Powering the Network: How a Social Intranet Fuels Different Communities

By Simpplr Marketing
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The ability to support a community of employees is one of the most powerful features of a social intranet. Communities are online spaces where groups of employees with a common interest can discuss topics, access relevant content and share knowledge.

Communities benefit organizations in multiple ways, for example:

  • Sharing knowledge between employees
  • Driving innovation
  • Enabling individual learning and developing expertise
  • Making processes more efficient
  • Cutting across organizational and locational silos
  • Creating personal connections and driving networking
  • Helping create a culture of collaboration
  • Reflecting the diversity in your organization
  • Letting people have fun!

In any organization there will be many different types of groups who use community spaces to help them get their work done. Being aware of the different types and their needs can help you to recognize opportunities for your social intranet to help these communities and also how to optimize spaces for different needs.

Divisions, departments and locations

The most common communities on any intranet are those dedicated to the different divisions, functions and locations within organizations. Having an online group helps distribute communications, allows discussions and provides access to resources that are only of interest to those within that department or location. By restricting communications to these groups, the overall intranet stays more relevant to each individual employee.

Projects and work teams

Project teams and smaller teams can work more efficiently with a dedicated work space on the social intranet. These spaces are frequently used to share documents and updates, but can also be used to coordinate activities and ask questions.

An online workspace usually replaces communications that were previously done by email and is often far more efficient. It also means that everybody sees the latest versions of documents and communications don’t get lost.

Because of the sensitivity of some projects, some workspaces can’t be hosted on the social intranet, and some workspaces need to be private rather than open for all employees to see.

Communities of practice

Communities of practice are important communities based around a profession, skill, discipline or sometimes around a specific service offering. For example, a community of practice might be themed around tax, engineering or marketing. These groups can be critical parts of an organizational structure and cut across locations and business divisions.

Communities of practice help employees share knowledge, develop expertise, share insights and support each other. A social intranet space with discussions, wikis, blogs and file libraries is often a critical facility for a community of practice and has a direct impact on better client service, driving innovation, maintaining standards and supporting professional development.

Communities of interest

A community of interest is slightly different to a community of practice in that it unites employees with a particular business interest, for example:

  • A practice such as competitor intelligence
  • Information about an industry sector
  • A key business theme like big data

Unlike a community of practice, a community of interest is unlikely to have an existing structure within the organization, so the social intranet can be the catalyst for a new community to form. A community of interest can lead to new opportunities and drive innovation as employees swap ideas and insights.

Employee resource groups

An employee resource group, sometimes called an employee affinity group, is a professional support community or network for different types of employees. Typical examples might include a women’s professional network, a military veterans’ group or an LGBTQ community.

These groups not only support the interests of employees but actively support diversity, get involved in community work and make a very positive contribution to organizational life. A space on the social intranet allows these groups to co-ordinate their activities and gives them visibility.

Non-work and social groups

Every organization has different groups based around non-work interests. These could include a running club, a book-reading group, a network of employees who swap recipes or even a community who swap pictures of cats!

Whatever the community, and however large or small, these groups might benefit from having a space on the social intranet. Perhaps there have been a number of different book-loving groups across several locations, and now they can come together in one space.

Some argue that social intranets should only be used for business purposes, but actually non-work groups support getting work done too. These groups get employees used to using a social intranet, drive personal networking and help them to relax, all of which contribute positively to the working environment.

Distribution and communications lists

Social intranets are used as a way for employees to subscribe to different communications and updates on different themes. Communities within social intranets provide an excellent opportunity to drive targeted communications as employees can join a group and then receive a news update through an aggregated news feed. For example, CEO communications could be organized as a community group.

Technical support communities

One area where social intranets have excelled is providing a space for technical support communities for different software. This is a space where users can ask questions about software that can then be answered not only by IT professionals but also by super-users or other knowledgeable employees.

This community-led approach can prove more efficient than a traditional IT helpdesk facility for answering queries. When questions concern the business use of a system rather than technical issues, super-users are better placed to answer these questions. Having a searchable archive of previous questions also means employees can search for answers themselves and learn from previous discussions.

Powering the network!

From a powerful group of tax professionals to the place where employees swap recipes, communities on your social intranet fuel networking and connections throughout your organization, providing a variety of benefits.

Your social intranet becomes the catalyst, focal point and channel for communities. Recognizing the different types of groups and their specific needs can help you to optimize different spaces for different purposes, identify opportunities for growth and keep teams happy.

Good luck on supporting and nurturing communities throughout your organization with your social intranet! Download our eBook to learn more about communities and a simpler way to communicate, engage, and collaborate.

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