Workshop Presentation from Support Driven Expo (SDX), June 2018.

Encouraging your fellow employees to engage more with Community members can be a challenge, and it’s not a behavior that can be changed overnight.  When you set strategize and plan realistic goals – no matter how small – you’ll gradually find yourself with more internal Community advocates.

In 2.5 years I went from being a new Zuora employee – not knowing anyone – to enlisting 80+ internal global volunteers for a Community-sponsored “Learners’ Lounge” at Zuora’s annual conference, Subscribed.

Where It All Began

I didn’t go to college expecting to become a community manager. In fact, I’ve worked 15+ years as a civil/structural engineer and my claim to fame is that I’ve designed some parts of the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA!

Check out how I discovered Community Management.

What’s Zuora?
Zuora creates cloud-based software on a subscription basis that enables any company in any industry to successfully launch, manage, and transform into a subscription business.

In a nutshell, Zuora can be used by any industry and can be customized. As you know, when you customize software, things can conflict and that’s where the Zuora Community can help!

About the Zuora Community
The Zuora Community is a space where anyone can talk about the Zuora product  with their peers, Zuora staff and partners.  Users can ask questions, share solutions, and use cases with each other as well as request product enhancements from our product teams, interact with engineers and other internal teams.

We launched our Community in January 2016.

Getting Employees Involved

Struggling to motivate internal employees to participate in your community is a common issue – people see the value, but are busy, don’t know how to begin, etc.

Being the problem solver that I am, I decided to monitor the community to see what people were saying – who were the people within Zuora that users want to talk to?

A couple months post-launch, I discovered that my internal celebrities were:

  • Product Managers: Users share their ideas and can interact with product teams to influence the product roadmap.
  • Subject Matter Experts: SMEs know everything which means that users  get faster and more accurate solutions.
  • Engineering: Users want to know about upcoming maintenance and when issues are resolved.

3 top teams = identified.  Now, how to get them more involved?

Dream Big, but Start Small

My first goal was to encourage teams to simply consider the Community as an option to solve any of their issues.  They don’t need to know how the Community will help them (that’s my job!), they just need to reach out to me and we can brainstorm together.  We called it our “Think Community” initiative.

Since I started at Zuora in 2015,  these 5 tactics helped  internal teams “Think Community” and include the Community into their processes.

Every company culture is different so what might’ve worked for me, might not work for you, but I hope that my suggestions will help inspire you to come up with some of your own.

Feel free to use my PDF worksheet that you can use for your own internal team engagement strategy.

Capture Quotes with Emotion

Customers are your bread and butter which is why you want to begin collecting any positive quotes about how the Community has helped them.

What Type of Quotes Should I Collect?
Gather  quotes that evoke emotion from the poster and the recipient – in this case, use responses directed toward an internal employee.

For example, the Community member quote “WHOA! I honestly didn’t think this would even get a response! Awesome!” shows how impressed, happy and surprised the original poster is.  The recipient, on the other hand, is one of our product managers and when he reads this response, he feels pride and a sense of accomplishment, which helps get him one step closer to participating again.

Executive Buy-In is Crucial for Internal Engagement.
When you find a great quote, email a “thank you” email to the internal recipient and cc: his/her manager.    When upper management sees one of their team member’s positively interacting with customers, that’s a career and morale booster.

Develop Your Plan

One of my first tasks was to make a list of strategic and tactical goals for every department within Zuora so that you know which teams would be the easiest to convert to your Community.  The ultimate goal of this task is to find that one team who’ll be your poster child with awesome success metrics and then knock ’em each out one by one.

Steps to Create Your Strategic and Tactical Plan

  1. Using your intranet, write down each department within your company.
  2. Under each team, write down your end goal strategies.  For example, do you want your SMEs to answer more customer questions, or do you want your product team to post monthly release notes in your Community?
  3. Next, write down how you hope to accomplish your strategies – will you send SMEs 3-5 questions a week for them to reply to, or maybe you’ll draft the most recent release note as an example to show the product team?

If you’re stuck, take one of the team members out for coffee, lunch or a walk break to find out what problems they’re facing in their job; people tend to vent about work when they’re socializing.  That’ll be your “in”!

Create a V2MOM

Using your list above, pick a team to turn into your Community superstar and further detail so that you can have measurable results.

At Zuora, we use Salesforce’s V2MOM Method which really helps map out your action plan. It’s short and simple enough to help you stay on task and execute your vision.

While a V2MOM appears short and easy to fill out, it requires a lot of thought.  Be as detailed and honest to yourself as you can be as this will be your roadmap toward success.

Plan on completing your V2MOM within one fiscal year so that you can have a success story.

What’s Next?

After you’ve written your V2MOM, assign realistic due dates for when you plan on executing your Methods and gather Metrics.  Stick to this schedule and continue to revisit and refine it throughout the year.

Socialize Your Community Internally

Marketing teams create externally, so why not create an internal Community newsletter to showcase how other teams are using  it.

Your newsletter is a great way to encourage internal teams to continue or start to “Think Community”, praise individuals or teams that have had success with Community and also educate employees on Community basics.

Include call-to-action areas so people know who to reach out to if they have Community questions.

At Zuora, we have an internal point reward system where employees can exchange points for gift cards. I started giving out “Think Community” MVP awards to individuals who’ve reached out to me about using the Community or introduced others to the Community.  That rewards program really helped boost awareness.

Create “How To” Decks

As I talked to more employees about our Community, I found that most of them were eager to be a part of it, but they didn’t know how to do it or how their team could participate.

I recall going to our Beijing office and talking to one of our engineers there. He said that his team really wanted to engage more in Community, but they weren’t confident about how to do it or even how to get started.

From that conversation, I created this onboarding deck and continued to create decks for our account executives, customer success managers, partners, support teams and more.

Extra Tips

If your company has an internal channel, create promotional content using Canva.  Above are some examples I used to try to get more volunteers at Zuora’s annual conference, Subscribed.

Another idea is to create an internal hub where employees can get Community 101 and FAQ tips.

Lastly, why not take a team member out for lunch?  Eventually, the conversation will steer toward work and you can casually mention how you’re helping other teams succeed via the Community, which in turn will plant ideas in their head about how they can leverage the Community for their team.

Questions?

DM me via @lanalyzer314 on Twitter.  I’d love to help brainstorm ideas, look over your V2MOMs, etc.