It’s a conundrum many Community Managers face: you know your colleagues have so much to offer your community and its members. But how the heck do you get them involved?
Erik Martin, now Vice President of Services at Commsor, turned it into something of a challenge in his previous role as Chief Community Officer at Teal, to great effect. “Our Internal Engagement Challenge ran for two weeks, 10 working days, with prizes for people who participated the most,” Erik says. “Each day’s task was shared at 9 a.m. on company Slack, and then people replied with proof they’d completed the task.”
Here are some of the tasks Erik asked his colleagues to complete:
Erik and the team measured the success of the challenge by the overall participation of the internal team (tracked daily by having colleagues who completed the task react with a specific emoji on the internal Slack) as well as the retention rate: how many people who completed the day one task also completed the day 10 task.
Did it work? “Absolutely!” Erik says. “Overall, colleagues were more likely to engage organically after the challenge. Several colleagues even volunteered to help fill in over holidays or when the primary Community Managers were on vacation.”
One of Erik’s former colleagues who took part in the challenge, Satya Chheda, former Director of Career Growth at Teal and current Coaching Partner at OnDeck, thoroughly enjoyed the community immersion.
“Receiving daily prompts empowered me to contribute to the online community of our users in a meaningful way,” she says. “It was such a simple and easy way to share something about myself or a helpful resource while engaging with the community.”
Start with small tasks and build gradually toward more creative and complex tasks. “Keep in mind not just the time involved in a task, but how intimidating it might be to someone who hasn’t participated before,” Erik says. “For example, ask people to post in a smaller channel before posting in a large one.”
Nudge your colleagues to build their tasks into another facet of their work day. “This could be a work-related ritual, or starting back to work after lunch, or anything else they’re already doing on a daily basis,” Erik says. “Research shows that if we group a new habit with an existing routine (like flossing before brushing our teeth), then we are much more likely to stick with the new habit than if we tried to add it independently.”
Update the internal team on progress and who has participated so far to encourage some good-natured competition. “Personally thank people who participate early on, especially if they are not on your immediate team, or someone you don’t regularly interact with.”
Erik recommends reminding the internal team regularly that missing a few days is totally OK. “Suggest they just go back and make up the tasks they missed, or skip them and pick back up on the current day’s task,” he says. “You don’t want people’s guilt that they haven’t participated or that they stopped participating to create friction.”
As always, buy-in from the powers that be can go a long way. “Try and get personal commitments from leaders, both formal and informal, in the company to participate at the start,” Erik says.
“Give them advance notice and offer to walk through the tasks with them if they are uncertain. Remind them if needed and point out that their participation has a ripple effect.
If all goes according to plan, you’re going to have several colleagues happily participating in your community and keen to carry on. How will you help them do that? Erik recommends having some potential follow-up campaigns for those super users sketched out.
“You will learn a lot from the campaign about what works and what doesn’t for internal buy-in,” he says. “As with any community, the small group of most active super users will drive an outsized percentage of activity. Show your appreciation both publicly and privately and ask them for feedback about how to make the process easier and more rewarding next time.
“With a little luck and some hard work behind the scenes, you’ll likely have at least some super users who don’t want the challenge to end. Even if it’s a small group, have some loose ideas about how such an internal group might continue to help with engagement on a lightweight but ongoing basis after the challenge runs its course.”
You’re in luck — our Community Engagement Playbook features more than 50 of them! Head over here to download it for free.