The Buzz About Online Networks & Talent Communities
“There’s a lot of buzz on Talent Communities in the HR world right now.” It seems like that’s something that’s heard at least a couple of times a day and it’s true, there IS a lot of buzz out there. Everybody wants to have a voice in the conversation because of it; and like the latest fashion, there’s a mad rush to have one of our very own. So, the building begins, the community is launched as people are invited. They sign up, the make an initial post & participate in a discussion or two and then?
Nothing. Where has all the ‘talent’ gone from the talent community?
In the mad rush to create the talent community; many businesses & HR/Recruitment professionals fail to invest the time to properly understand that success is not a given. Communities do fail; and according to Fortune, most do. There are four main pillars of success for any online community:
Without these four components planned prior to launch; there’s little chance the community will succeed. And if they do fail; it’s in front of those you were trying to strengthen a prospective employment relationship with. Not exactly inspiring for the ‘talent,’ is it?
The first pillar to Community success is to have commitment to dedicate the resources, time, and the appropriate personnel. The best community managers are natural ‘control freaks’ who have learned when to hold tight of all the things that need to be done; and when to ‘let go’ of controlling the conversation so the invited members can do what you invited them to: get connected.
Community architects & their organizations also have to be committed to the holding firmly to the truth that they don’t get to retain true ownership of the talent community… and they shouldn’t want to. In order for the community to blossom, they must ensure there are enough content to initially bond around; but ultimately allow the community members to drive discussions & ownership.
So how do you get comfortable enough to let go?
- Liken your community to a 24/7 party. When you’re hosting a social gathering, a lot of planning and preparation goes into making sure it’s a success. But while you plan the food that will be served, the games that will be played, and the entertainment that’s enjoyed… do you script the conversations everyone will have about them? No, of course not. Same with your community, you provide the initial content & continue to “refresh the plates” as needed; but then let the guests discuss and enjoy it as they will.
- Give it Away. Whenever I launch a community, I immediately seek out the help of 2 others that can serve as additional administrators & champions of the cause. They’re given administrative rights & the freedom to use them. The strategy is shared & once responsibilities are clearly understood; I back off and let them lead, taking more of a ‘strategist’ role. This allows the new administrators’ excitement to remain high & will increase the likelihood they’ll evangelize new members & drive discussions.
The next step is to make it abundantly clear that the community is there for your talent - and they don’t need your permission to post a new topic, or have their views moderated. No one likes approvals – it bottlenecks the conversation & is a major cause of community abandonment. If you can’t give the control away to your admins & members; you might as well prepare for the ghost town.
- Remember No One’s Perfect. Learn to be okay with making mistakes and remember that it’s not possible for everyone to like you – even Fairy Tale Heroes have detractors. Ensure your reaction to your detractors is calm, measured, and in keeping with your brand. Don’t delete the negative unless it’s offensive material; use it as an opportunity for your influencer members to rally around your brand.
For any community to succeed, you need to know what you want to get out of it… and then build it as though it’s not about you. Because the truth is that it’s not. If it’s about your motives, your agenda; your Community will fail. Success comes when you can merge your desired outcome with their perceived value. It is that which will drive participation.
Be careful about the technology & platform you pick to hold your community. Most people have problems with third party platforms; there is enough social congestion that they don’t have the desire to log in & track conversations on a separate platform. If you can effectively build your community on a platform they’re already interacting with you on? You’re ahead of the game & it greatly increases the odds for success.
By following these guidelines and checking out part 2 of this blog series, you’ll help keep the talent in your talent community interested in coming back for the long-haul.
Crystal Miller, known on Twitter as @theonecrystal is a builder of talent communities, addicted to Instagram, and avid social recruiter who also co-hosts a weekly radio show called Talent Net Live. Visit her blog, TheOneCrystal.com to learn more.