Consultancy company Gartner have been investigating how we collaborate online ahead of their Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2012 next month in London. They’ve come up with the following six principles that they believe are fundamental if we are to get people collaborating effectively on social media.
- Encourage participation – They start off with a simple concept, but nevertheless one that many get wrong when using social media. Simply stated that social media should be designed to encourage user participation. It shouldn’t be designed as another broadcast medium.
- Create a purpose – Here they underline the importance of a shared purpose for the community. It’s an issue I’ve spoken about until I’m blue in the face, so it’s nice to see Gartner picking up on it as well. Without that shared purpose it’s hard to measure effectiveness from your perspective, and it provides little to bind users together.
- Be Transparent – Social media is very much a meritocracy where our individual contributions are open and visible to all. This transparency is key to the success of collaboration efforts because it allows the community to build upon the efforts of each other. Gartner recommends empowering the community with a robust capability to view, use and provide feedback on the contributions of others: with functionality such as thumbs up and thumbs down, tagging, voting, star ratings, and social commentary.
- Promote Individuality – A central tenet of the Wisdom of Crowds was that each individual had to act independently of the others. In other words groupthink was not conducive to wisdom. Gartner concur with this believe your community should be designed to make it as easy as possible for people to collaborate quickly and effectively without requiring permission from you.
- Persistence – Ok, here they’re talking about the perminence of what is posted on social media. They compare it with telephone conversations where recollections over what was said may differ between parties to the conversation. On social media however contributions are there for all to see and should remain thus indefinately so that information can be retrieved quickly and easily.
- Self-evolving – Emergence is another pet topic of mine, so again it’s nice to see Gartner talking here about the emergent properties of social communities. As befitting emergent principles they believe the direction of the community cannot be dictated to by the owners, with it instead being driven by the will of the participants. As such focus should be directed to the outcomes you want to achieve from the community rather than the methods used to achieve them.
Overall I think this is a good crack at understanding how collaboration can happen via social media. They’ve turned their thoughts into a pictoral model, which I’ve included below for you. Let me know your thoughts on it via the comments section.