Easy Answers: Social Groups
Many clients include Spaces in their digital workplaces for people to gather and share common interests. Beer tastings, science fiction, movie recommendations, pictures of their dogs, you name it. So many pictures of dogs. Social groups invite people across teams, offices, and departments to get to know each other and build relationships. Clients that use them often find that they're an excellent way to build a vibrant company culture.
Creating social groups isn't without overhead, however. It's a good idea to have a member who oversees the area, and has access to create new ones and remove ones that have fallen out of use, and each social group Space will need a few champions to get it started, and ensure that discussions are both active and appropriate. In today's Easy Answers, we'll walk through how to set up social groups that are easy to use and straightforward to duplicate, as well as how to manage access and ownership in those areas.
For each social group Space, we recommend definitely including a Microblog Channel for quick sharing and a Folder Channel for photo galleries. A Blog Channel can be useful for announcements, and if your social group intends to have meetups, a Calendar Channel is invaluable. One of the advantages of using Spaces for these groups, over a network of Pages, is that each group's administrators can manage and craft the group as they like using the Space Administration Panel, ensuring that they always have what they need, but without increasing the workload of your Workplace Administrators.
For example, a social group devoted to members' dogs could rely on a main page Microblog for quick and easy sharing of glorious dog pictures, but could also let people upload them to a Folder Channel to create a gallery or slideshow. A Calendar might inform them of dog-related meetups, but also of upcoming events in the local community. They may use a Blog Channel for sharing longer posts about life events, adoptions, or hilarious dog tales.
Accommodating social groups into your current digital workplace architecture is as easy as providing a Page for them to live under. Use Access to shape the flow of content on that Page, giving people a front page for all of the social groups they're a part of. A Blog or Calendar widget can be helpful to aggregate posts, and a Spaces widget on the left to display all of the available social groups can be balanced with a My Spaces widget on the right to show all the social groups someone is a member of, making navigation simple.
The most important element of your social group architecture is the template. Create a Space to be used as a model, including Channel configuration, widgets, and access, and build all additional social group Spaces off of that. Ensure that the Join option in the Manage Members area of the template Space is enabled, so members can opt in to different groups. With the right template, creating new social groups can be as easy as a few clicks.
The most important thing that gets copied over from the template is access. The model for social groups can seem a little strange. You want members to have access to them in order to see, search for, and join them, but you don't want members' searches and widgets to be cluttered with posts from social groups they haven't joined. You can accomplish this by creating a rule that gives all members Read Access on the main Space for a social group, but when creating the rule, uncheck the cascading option, the box labeled "Apply to everything under this Space". That will ensure that everyone can access the front page, see what the social group is about, and join, but won't see the content until they do.
What will they see? It's worth having a welcome post and a description on the front of the social group, to let people know what it's about. An introduction Forum can also be great for the front page. Space Administrators there can provide access to things as needed, and can structure that welcome as they like.
The obvious effect of social groups is building company culture, helping people cultivate crossteam connections and find more fulfilling relationships with their coworkers and their workplace. There's a side benefit to using Spaces as social groups in your digital workplace however, which is that it can build people's confidence and skill with the platform by providing them a different avenue for learning. Setting up and managing social groups is a form of low stakes play, letting people experiment and be creative with content, structure, and access. Let your members try things out, and they'll surprise you.
If you have other questions about social groups, best practices, or the names of these wonderful dogs of Igloo, you can leave a comment here, or ask a question in the Community area.