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Your employees probably aren’t keen to help you build a community. It’s more work for them. It’s not even in their job description. If you force them to get involved, you’re going to get the minimum effort.
So don’t force them, addict them. Here’s a few ideas to get your employees involved in building your community.
- Interview Them. People like to feel important. Interview an employee for the community. Ask for opinions and comments on the interview. I bet your employee joins in the conversation. Then get him or her to interview someone else for the community.
- Introduce them to fans. Introduce them to fans of their work. If they work in marketing, introduce them to people that like their marketing materials.
- Talk about them. Talk about your employees in the community. No one can resist learning what people are saying about them.
- Community-voted employee of the month. Every month let the community vote on their favourite staff members from a list. Those with 0 votes might decide it would help if people knew who they were – and what a way to improve customer service. You might also want to turn this into…
- A popularity ladder. Keep an ongoing popularity ladder. With awards for the top members, most improved etc. Copy the sports team format of fans favourite.
- Give an employee an advice column. Give employees responsibility for a 4 week advice column on one specific aspect of your product or service. Why 4 weeks? It's low pressure and won't last forever. They might just enjoy the interactions and fame.
- Online customer complaints. Be bold; build a specific place for online customer complaints. The customer community can complain against products, specific staff interactions, anything they like.
- Ask for feedback and improvements. Ask the community to give their feedback and recommendations – directly to the employee’s e-mail address.
- Ask the employees to run a competition. Ask an employee to run a competition or innovation project related to their field of expertise.
- Moderation and Responsibility. Give them power to moderate and responsibility for a forum/group within your community.
- Name areas of the community after them. Sneaky, but name areas of the community after staff members.
- Bring it up in staff meetings. Make the community report item 5) in every meeting. What’s the latest news, developments, ideas and complaints?
- 20% rule. Like Google, offer a 20% rule for innovation and getting involved in your community. They don’t have to use it, but I bet they want to.
- Only let the top employees participate. Now everyone wants to participate. Once you’ve reached top employee status, you can join and represent the company to the community.
- Set an employee –vs- community challenge. What’s a big challenge facing your organisation? Set a challenge with your employees competing against the community. See who comes up with the best solution.
- Create profiles with ugly pictures. Another sneaky idea, but effective. Create profiles for each employee – but use pictures they don’t like.
- Participatory content. Start a series all your employees can be involved with. Try “Day in the life of….” It’s easy and builds relationships with members.
Above all, look for opportunities involving responsibility, fame, and their ego over financial incentives. Being rated and judged by the community is a power motivator to keep returning.
(Images: Student participation in open source projects (A professor's perspective), a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from opensourceway's photostream; trophy 1 | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 48424574@N07's photostream)