Here is my definition of Employee Generated Content, as well as brief explanation of how it differs from user generated content (UGC) and social content (social media).
What is it?
Employee Generated Content (EGC) is a variant of User Generated Content (UGC). Both refer to material produced by the users (or employees) of a website (or intranet), but the main defining difference is that EGC is created, published and accessible within the walls of the company. It is intranet content that stays within the corporate firewall.
Formal content and EGC
Types of intranet content can be largely divided into two main groups: Formal content and employee generated content.
Formal content is the controlled, corporate content, that is produced and published by following an established process. It’s what we know of as “the traditional intranet”. It can be trusted, it’s authoritative, and (should be) fully up to date.
Employee Generated Content is intranet content that is created, edited and published directly by the employee themselves. There will be guidelines, and other governance mechanisms, but the process is self-contained. It’s a one-man band.
EGC is not (necessarily) professionally produced or edited. It may not be authoritative , and could represent personal thoughts and opinions. The trustworthiness of EGC is based on the reputation of the content creator within the organisation rather than where the content is published.
Social (intranet) content is a sub-set of employee generated content, but not the other way round. Not all EGC is social. For example, an intranet blog post on your (personal) intranet blog is EGC, but the comments colleagues write in response to your post are both employee generated and social.
Creative accounting – Guardian article giving a number of concrete examples of employee generated content within major organisations.
Communities of Practice: Optimizing Internal Knowledge Sharing – Detailed UX Matters article about intranet collaboration.
The concept of choosing to follow someone is very familiar to those of us active on twitter. As is the concept of not following someone.
In small organisations, my experience has shown that normally everyone would follow everyone. This is largely because small organisations are likely to be cohesive as a team, especially at the smaller end of the scale.
In large organisations (over 250 employees), my experience has shown that it is accepted and understood that you don’t follow everyone. Why would you? Following 20,000 people would ruin your micro-blogging experience (or at the very least force you into needing some kind of Tweetdeck-like application to filter and sort it all!)
In medium sized organisations (50-250 employees), I’d generally expect employees to follow everyone in their team, or department, and then a sprinkling of other colleagues from a range of other teams and functions – plus senior management.
We all know (or should know) that the move to a social intranet involves a cultural shift in how an organisation works. A social intranet is not achieved by the availability of a particular tool. The cultural changes required will be unique from organisation to organisation, and some will be more ready than others to adopt the way or working that a social intranet enables.
One particular aspect of that cultural shift I hadn’t considered is that of exclusion. Deliberately avoiding certain collegues on your social intranet. Groups of employees deliberately freezing out other employees by not following them.
Now it’s easy to initially react in the classic control manner. Let’s ban Facebook! Let’s ban Yammer! That, I’m afraid to say, is not a solution. The problem isn’t Yammer and it’s ability to let you choose who you follow and unfollow. The problem is that a culture of exclusion and bullying behaviour exists within the organisation.
Address the issue, not ban the tool
Your focus needs to be on how to address that issue internally, not how to “fix” Yammer (or whichever tool your organisation uses). A “solution” such as forcing everyone to follow everyone else is impractical and not really a solution. It will drive down adoption, reduce the business gain from microblogging, and almost certainly force the bullying that exist in your organisation into another forum.
Microblogging needs to be open (a “company wide” feed, available to all) to make people feel included (even if they aren’t active within the microblogging tool). It also needs to be searchable (to allow employees to utilise the digital assets stored in the status updates and shared links). It doesn’t need to be forced (follow everyone) or banned (driving the conversation elsewhere).
What problems have you encountered with rolling out social features on your intranet?
A another look at the classic user v client dilemma. One of the key things to finding a good balance is stakeholder buy-in and inclusion.
An split testing case where removing a green “secure” icon from the page made a vast improvement – their conclusion: “Make each page designed to get the user to do one thing, and try to focus all of their attention on that one thing”.
Alex Manchester in this article from Step Two explores the potential of people search and staff profiles and their role as the very heart of intranet. He also gives examples of people-related concepts in use within organisations today.
Building your entire intranet using Facebook would be an utter nightmare! But let’s not forget the relevance of Facebook as part of internal communication and collaboration. Colleagues who are friends with each other will almost certainly use it to communicate in some way at some point – even if it’s just a “running late for 9am meeting” or “working from home today”. Organisations should consider ways to take advantage of that.
Swedish guidelines published by The Swedish Data Inspection Board recommending how you should deal with communication channels with user generated content, such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube in order to be compliant with Swedish law.
If you are using wordpress for a business site you might want to consider some of the following tweaks – or bring someone in to do them for you.
reality check from Jesper. Yes Google is really important, but it’s not the whole picture. YouTube, Facebook, Intranets, on-site search – Search is a lot more than Google, but it’s all about serving up what people want when they want it.
This autumn I’m going to be attending a couple of conferences. A couple of interesting and inspiring conferences. Hopefully if you are attending either of them then you’ll manage to find me, say hello and be social.
Disruptive Code – 21-22 September 2010
Later this month Disruptive Code takes place in Stockholm at the Tekniska Museet. It looks like an event that will be worth every kronor of the incredibly low price of 3,955.50 SEK for the two days (after the 10% discount you’ll get by using this link of mine)
“Code. Methods. Apps. Services. Tech. Mobile.” is how they summarise the event, which is aimed at web developers but also web designers, IT- and business strategists and entrepreneurs. Amongst the people speaking at the event are a whole load of guys and girls behind some of the most interesting Swedish startups.
The Twitter hashcode for the event is #dcode
IntraTeam Event Stockholm – 5 October 2010
In October Stochkolm hosts a 2-day IntraTeam intranet conference. The first day is an international day, where all the speakers will speak English. The second day has a Swedish focus and will be held in a mix of Swedish and English. Both days are filled with speakers who can give concrete advice and examples of intranet best practices and trends.
I’m attending day one of the conference, and of course hanging about to be social at the cocktail party that brings the day to a close. Looking forward to listening to and meeting James Robertson, Mark Morell amongst others.
The Twitter hashcode for the event is #ies10
See you there?
So, if you are already going, or if you decide to come along, let me know – and say hello!