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Does Size Matter… in your Knowledge Sharing Community

October 6, 2016
Written by Bloomfire Admin

Alright, we’ve all been wondering, and now it’s time to solve this mystery once and for all. Does size actually matter in your knowledge sharing community? We’re about to find out.

First things first, let’s define size in the context of  knowledge management software (get your mind out of the gutter). Size refers to both the number of users and the volume of content that exists within a system, and the answer to our question is a little different for each of these contexts. Let’s begin with users.

Whether you’re a company of 25 or 25 thousand employees, the content you produce is important. Your organization can and should benefit from a knowledge sharing solution that gives all of your employees, partners, and stakeholders immediate access to the information they need to do their jobs.

That being said, the number of users in your knowledge sharing community does have an effect on how you should use your community.

Defining roles within the community.

There are both benefits and obstacles inherent in a  knowledge sharing community with a small number of users (25 or less). While less users may mean less content, one benefit is that it’s very easy to define roles within the community to avoid confusion. When it comes to knowledge management, clarity is key, and communication about each team member’s individual responsibility is crucial.

Unlike smaller organizations, communities with a large number of users may have some difficulty when it comes to defining roles; who has the authority to answer questions? Who should manage the community? Who should edit and approve the posts? With thousands, or even hundreds of users, these roles can quickly become muddy.

The solution is to find a knowledge management system with an extensive member permissions hierarchy.

Member permissions dictate how users engage with the knowledge management software on a daily basis, so how you assign roles within your community depends entirely on how your want your community to function and how you want users to interact with content. Here’s a quick review of the roles that should exist in your community:

  • Account owners. Account owners administer communities, manage integrations, customize the community, and manage billing information.
  • Community admins. Admins moderate contributions, manage members, track user engagement, and create and manage categories within the system.
  • Authors. Authors contribute content and ask questions.
  • Learners. Learners view, discover, and search for content, ask questions, and leave comments.

As you work on defining roles within your large community, be careful not to restrict the bottom of the hierarchy. Authors and learners may not have as much control as owners and admins, but they play a major role in the long-term success of your knowledge management system and are likely the reason you invested in a KMS in the first place.

It makes sense for owners and admins to approve the posts that are shared in your community, and this will help keep a large group of users organized and focused on what’s relevant. But be sure to strike a healthy balance; approving every single piece of content before it’s posted may negatively impact time and productivity savings. Some good ole’ fashioned trial and error will help you learn what’s right for your organization.

Now we’ve discussed a side effect of size in terms of users, but does size matter when in regards to volume of content?

Content curation in knowledge sharing communities.

Big or small, content curation is everything. Regardless of size, your knowledge sharing community will inevitably include out-of-date or irrelevant posts that need to be cleaned up. We recommend the following solutions:

Recruit your whole team for a day of spring cleaning. This solution works particularly well for smaller companies who do not have a build up of (literally) millions of posts to comb through. Dedicate one day, two hours a day for 3 days, or whatever configuration works for you, to buckle down and sort through all the content in your community.

Divide the posts among your team members. As each member combs through their section, they should mark each post as either:

  • Green: Relevant and up-to-date (no change necessary)
  • Yellow: Relevant, but needs editing
  • Red: No longer relevant (should be deleted or archived)

You will be amazed by the progress your team can accomplish in a short period of time, and by how much more efficient and organized community will be in terms of time and productivity savings.

Larger organizations should certainly take advantage of this strategy, but with thousands or millions of posts, you might find it quite time-intensive. In addition to this strategy, there are ways to set up your community for content curation success (these methods will benefit organizations of all sizes):

Find the right knowledge sharing solution. A knowledge sharing solution that sets you up for success will include a number of features to keep posts relevant from the very start. Those features include subgroups within larger communities, categories for content, and tags to index content and make it searchable.

Create posting guidelines. You trust your employees and value your input, but every now and then, they post a few too many cat videos. Community owners and admins should explicitly state what types of content are appropriate and helpful to your community in a post that can be referred to again and again.

Schedule regular content reviews. Remember when you were a child (or last week) when your room was just so messy, you avoided cleaning it, so the problem only grew worse? The same applies to content curation. Depending on how much content your community produces, regularly scanning posts for relevancy will save a lot of time in the long run.

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the verdict is in. There’s hope for the little guy! Success is not about the size of your knowledge sharing community, it’s about how you use it. Based on the size of your organization, determine which of these strategies are right for you, and your community will remain a wealth of accessible, useful company knowledge, regardless of size.

 

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