“One of the main reasons for members to join the community is the opportunity to exchange key business intelligence and information with others who work in the same sector or functional area, with similar responsibilities in similar organisations.” – Baptie and Company
Last week, we discussed the benefits and challenges of public social networks. This week, we’ll dive into the things to consider when deciding to set up a private social network.
Private social networks are websites created by companies that allow groups of people to privately communicate and leverage each others knowledge and experience.
Whereas, public social networks create demand and drive awareness, private social networks grow relationships and deliver value by giving members the ability to talk, connect and share resources in a private online environment (ASI whitepaper).
There are a number of compelling benefits to adding a private social network to your social media strategy:
- Privacy: a trusted, safe, and moderated environment in which your users can communicate and collaborate
- Brand recognition: wherein you can build trust and strengthen company culture
- Control over content, features, design, and roll-out
- Data ownership
- Integration with a membership database: iMIS, Salesforce, Excel, etc.
- Integrated knowledge management: one place to keep a record of conversations, decisions, files, etc.
- Increased ingenuity and cohesiveness
- The ability for all users to give direct feedback, which sends a message that their opinions are welcome and valued
- Better direct marketing opportunities; another “touch-point” besides direct mail
“… organizations using blogs, wikis and social networking tools achieved an average year-over-year improvement in employee engagement of 18%, compared with 1% for organizations that do not use social networking tools.” – Thoughtfarmer
As compelling as the benefits are, there are challenges to consider as well:
- There is usually a fee
- Time is needed for setup and planning
- There is a need for organizational oversight (security and monitoring)
- User adoption
- Technical challenges
“You have to make it part of the work as opposed to a separate thing people do… If it’s not integrated and is an additional task, it becomes a burden and hurts productivity.” – Computerworld.com
Most businesses and organizations will want to employ a social media strategy that involves both public and private social networks. In the next couple of weeks, we will discuss the design process in more detail.
Does your organization have a story to share? Is there something you tried and it worked really well (or didn’t)? Is there something that worked (or didn’t) in an unexpected way? Is there anything you think every community manager should know?