Mar 30, 2010

The Seven Types of Social Roles in Employee Communities



An employee community is a closed community within the firewall of the Organization 2.0 - where employees connect and build content along with each other to build relationships and knowledge.

At 2020 Social, we use a simple Engagement Architecture framework for designing social platforms, including online communities. One of the key parts of the framework is the 7 types of social roles are lurker, learner, connector, moderator, organizer, teacher, super-user.

Let's try and put together an understanding on what these roles can be in employee communities:

  1. The Lurker is a new employee or a late adopter who arrives at the employee community as someone who has heard good things about it - but is uncertain about what to do. Lurkers may be held back due to either being intensely private people or being technophobes. A lurker needs to be coached by the community manager and exposed to content that evokes a response from him.
  2. A Learner is a person on the community who is interested - but often finds it over-whelming to navigate the conversatoins or to jump into conversations. Learners need to be directed to "how to start" documents and supported when they start making small but significant contributions.
  3. The Connector is a person on the community who is a curator of information either through bookmarking or off-line knowledge gathering. They add great value to networks by answering individual's questions with responses like "here's where you can find this information..." or "here's Vivek who has done stuff like this earlier, maybe you should ask him..." The connector uses people and document tags actively to curate content and point others to it.
  4. The Moderator is usually a role given to the most passionate people in the community, and their roles can encompass guiding a new user to jump into discussions when they are getting into ad-hominem attacks to discontinuing or archiving inactive sections of the community. The moderator can have some subtle recognition systems in their control to make people into role models - to trigger more desired behaviors.
  5. The Organizer is a critical role in the employee community - triggering occasions - both online as well as offline for the community members to connect with each other and discover common shared interests, lifestyles and passions.
  6. The Teacher is the fulcrum of the community - the person who creates content and engages with the users/curators and commentators to create better content. Typically they are unafraid of putting their thoughts out in to open and having the community connect and comment around it. They're mostly looking for the content to be improved by the community and create more.
  7. The Super-User is someone who plays multiple roles in the community - and is typically mostly a Connector, Moderator, Organizer and Teacher who takes on the other roles.

If you're interested in building employee communities - do you have people internally who would be natural fits and assume these roles? As we say, buying a software license for making basic to complicated employee communities using tools like SocialText, Yammer, SocialCast, Salesforce, Lotus Connections et al is the easy part - but being the lone warrior for "corporate social networking" is the surest way to failure

Cross Posted at the 2020 Social Blog