Why Don't People Like Me?

By Steve Radick posted 04-29-2010 21:38


"So I started this blog like you told me, but I haven't gotten any comments."  

"I moved our meeting agendas/minutes to the wiki, but no one seems to care." 

"Where's this 'mass collaboration' that you guys are always preaching?" 

These aren’t trivial questions – people take the time to create a blog post or add content to a wiki because of the promise of emergent collaboration. They hear stories about people getting entire white papers written by people they don’t even know because it was posted to an open wiki; they see blog posts with dozens of comments that lead to new initiatives; they read forum threads dozens of pages long with input from people across the organization and they want to realize those benefits too.

Against everything they’ve learned over the years, they post some content to some open and transparent platform with the hopes that people will flock to it, adding comments, having discussions, linking to additional resources, and interacting with their information. When that collaboration and interaction doesn’t happen, they quickly get turned off and will either A) assume they did something wrong and not go back; B) people don't like them; or C) believe that they’ve been sold a lot of snake oil and this social media stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

None of these conclusions bode well for the long-term health of a virtual community behind the firewall. So, what can you tell these folks when they ask me why no one is reading their forum posts, commenting on their blogs, or editing their wiki pages?

  • Write interesting content. You’d be surprised at some of the mind-numbingly boring stuff people want to blog about. Really, how many people are really going to be interested in your jargon and acronym-filled blog post about the latest developments in IT Service Management? Write something that more than the 20 people on your team will be interested in if you’re looking to get greater engagement.
  • Email is still king. Your Enterprise 2.0 platform probably isn’t a daily, in the workflow, destination for most of your employees. They might see the potential of it, and use it occasionally, but checking the latest blog posts and wiki changes isn’t exactly at the top of mind for most people yet. Post your blog entry, wiki content, forum thread, etc. and then send out an email with a link to it.
  • Cross-promote. Include the link to your content in your team newsletters, meeting agendas/minutes, email signatures, briefings, Yammer messages, and any other communications vehicles you use. Just because you’re the boss/team lead/project manager doesn’t mean people have automatically subscribed to everything you do and are waiting with bated breath for your next post.
  • The world doesn’t revolve around you. Don’t just post and then whine about people not commenting on your content. Ask yourself if you’ve gone out and commented on anyone else’s blogs. No? Then why are you surprised that no one is commenting on yours. Go find other posts and wiki pages related to your topic and engage there. Include links back to your content as “additional information you might find useful.”
  • Tell them what’s in it for them. Will I get an opportunity to influence future policy? Will this be the new location where all of our meeting agendas and minutes will be kept? Is creating my profile required for my performance assessment?  Don’t just tell me that it’s there and to click the link because that’s not enough. Entice me. Whet my appetite for what I’m going to get for my time.
  • Give people an action. Why are you there in the first place? Do you want to get people’s opinions on some new initiative? Do you want cross-team collaboration on a white paper? Are you asking your team if they have questions about the new reorganization? Be clear about what you want from your readers.
  • Find your virtual friends. No one wants to be the first person to respond – they want to see that other people have read it and commented on it too.  Find a trusted person on your team who's already active on the platform and ask them to take an active role in your content.  Ask them to comment and to ask others to do the same. Aren’t you more likely to read a blog post that has 20 comments than one that has none?

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