this is all very manageable. There are plenty of threads in our Community outlining the best practices around Community Structure. Many of them are customer-facing and affable enough as to be convincing. You will need to find those customer-facing threads that make your point and research them. Then, exposing the best of those threads to the Community's business sponsor *could* be helpful (it actually depends on how empowered the business sponsor is, and also how much they are really watching their Community investment)
2. The business is not empowering the Community Management team, and conversely, the Community team is seeking permission to do their job. THIS IS A REAL PROBLEM! It is a problem that the business sponsor of the Community initiative will have to weigh-in on. It is a problem that the Community Management team will have to also solve for the future. And lastly, the business will have to confront the fact that if they have been warned, and if they are choosing to ignore the experts, that they are unashamedly providing a poor customer experience when it comes to people socially interacting, on-domain, with the brand.
There are no 'negative metrics', per se, so I would not use that kind of terminology when speaking with the customer. It should be re-phrased as 'the opportunity for sustained and healthy growth is being hampered by bloat'. Make sure you are clear when you use language like 'metrics', 'trends', and 'benchmarks'. Be even more clear when you start talking about 'KPIs' and/or 'Business Value' too.
I dont mean to come down on you. Please do not take it personally. But anytime I encounter this kind of overt denial of best practices, I am forced to conclude that there is negligence afoot. It is negligent on the customer's part. There is sheepishness on the Community Management team's part, and by virtue of that, it is also negligent. There is no other way to articulate it, even though I know it sounds rather harsh. But please consider how much time and money are being spent on this endeavor. Sobering speech seems appropriate here.
I am sure the customer does not want their Community to fail. If nobody will do anything, then there needs to be multiple escalations across numerous business units. Now is not the time for hesitation or cowardice. This needs to be figured out. Proving the case starts with educating the customer. Sharing whitepapers, blog articles, or other testimonials on the subject of a taut Community Structure may be in order. Diving into Community benchmarks from similar Communities can also make a point. Data and perspective are the levers to use. But you need to use them. You are the Paul Revere here. Ask for help if you need it, but make it happen!
And please let us know how it goes. I would love to hear the follow-up. These situations have a way of either getting much better or much worse. I am, of course, hoping for the former rather than the latter. Good luck and Happy Holidays.
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