I love the improvisational aspect of social learning. I prefer to try stuff out on the fly; see how it feels, how it reacts, how people react to it and adjust on the go. I like the cliche “build the plane as it’s flying” for this type of development process. It portrays the urgency, the speed and the thrill of working this way.
But when you’re dealing with a small team and trying to push a very new concept into an organization, you must have some structure around the chaos or you can’t replicate what you’re doing. This is really critical if you are successful; you’d like to be able to repeat success even if it comes from dumb luck.
I outlined the Playbook in last week’s post so let’s look more closely at its components.
For starters, the whole process is based on Performance Consulting concepts and this road map guided us and kept us centered on the internal client as well as making sure we adhered to our social learning strategy. The Playbook has five pieces:
- SET GOALS – Why are you building this community? Are you trying to network people? Are you solving problems or a combination of the two. Is this the social part of a program? Do expect the group to share best practices. Knowing the answers to these questions will help guide you through the other pieces of the playbook. This first question is Performance Consulting 101. Don’t jump right in with solutions, listen to what your client wants and needs and help them crystalize their goals, then you can start solving.
- PLANS – Talk about the content that may exist and do an Information Architecture analysis. This will help you organize the community. Our communities are a combination of social, dynamic and static content, so structure is important. This is especially true if the community is supporting a program. Determine your governance and select stewards. Develop marketing, communication and change plans. We provide launch communication examples and leverage our internal best practices for change and communication processes.
- FUNCTIONALITY – Based on the goal of the community, you will need to leverage many basic social and collaborative techniques such as live chats, wikis, blogs, microblogs, libraries, calendars, etc. You may even develop some new techniques, like this one we did that converted an instructor led activity into a social and digital function. This is where creativity and your social media acumen moved front and center.
- TRAIN STEWARDS – Review what it means to be a steward: setting up blog schedules, populating the calendar, finding community members to create content. What’s most important inside a corporation is you need to seed the community. In the “real world” content and sharing are more organic. A steward must work a bit harder in a corporate environment to foster sharing and to find experts to lend their expertise. Find advocates within your community and get them to post, get them to help. This will keep the steward from being the only voice and make gawkers more comfortable with sharing.
- MEASURE – Obviously you have page views and hits, but much like other learning activities, social learning is tough to measure. Use anecdotes and accolades to tell your success stories. Use polls from the community as part of your measurement story to stakeholders. We also like to use Net Promoter Scores (NPS) so you can see how your community feels about itself. Combing NPS with polls can help you chart a direction for content and functionality as the community evolves.
Each time you use the Playbook, a little bit more of the plane has been built, but the thrill of the wind blowing in your face is still there.