“Thank you for your hard work.”
The statement, posted by a Facebook friend, was directed at a pile of discarded clothing. “She’s actually talking to her clothes,” I thought, feeling pity on her. “Has she lost her mind?”
Fast forward a couple years later, and here I am, seven bags of discarded clothing later.
You’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo’s decluttering method, detailed in her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Kondo’s services are said to command a mile-long waiting list in Japan, and have spiked in popularity in the United States.
“Does this bring me joy?” is the premise for keeping an item, under the KonMari Method. The same can be applied to your enterprise social network, but by asking the question, “Does this appear to be generating value?”
Allowing members of your employee community the ability to create their own groups can and likely will lead to hundreds—or thousands—of groups in a community. While this ability is important in giving employees a feeling of ownership, it's doubtful all of these groups will be active, unduplicated and truly valuable. We’ve found this to be true of our small, but nimble employee community—and we have fewer than 30 groups.
Talk Social to Me recently applied the KonMari method to our employee community, archiving groups we no longer found to be of value. The goal was to help us better focus our efforts in places most fruitful for collaboration.
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips:
Whistle While You Work: Commit Yourself to Tidying Up
If you’re in the planning stages of your community, consider yourself to have a leg up in this area. This is your chance to save time later by including a group cleanup policy within your community governance.
Your policy should specify an incremental time period in which you will clean up your employee community by archiving or deleting groups that meet certain criteria. Standards might start with removing groups that haven’t produced any unique content in the last three months or groups that have less than two members, for example.
Your policy might also include identifying groups that lack an administrator, as these groups are more likely to be inactive. Based on perceived past value, decide whether it's worth pursuing a new sponsor or volunteering for the job yourself.
Know that if you don't already have a process in place, it will be a timely, manual process that could take away you away from focusing on engagement. If you're a Yammer client, consider purchasing a tyGraph analytics integration for your network to save major time. I recently participated in a brief tour of the product, which includes a time slicer for which groups across your network have not had a message posted in X amount of time.
Let’s Get Loud: Announce Intentions
Know the consequences of deleting versus archiving groups on your platform. Vendors vary on how this is handled. Sometimes, once a group is deleted, it can't be undone. Archived groups might not allow for any new posts, with the ability for reversal if there is a need to reactivate a seasonal group, for example.
As a community manager, you might consider taking matters into your own hands, if archiving group content doesn't result in permanent deletion. Here are some suggestions:
- Post your cleanup plans loudly and clearly in your network’s Group Leaders group before you get started.
- Reach out individually to group administrators of groups that are to be archived/deleted with a timeline as a heads up.
- Pin a note to the top of each group to be archived indicating the date it will happen.
- Indicate a group has been archived by pinning a post to the top of the group, editing the group’s description and/or editing the group’s name.
If your vendor doesn't provide a safety net for deleted content, it's like not being able to search the trash can on your desktop for "accidentally" removed files. It's recommended to work more closely with group leaders, as once content is deleted, it cannot be retrieved.
Consider facilitating a series of educational webinars for group leaders, to help educate them on the importance of cleaning up their groups. The goal should be to make them feel empowered to evaluate and delete old or outdated content for the success of the employee community. At the same time, members take pride in their content contributions, so it's important to approach this with sensitivity.
Set expectations and deadlines for leaders to keep the decluttering on schedule.
Always Be My Baby: Save Sentimental Groups for Last
Maybe you had high hopes and a powerful vision for the Region 7 Leaders group, but it never caught on due to lack of an executive sponsor. These types of groups will be hardest to archive or delete because of your involvement, and perhaps, emotional attachment.
Applying the KonMari method to your employee community can help shed light on the collaboration you envision. You can always re-create or unarchive a group later when you’re ready to commit.
Spoonful of Sugar: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
One of our community managers recently supported a 8,000+ person Yammer network in removing unused and duplicate groups. Over the course of three months, we built a process of notifying group administrators, supporting content migration, and informing users about new group homes. We also built out a naming convention for old groups to discourage usage.
While this process worked well, it was time consuming and took the community manager's focus away from driving engagement. Starting with a proactive group cleanup policy will make your future KonMari efforts more simple.
Amanda Whitesell, a community manager for Talk Social to Me, has experience consulting newsroom leaders across Michigan in digital audience development and social media. As a former journalist, her content has appeared in USA Today, Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal. She has applied the KonMari method to her closets, but refuses to verbally "thank" her discarded clothing.