Does your corporate social site inadvertently lock out compelling contributors?

To me, the primary objective of any company blog site should be to tear down all communication roadblocks (firewalls, difficult tools, overly rigid policy, etc.) that stand between employees & the world to enable free flowing human to human conversation. The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has done that with their blog site.

The content, in multiple formats (video, blog posts, etc.), as told through compelling stories by their employees is heartfelt — like this (they need a video embed feature).

Though the underlying recruiting objective of the site is obvious, the site’s design & functionality is super comprehensive & efficient to use — which is paramount considering the focus of the employees/medical practitioners is likely not blogging, editing HTML, etc.

When decision makers choose a new media platform for their employees, the employees’ skill set, work style & time available for blogging, is often not considered because the platform decision makers (usually in IT) are primarily focused on the technology — which can be just as important as considering the users capabilities to successfully utilize the tool. The level of effort involved with supporting less tech savvy, or time available individuals (CXOs, practitioners — as in doctors & nurses in this example, etc.) should not be under-estimated. Trust me on this one.

If the tool is too cumbersome & time-consuming to use (especially by the employees with the most compelling stories to tell), then what’s the point? And believe me, you want their contributions.

  1. #1 by Max on October 28, 2009 - 1:36 am

    Internal blog? Weren’t wikis supposed to be the answer to all of these problems?

    In my mind the real issue (whether internal or external) is that people are scared because they don’t know what the reaction to “real” feedback, commentary or general contributions will be. And oftentimes for good reason. I once ran an anonymous internal survey for employees at one firm, and the feedback was on the bitter side and the employer asked me to identify the employees who left that feedback. Which I declined to do regardless of the fact it wasn’t possible after the fact.

    At any rate, this could be just my experience, but I think having a well-understood policy (and standing behind it) on what sort of contributions are actually encouraged can be just as important as “how easy it is to do”.

    On a shared note, all the efforts in the world to reach out can be done but the difference to me on the Sun forums was that with your arrival the stated policies actually have been followed through on. Which makes a world of difference. At least to me.

  2. #2 by lskrocki on November 3, 2009 - 3:19 pm

    Max, a hearty +1 on a well-understood policy. That’s the primary objective of Sun’s Guidelines on Public Discourse. Unlike the terms covered in employment terms, even tho’ the guidelines provide some overlap, it’s a very precise comprehensive document written in a conversational tone. It basically says, “we want you to use these tools freely, but here’s how to keep Sun & yourself out of trouble.” I think it’s a masterpiece & love that other companies have used it as a template:

    Thanks so much for the thoughts on Sun Forums. To be honest, I was the student who had much to gain from the insights of you and the rest of the community. Managing the site has been one of my most valuable experiences at Sun.

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