Archive for April, 2012

Identifying the needs for your online community

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Each online group will go through different stages not just in maturity but in the focus.  Identifying the key focus of the group can help you in planning the activity and resourcing the group correctly.

What will be your main focus for your group?

  • Helping – members help each other to solve day-to-day issues and experts can be invited in to help.
  • Best Practice – developing and disseminating best practices, guidelines and procedures issued to provide instant access to validated and up to date knowledge and information.
  • Knowledge Stewarding needs – organising, managing and stewarding a body of knowledge from which members can draw.
  • Innovation needs – Where the creation of breakthrough ideas, knowledge and practices is paramount

Using the template below can help you identify where you should focus first.  Tick the boxes to help you identify where you should focus.  And don’t forget to review this over time as the focus will change.

Helping needs

connecting people
building trust
creating a forum to support requests for help and assistance
creating an environment to share, assess value and disseminate good ideas
creating self-help functions
accelerating collaboration across organisations or a specialism
strengthening networks and improving employee relations
facilitating professional peer learning and drawing from expert knowledge and experience


Best practice needs

increasing exchange of lessons learnt and good practice
seeking new understanding of developments and implementations
collaborating to develop, consult and validate practice
publishing and disseminating specific practices
verifying effectiveness and benefit of practice
accelerating the speed of quality decision making and implementation of best practice
Achieve higher standards in projects, strategies and improving outcomes
enlisting leading experts


Knowledge Stewarding needs 

creating a shared understanding of issues
providing instant access to knowledge and information in an organised and intuitive way
accessing collective and vetted knowledge that is managed, summarised and up to date
bring together timely and relevant knowledge and information
providing quick and easy access to up to date news, publications, websites and practice in one place
increasing opportunities for self-help and personal development
collaborating to increase the productivity of ideas and knowledge
helping with leadership issues


Innovation needs

creating a safe and trusted environment where innovation can take place
supporting creative, experimental, multi-disciplinary and cross boundary working
sharing and developing expert knowledge and thinking
developing innovative practices
accelerating the rate of innovation through sharing and testing out ideas
providing opportunities to approach and work with new technologies, new business and new approaches
providing channels to support the development of new ideas and ways of working
sharing warnings and deciphering trends



The Great Easter Egg Mystery

April 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Bright Easter EggsMoving from one platform to another is a huge undertaking and a tough task.

Not only for the people behind the scene trying to make it happen, but also for the users of the system.

How many times have you seen the uproar when facebook changes some of the navigation?

Image what it’s like when you have a brand new system that everyone has to get used to it including you.

So how do you get members to become more accustomed to the new system?  Is there something fun that you can do to help them learn how to navigate around?

This was our issue.  And this is where the great Easter Egg Mystery came about.

Most people have heard of Easter Eggs that are hidden on DVD’s so why not try this approach on a community site.

We hid 5 eggs around the site and created a little competition to find them all.  And I have seen countless egg puns over the last few weeks

The locations where

  • My Connections
  • Hub
  • Blogs
  • Edit profile
  • Help

107 people entered and we had some great feed back including a poem

“Was I quick enough?  Or was I too slow? I’m sure that someone,Will let me know.”

“This has been really fun and I’ve learnt loads, well done for the initiative “

“A fun half-hour…..”

So if anyone has tried any innovative ideas to help members learn how to navigate around a new site I would love to hear them.

How to deal with information overload in Hotseats and Online discussions

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Seven MonthsThanks to Richard Millington atfeverbee  for the great blog about Information overload in online communities.  Its good timing as usual as I look back on the online discussion for the Social Media Weekon the Knowledge Hub via the#localgov gets social group

It was so successful that it broke one of the forums that we where using and had to start another thread.

Richard Millington mentioned in his blog that Jones et al. (2008) (don’t you love academic referencing?) found empirical evidence that information overload significantly constrained interaction between members.

They discovered that 40 participants interacting within 20 minutes was the maximum number which could be sustained. 

As the volume of messages increases. Users are:

1) More likely to respond to simpler messages (shorter, dumber, fun).

2) More likely to end active participation.

3) More likely to generate simpler responses. 

40 participants might not be the exact number, especially within forum platforms.

But there is a number…and that number is very important.

Beyond that number the quality of interaction plummets, the number of active members plummets (in favour of fewer, highly active members, posting silly comments to each other). 

Your mileage with any of these routes will vary. What’s important is the number. It exists. It might be 40 participants in 20 minutes, it might be 100 in 10. Make sure you identify your number and prevent information overload.

Thanks to Richard this is something that I’m more aware of now.

Over the years we introduced a concept called the Hotseat to the Communities of Practice platform where it “enables participants to ask a person in the hotseat (usually an expert in the field) questions to which they can respond over a set period of time”.

And this will continue within the Knowledge Hub.

So why is all this important.  Well during our session led expertly by @mick_rea and @jamie_kirk on the topic of the role of social media in local government. In a two hour period we had 27 participants, 190 contributions and over 1000 views.

So make sure that if you have a hot topic for discussion that you allow enough time to stop the information overload, which will allow a greater chance of participation.

%d bloggers like this: