Community Design: More than just community management

|   Oct 31, 2012

Today we begin a series on the topic of Community Design, which is a critical discipline for companies implementing an enterprise social network. We’ve always asserted that companies should create a meaningful plan before rolling out a community to employees. However, the notion of Community Design is more evolved and robust, respecting the fact that a successful social network requires the input and work from myriad teams, departments and even systems at a company.

So, what is Community Design? Community Design is the practice of planning the cultural and technical components of an enterprise social network prior to launch and via ongoing optimization efforts as the community matures. It is a holistic approach that ensures the alignment of community access, appropriate content, meaningful education, employee expectations and existing technology integrations, respecting the notion that social networking in the workplace is only one piece of the corporate communications ecosystem. Community Design is, in essence, a discipline of constant planning, shaping, and pivoting for the ever-shifting role of the community; it is a crucial practice that may mean the difference between a vibrant, valuable community and a stagnant, stale one. More than just community management, which is the important role of fostering the active use of an enterprise social network, Community Design takes a macro approach to the role of the community in the context of an existing cultural, technological and communication landscape. Through proper and thoughtful planning, those engaging in Community Design have the ability to structure the rollout and ongoing use of a social network to achieve important business goals and positively impact a company’s success metrics.

In the coming weeks, I’ll address a variety of themes in community design. The first series will focus on “lurkers” and how to account for them when designing a community. Specific topics will include:

  • “Participation Inequality” is a numbers game
  • Community Roles: The types of members in your social network
  • Inside their Minds: Why Lurkers lurk
  • Creating “Networks of Practice” to encourage participation
  • When Lurking is valuable: How invisible work gets done
  • The Role of Social Capital: Converting lurkers to posters

Do you have thoughts or ideas about Community Design? Connect with me on Twitter at @carrieyoung or on our Socialcast Facebook Page.

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Socialcast by VMware (NYSE: VMW) is a social network for business uniting people, information, and applications with its real-time enterprise activity stream engine. Behind the firewall or in the cloud, Socialcast enables instant collaboration in a secure environment. Socialcast is headquartered in San Francisco, California.