Building World Class Communities

I am back in the blogging saddle again. I had a bit of a hiatus as I transitioned roles over the summer. I moved from focusing on Enterprise 2.0 (social computing) and did a 360 degree return back to social media marketing. Moving forward I will be offering robust perspective & insight on leveraging social technologies for collaboration, communication & connections for both employee productivity & effective engagement externally with customers.

I was recently reading a Mashable article on HOW TO: Create a World-Class Online Community for Your Business. The post is referencing a recent whitepaper published by Telligent. The article puts a strong stake in the ground – “Name the companies that set the standards for social media use in business. Nothing coming to mind immediately? Me neither.” It is a very provocative statement. I think fellow practitioners would all agree that we haven’t crossed the chasm yet. However, I think there are a lot of solid examples of businesses that have the right ingredients to “bake the cake.”

I went back in time to August 2007 and reviewed a promo video that Bob Duffy, Josh Hilliker and I did for the launch of Open Port, Intel’s first external online community. I was expecting to hear what we spoke about to be “so 2007”. I was surprised to discover that our philosophy and approach still holds true today. So after 3-1/2 years, is world class status that far away? This article draws out something I have been saying for years – the technology is about 25% of the challenges, the other 75% is behavior & social science.

  • Identify Business Objectives: I couldn’t agree with this more. I remember speaking with a senior VP of HR at a Fortune 100 company about social media use. He was perplexed with how the CEO’s internal blog is being leveraged. I asked the question – “What were you trying to achieve with the CEO blog?” It turns out they didn’t have a specific objective – it was the “trend” and they jumped on it. Just because the mountain is there doesn’t mean you have to climb it. For all of our external communities, we require a solid definition of how the community is incorporated into customer engagement strategies, org’s objectives and how success will be measured. This is no guarantee, but it does ensure we aren’t climbing the mountain just because it was there.

  • Emphasize Being Personal: Way back in August 2007 with the launch of Open Port, we spoke about authenticity. Communities are made of people. Our most vibrant internal and external communities are a testament to this. For example, internally we have had huge success leveraging social tools to create virtual communities of practice. The Learning Community of Practice has connected employees across the globe who lead learning efforts inside Intel. Best practices are shared, new connections made and even a virtual conference was held.

  • Create a culture of belonging: *The Intel Support Community is designed to enable customers to resolve issues, share best practices and discuss emerging trends. The critical hinge pen is the encouragement of peer to peer sharing. In a very short period of time, this community hit a milestone of 10,000 posts!

  • Be a Source of Relevant Content: This has been a core belief of Intel’s since the beginning of social media. It is a solid pillar of our marketing efforts and our internal collaboration. With the information overload in full force and employees citing challenges with finding information & people to do their job – quickly finding relevant content is key to the user experience. We are taking this a step further by not only ensuring that content created is value-add; but also improving ways that one may find that information faster. This recognizes another industry shift occurring. The discovery of information is not just occurring via search engines, but evolving via social sharing from within your network. We are creating ways for curated content to surface that is personalized to the user’s needs.

  • Leverage Wisdom of the Crowd: We have great examples of this pillar. One that is a stand out is an internal impromptu leveraging of employee wisdom. An employee posted a blog to solicit money saving ideas for Intel. It was called “Every Coin Counts.” The response was overwhelming and resulted in hundreds of money-saving ideas.

  • Highlight Influential Members & Reward Members: This is a gap, but I am working to change that. On the external side of social media, I am partnering with our Social Media Center of Excellence and across community managers to create a member “reputation & recognition” system. In my mind this is a robust program that must be careful built & managed. It goes well beyond baked in algorithms in a community platform. Stay tuned- 2011 should be a big year for finally launching this effort

  • Establish & Enforce Guidelines: Intel was one of the first to establish guidelines) for both our internal and external communities. They are simple, easy to comprehend, align to Intel culture. There are more “do’s” than “don’ts”. We are strong believers in addressing guidelines and governance before you head too far down the social media road. It ensures risks are mitigated and that communities are set up for health, wellness and success.

  • Give Members Privileges: A highly successful community that the average public doesn’t see is our community for Intel’s Channel Partners. It is a membership program with associated privileges – access to information, Intel subject experts & executives plus a very cool place for ideation- (channel partners recommend what products Intel should develop).

Our journey is not over. If it was as easy as installing software and going on auto-pilot; I would have been out of a job years ago. Are we world class? Likely not. But I am confident we have the very important ingredients to bake a beautiful cake.

7 thoughts on “Building World Class Communities

  1. Laurie,
    I’m glad the article spurred some thought around what Intel has done to create a leading community. Intel – along with Dell and other well known leaders – is one of the companies that influenced a lot of our thinking around what it takes to become world class.
    This work was the first in a series we are working on. We’ve already announced the next webinar, Strategies for Building a World Class Community on March 23rd. Hope to see you there.
    Rob Howard
    CTO / Telligent

  2. @ Rob- Thanks for the comment! We appreciate the shout out as an industry leader. The webinar sounds very interesting. Cheers.

  3. Laurie,
    Do you find that the relationship between social computing (E2.0) and social media marketing is blurring? I don’t want to get caught in the popular “social…insert next word here” argument. I do see, however, the barriers falling between the bi-directional conversation that is required for marketing today and the internal enterprise community and related changes in work-flow. Isn’t building a bridge between these two separate bodies of work become something we can easily bridge (selectively)? Where do the barriers fall when Jive rolls out version 5 – making your support community jump to the next level of social (exciting!).
    I look forward to continuing the conversation Laurie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. So nice having you back in action, an I’m glad you’re able to make time for sharing your clear ideas and point of view. Fun looking back at the video that in many was a springboard for so many things thanks to some inspiring people like you, Bob and superstar Josh. Keep sharing what’s stretching your imagination.

  5. Laurie you are doing a great Job and congrats for launching the Community for Intel and the Community you are Building Now will be Very useful for Business marketing.

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