10 Dec Why Now Is The Time To Start An Online Community For Your Business
It’s a party! Celebrate employees and open up the doors for better two-way communication by establishing a private, online community for your business. Businesses big and small can benefit from this digital playground.
Have you been planning holiday parties for employees, or tentatively scheduling big events you hope to share in the new year? Where most companies have an internal emailing system to notify or otherwise ask the opinions of their employees, establishing a private community for employees can help keep everyone “in the know” without having to program or implement an extensive intranet forum to allow employees to ask questions, take tutorials, download employee handbooks, and participate in employee events.
By creating an online community, you’re moving away from announcing to and/or questioning employees via email and allowing for a better source of two-way communications. With a private community, employees can ask questions and answer each other’s questions, opening up the ability to share new and relevant information with each other that pertains to their line of work.
Still need convincing? Here are the top reasons why a private community can help boost your business.
“Hey! We’re working here!”
New employee policy! Company Holiday Party! Open enrollment! These are just some of the subject lines floating around employee inboxes during this time of year. While employees know each email is important and requires some level of response, very few employees can jump to the task at hand without having to attend to the job they were hired to do. We’ve all done it. You. Yes you. We’ve all flagged an email to tend to later only to realize the following Monday that we never did RSVP to the team potluck, automatically making you that person to show up with yet another bag of chips.
Simply put, emails get overlooked. With a community, you can create a space where employees can check in regularly to see what’s happening and be reminded of that out-of-sight, out-of-mind email.
The suggestion box has been around…. well, let’s just say it has probably been around forever! But communication doesn’t have to be just between one person speaking on behalf of the company and the employees doing the questioning. Open up communication to more of a discussion. Many online communities, like Google+ Communities, allow you to create several different discussion groups to organize discussions by topic. Open up the discussion between employees with a Q&A section – allowing employees to openly ask questions about their department or another department that may be unfamiliar to them, and allow other employees to answer! Likewise, this is a great way for employees to share best practices and topics relevant to your business.
Get an accurate count to your company holiday party and never have 5 too many bags of Doritos at a potluck again (hypothetically speaking because who really can ever have too many bags of Doritos?)! Post events in your online community, and perhaps more importantly, allow your employees to respond to the event invite by sharing their own event photos! Your team will love seeing photos shared by other team members, and event photos can be a great resource for sharing that company culture across your social media channels!
No, I don’t mean announce your recent engagement to the entire company. Instead, by creating a private community within Facebook or Google+, you’re encouraging your employees to get social. These communities give easy access to company social media pages, encouraging your employees to share and comment on information. But here’s another fun fact to consider – did you know that even in Google+ communities that are set to private invitation only, each comment, +1, and view within the community goes toward your overall Google+ Analytics. Just like engagement within your brand page or local listing, each source of engagement counts toward your social media points that Google considers as part of your search engine ranking.
Creating a community that allows employees to gather and share information is a great way to boost company morale! Within a community, everyone is equal. Executives should take the chance to speak with and respond to their employees questions and interests, and employees from various departments can engage in sharing information that can propel the company forward or brag about their Employee of the Month award with a shared selfie.
With the holidays among us and the start of a new year just around the corner, implementing an online community now can get you started off on the right foot for 2015 going forward.
To start your own online community with Google+, sign in to your company page on Google+. Then, in the upper left hand corner where you see the “Home” icon, click for the full menu drop down. Here you can click on the Communities option. From there, you’ll see a blue “Create Community” button in the right corner.
Have a question about online community? Ask us in the comments below!