A Little Birdie Told Me…

Community Manager and Ambassador Network Best Practices

We host a monthly event called the Engage Round Robin - it’s a live call for partners and customers to discuss a relevant topic – and I participated in the last call centered on engaging community managers and ambassador networks. I walked away with a few conclusions that I wanted to share with you.

Partnering with our stakeholders via our Engage extranet and the Round Robin calls is awesome.

People are very active on Engage and willing to share questions, best practices, and challenges. BUT, having the chance to speak live with these folks via our Engage Round Robins takes it to a whole new level. I heard some great stories come out that wouldn’t have in any other format, and I felt that I had started to build a deeper relationship with those who participated.

 

Our crowd-sourced Adoption Framework is living, breathing, and working.

We worked with our customers and partners to create the Adoption Framework, and Community Management and Ambassador Networks are 2 key elements of the People Engagement path:

Keeping these folks engaged and active is a key way to fuel user adoption. Why does any of this matter? Social works best when you have critical mass and high participation to fuel expertise location, collaboration, and socially-enabled processes.

 

The topic of the Round Robin call can be summarized with this question regarding community managers, ambassadors/champions: 

 

How can we best use these groups to help cultivate adoption & engagement on our social intranet?

 

I wasn’t sure what type of feedback we would get, but it was clear our customers solidly address these aspects of the framework, and their stories spoke of growth and maturity. They were all past the launch stage, and told some terrific stories about launch activities they had undertaken, and we had some fruitful discussions about how to keep these important participants engaged and moving forward.

 

I heard some really great ideas, and they deserve to be shared.

I’m not naming names because that’s one of the benefits of sharing with this closed group, but we had participants from a variety of companies of various sizes, covering industries such as: professional services, consumer packaged goods, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and government. Here are some of the great practices and ideas they shared:

  • Define and maintain community governance processes that include the community request process, community manager onboarding, training, and support.  A common theme was to push back when private communities are requested – social is about openness, so be open when possible!
  • Establish a help & feedback community that models what a good community can be. Not only can you provide training resources (quick reference guides, detailed instructions, short videos), you can interact in a positive way in the activity stream and demonstrate how a good community works.
  • Make sure you have the right people, and they know their role. You really want the pull vs. push approach here – people who have a passion or interest vs. someone appointed by their manager. For community managers, this is typically straightforward because they volunteer or request a community, and your governance process can help vet the requests. For ambassadors or champions, this may vary depending on your maturity. The folks you involved at launch time that can serve as boots on the ground to raise awareness may not be as effective in 6 months as someone who is highly active and getting business value from using the tool. As for role, make it very clear what’s expected. One company recruited at least one ambassador per office to ensure that everyone was comfortable with the change taking place
  • Recognition and rewards are critical and can take many different shapes. For people to continue to play the role of community manager or champion, they need to get something out of it. Some companies award badges to those who completed ambassador training. Others use the Expert and Curator tags to help identify SMEs. Another idea is to formalize the role by making it part of performance and development plans. And nothing beats a party – make this fun for those participating. Hold face to face sessions or happy hours, facilitate best practice communities, check-in calls, and if possible even provide gifts to those who are putting in the hard work (examples included everything from pizza parties to web cams for participants).
  • As you evolve and mature, keep assessing and adjusting. Look for existing onsite meetings or interest groups where you can promote the benefits of working out loud, highlight success stories, and reward people who are already participating. Continue to provide resources to help carry the message forward, whether it’s end user education materials, or campaign materials (posters, infographics, blogs) that address ongoing challenges or areas of confusion or low participation.

 

If you’re a Sitrion customer or partner, I hope to ‘see’ you on the next Engage Round Robin. If you’re not, what are you waiting for?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tobi Anderson, Director of Training and Education

Tobi leads the efforts of Sitrion’s Education Center, focusing on enabling our staff, partners, and customers with training courses and resources, certification programs, and informal learning opportunities. She oversees the Adoption Framework and helps to evolve this approach to managing and accelerating change with the help of the crowd.

 

She has a Master’s degree in Communication, with a concentration in Organizational Development & Training. She has conducted primary research on employee engagement in small teams, and brings that passion for cultivating and growing people to her work and the message that there really is a new and better way to work.  She has experience working as a consultant and holding director level roles in various industries.

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