After years of working in internal comms (IC), rolling out employee engagement platforms for a wide range of organisations, the ‘Seven Pillars of Digital Success’ model is something that I’ve spoken about a lot with our clients.
It’s a tried and tested platform-agnostic model I’ve built over the years which helps IC folks navigate the often complex process of either establishing a new platform for employees, or taking an incumbent one and really making it sing.
Let's explore those seven pillars of success.
First and foremost, you need a very clear idea of what you want your platform to achieve, closely aligned to your business strategy. It’s really as simple as that; but having this ambition for the platform explicitly laid out is the absolute foundation for digital success.
For example, if growth is the big business ambition, your digital community has to support that. From recruiting new talent and protecting culture as you grow to informing your people about new offices, products or services, there's so much your digital platform should be doing that ties in directly to this vision.
It also gives you a benchmark on which to measure your success. How do you know if your online community is thriving if you don’t know what good looks like?
Observing the behavioural outcomes of the online community and how they link directly to your business goals and objectives is a surefire way to know if your community is supporting your business, and where you might need to tweak your approach.
Governance is about safety. It’s not the sexiest pillar, but making sure you have rules, guidelines and positive behaviours demonstrated in your community will help employees feel safe to contribute to the platform, not feel judged, and understand what is (and isn’t) ok to share.
These governance conversations need to be held at a high level first. Is it ok for folks to swear on the platform? Is a ‘Pets Corner’ group ok? Does an innocent birthday post conflict with our guidelines on personal data? Once you’ve established that, then it’s important to understand how you communicate these permissions to your employees in an empowering ‘it’s ok to’ way.
It’s also about ensuring your managers and leaders are encouraging and supporting these behaviours, which brings me onto ...
Those leading the business need to be present and vocal about the opportunities of your new channel, and drive change from the top.
If you want to see your people posting, contributing, discussing and being a part of an online community, you have to have leaders doing exactly that. Not only to communicate that ‘it’s ok to’, but also to demonstrate that the new platform is an established community with support across the business.
Who in your organisation can you rely on to set that example?
For this pillar, you’d unite an army of supporters in the business who will champion the benefits of your new platform across different departments and regions. Your advocates offer localised support with a familiar face; for people to ask questions, take their first steps and drive the behaviours that you want to see.
You can’t be everywhere at once, especially in a large, global organisation. Having advocates around the business who can be your eyes and ears on the ground, feeding back opinion and insights, sharing education resources, and nudging leaders, is a huge help and a great way to generate momentum for the project.
An online community is nothing without great content.
Relevant, timely, useful and insightful business insights need to be regularly generated for the community. And depending on the kind of platform, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for great user generated questions and insights shared by your community, too.
Depending on the type of platform you’re rolling out, this will also open up the amazing opportunity to create diverse types of content. We're talking videos and polls, photo albums, podcasts, live Q&A sessions and live Town Hall videos.
The opportunity to engage with your employee audience in new, multi-directional ways can be transformative for your internal comms, but it requires special attention.
This pillar highlights the resources you’ll need to make sure your people have a decent overview and understanding of ‘why’ the platform exists.
The vision helps with that, of course. But it's important to articulate ‘what’s in it for me’ to your teams and employees, too. You need to help them answer the question “how can I benefit from being a part of this community?”
This pillar also supports digital capability, ensuring there are guides, tips and overviews that allow people to understand functionality and how they can make the most of their time on the platform; when to use a poll, how to contribute to a live town hall or how to access the platform from their personal device.
The final pillar, launch brings together your vision and all the work you’ve done under each of the subsequent pillars.
The launch tells people the why and the how of the community, and informs your people about governance and rules; spotlighting leadership support, demonstrating fantastic content, introducing your advocates and highlighting the resources people might need to get familiar with their brand new online community.
These 7 pillars have already helped many internal communications teams navigate the complex and often overwhelming journey of introducing new digital employee platform.
With these pillars in place, you have the essential foundations to make your platform a success. And we’ve used this model to support and advise many of our clients to launch and embed platforms such as Teams, Workplace, Yammer, Poppulo Mobile, and many more.
If you’d like to chat with me about how the 7 pillars approach can support you, or you’d like me to share some case studies with you, do get in touch.