As you may know, I lead the World Wide Social Software community within IBM. The Social Software Community @ IBM was launched on March 2007 with 200 initial members. Today, it has over 2000 members. On Friday, I got the following email from one of my peers at IBM.
I realized that this is a question that I get frequently from various parts of IBM (as they are launching their own communities) and even from customers as they launch communities on their Enterprise 2.0 platform (which,typically, is Lotus Connections). And even though it's a question I get a LOT, I never thought about blogging my answer. So here it is.
Here's my response, word-for-word:
- Community membership: One thing I believe has really helped us is the diversity of our membership. We have people from all kinds of organizations at IBM: Services, Research, Marketing, Development, Sales, Support, Documentation, etc. In any community, participation is always low ( I would say ~10%), so the more members you have, the more participation you'll get.
- Regularly Scheduled Activities: Make sure you have regular activities, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, monthly. Community members should expect some sort of activity at a predefined date/time on a regular basis. We initially started a weekly call with no agenda. it was an open forum to answer questions. As Connections matured, we've now moved to a bi-weekly call. Every once in a while, we hijack a call and we actually put an agenda when we have guest speakers come join us.
- Keep Members Engaged via Alternative Methods: I've gotten tremendous feedback that members really like the newsletter. Therefore, plan to create a monthly newsletter to keep members engaged. This is very useful in global communities where members are in different timezones, geographies, or not online all of the time.
- Community core team: Whlie I do most of the work as the community leader, I rely on other co-leaders to provide me content for the newsletter and ideas for guest speakers. The core team is made up of the LC Distinguished Engineer, LC WW Sales Leader, LC Product Manager, LC Sales Evangelist, LC Services Liason, LC Business Partner Lead.
- Face-To-Face Meetings: although very hard in our world, I take advantage of Lotusphere to set up face to face meetings and at least get to know each other personally.
What do you think? What would you add / change ?