The World is Fat

Social Intra-Networking- Don’t Just Whip it Up with Rachel Ray.

Tomato, Tomato, Fat, Flat – Let’s call the whole thing off.  From 50 million blogs in 2006 to 112 million according to Technorati last month- there are more than 175,000 new blogs created each day.  Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

As my regular readers may notice, I update my blog once a week and frankly, it takes me about 2 hours of time just to find something new and notable to write about. Thank goodness for my convo with Richard last week, who inspired me to write about Social Intra-Networking. After all, aren’t we sick of reading about the Baby Boomers retiring and how to resolve generational differences in the workplace?

Today, in the HR world, the buzz is all about building Online Communities- social intranets where employes can collaborate and knowledge-share.  But if you’re thinking about implementing one, learn before you leap.

Consider the recent study from Deloitte about Why Most Online Communities Fail.

After studying more than 100 businesses with online communities that attempt to connect customers with brand, the study found that  these sites failed to gain traction with customers. Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 6% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects.

Most corporate-sponsored online communities are virtual ghost towns because businesses are focusing on the value an online community can provide to themselves, not the community.

Businesses launching online communities repeat a series of blunders. First, they have a tendency to get seduced by bells and whistles and blow their online-community budget on technology. Moran suggests that businesses spend resources identifying and reaching out to potential community members instead of investing in software that makes predictions, or even social-networking technology.

Moran also recommends that businesses put someone who has experience running an online community in charge of the project. This doesn’t sound particularly earth-shattering, but consider that about 30% of the businesses Deloitte studied have only one part-time worker in charge of their communities. Most other businesses put a single marketing pro in charge of their sites.

The third problem with online communities is how businesses go about measuring the success of their communities. Businesses say that their primary objectives are generating word-of-mouth marketing and increasing customer loyalty. Yet the metric that businesses use most often to measure success is the number of visits to the site. Moran points out that there isn’t much of a connection between what businesses want and what they’re measuring.

So how does this apply to your pet project?

  1. Survey your employees- Find out what there needs are, what there vision is and frankly, whether or not they perceive this a good idea.
  2. Don’t do it as a part-time hobby- Hire an expert — or experts. People (I know a few) who make communications their profession. Who can implement strategies to make the site as sticky as you’d want it be.
  3. Connect with your Brand. Use every opportunity to build the culture, values and business strategy into your site. Keep people connected but make sure that they’re all marching to the same drumbeat.

After all, we’re all fat enough. Internal or otherwise, no one needs another site to swap Toll House Cookie recipes.

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