I often say that BraveNewTalent is the most experienced company on what not to do in online community building. We've learned a huge amount through trial and error. I would like to share some of the lessons learned in this blog.
1. Focus on value
Communities form around shared interest and passion - NOT job opportunities. The rule of thumb we give is you should aim for 80% of what you share in your community to be valuable learning content rather than employment related content. When communities are built around value, they grow. Recruiters often still rely on "spray and praying" jobs which is the best way to kill the chances of a community.
2. Focus on learning
BraveNewTalent has found that the best form of content to share with professional audiences is learning or professional development content. This is what generates the value and reason to keep coming back.
3. Leverage your internal subject matter experts
Everyday the employees within your organization are creating and curating content that relates to what they do. Most organizations have not yet leveraged this content to build and engage communities. This is low hanging fruit. It also gives you a great way to recognize your own internal talent as mentors or experts.
4. Leverage your databases and 'Talent Networks' to grow your community
Most organizations are sitting on ATS databases with hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. You can now breathe life into those databases by inviting the people into your community. We see over a 10% average conversion rate for invitations sent through BraveNewTalent.
5. Think about moving your audience from consumers of content to participants
Since the beginning of the Digital age most organizations have not moved beyond broadcasting to their audiences. In the past it has been difficult to truly engage. This has now changed. You can and should invite your community members to be participants around your content.
6. Context is King
People used to say Content is King. No longer. We are inundated with content. What is important today is contextual relevance. Try to segment your community members around their professional interests, locations, and experience and share content around those segments. We find communities always need the three magic C's: Content, Context and Connections.
7. Facilitate cross community engagement
Speaking of connections - we find communities mature when the members start to provide the majority of the contributions. This is when your community reaches critical mass and your members are doing the heavy lifting. A big part of the value for them is forming connections and learning experiences with other community members. They will love you for being a catalyst in making this happen.
8. Take learning content out of the email inbox
Too many organizations still fall back on email for sharing learning and news. This is highly inefficient. The inbox should be your action list not your learning list. Use email to draw people back into your community where they can then learn and gain recognition.
9. Recognize and reward
When organizations highlight their best contributions from their members they encourage similar behavior. You can recognize your community by engaging with their contributions but also highlighting and sharing the best contributions. In time you will also be able to award badges to you best community contributors.
10. Be Authentic
So often its easier for organizations to use pre-approved 'marketing' content. This often lacks authenticity. Communities form around people so be real and participate both as your organisation and yourself.
Should you apply this best practice I believe you can create a highly engaged Talent Community that would be able to provide phenomenal long term value to your organization - from recruiting efficiency, quality of hire improvements, retention improvements, internal workforce recognition and engagement, a better candidate experience, a stronger Talent brand and so much more.
The world has moved from Capitalism to Talentism where creative human capital sets your company apart. Your community can be a key part in helping you get ahead.