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Internal company forum

How do you overcome the apathy

2:01 pm on Jun 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My wife is changing jobs next week and has just been given a list of her responsibilities. One of these is rejuvenating the internal company forum. We believe this to be a very open brief. Now I've worked at a few companies where just getting people to read regular company information on the intranet involved effectively making it mandatory. How do you get people to take part, at a sensible business level, in an internal forum.

The company runs internal classified ads in a *six-weekly*(!) magazine and there's an obvious argument to moving them to the forum. (But how to get these users to contribute to the more business orientated sections)

Leading figures in the company also pronounce on where they see the company heading on noticeboarded flyers that could be duplicated on the forums to widen the conversation a little.

What else can be done to generate serious, business relevant, intranet forum participation.

3:45 am on June 28, 2009 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Building any forum is a challenge, and a company one is a unique challenge. In no particular order, here are a few thoughts:

1) Get at least one or two senior managers to participate. This will be a big encouragement for others to spend a little time there.

2) The forum moderator or admin needs to "fan the flames" of conversation. If someone posts a question, your wife should ensure it gets answered, even if it means phoning up someone else in the company and asking them to reply.

3) Some kind of off-topic or social forum is probably a good way to engage some users. If they know there's a discussion about, say, what games to play at the company picnic, they may check back more often.

4) As in any community building role, your wife can start some topics designed to provoke discussion. A news story in the WSJ, a complaint letter from a customer, etc. can be good thread starters.

On the plus side, she doesn't have to worry about SEO, generating outside traffic, spam prevention, etc. And, in this setting, I'd expect everyone to behave well.

Good luck to her, Status_203, and encourage her to become a member here to share her experiences!

12:49 pm on June 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply rogerd. I particularly like point 2 - "Gotta catch 'em all - one at a time".

Point 4 is interesting as well as my wife may not know about interactions with those outside the company that could be discussed more widely on the forums. There may need to be an element of educating those at management level and above over when posting something on the forum could be useful to all concerned. (She'll be reporting to a high enough level that that shouldn't be a problem :) ).

Not entirely sure about the behaviour aspect. I've previously seen a "discussion" on an internal forum concerning PS vs XBOX that got to the point that managers had to insist certain "contributers" apologised. While this is a company it treads on charitable/non-profit territory and I'd expect some of those who *will* contribute to have some passionately held beliefs. So there will probably be an element of ensuring that debate happens respectfully and productively.

1:55 pm on June 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Have you considered a blog format where managers or employees could post information, which might be approved by the webmaster before appearing on the intranet. A blog format would allow others to post comments, debate etc.

The site wouldn't then rely on people posting comments and it could be used to pass news and information. Forums have always come across as having more of a question and answer format which in a company might often be more productively addressed by person to person interaction.