There are many internal online collaborative platforms such as Yammer, Social Cast and Jive that organizations use to connect, engage and communicate with employees. The use of enterprise social networks is on the rise and according to industry reports many companies will are seeing the value of collaboration and will have implemented a solution internally. In this post I am writing to share tips to run an effective online chat on your collaborative platform.
Identify the approach and process: Your live online chat needs to have a clear objective and outcome. This chat mustn’t be confused with a personal chat that is often available with most enterprise social networks. Your live chat can be of a leader addressing employees about a business plan, the learning and development head sharing a new approach to career growth or the HR manager inviting questions on performance management and so on. Whatever the subject, you need to define the plan for the chat – for example, invite questions in advance, put a note on your audience’s calendars, choose a suitable time and duration (probably around lunch or when a majority of your workforce is available) and outline the benefits of participation.
Define your war room strategy: If you are moderating the chat, prepare the leader on what they can and will expect during the chat. You may anticipate specific questions and therefore prepare a document in advance with key messages that will help the leader speed up on the responses. Call out who will be in the room where the leader can chat from. Chalk out the responsibilities – you will need a person to spot the questions coming on the online stream, a person to identify themes that emerge from the questions and summarize it for the leader and one to capture the notes for a post event note. Remember that the leader may not be able to answer all questions – and that is fine as long you communicate when you can get back on the unanswered questions.
Focus on the audience: You need to be directive with your audience on how and where they can ask their questions. Use a catchy hashtag – ideally which personalizes the conversation. Something like – #mygrowth or #liveitmyway or #myquestion4tom. They will also need to know when it is appropriate to start asking questions – the leader can begin by posting a note that the chat has begun. Create an online group that will anchor the conversation in one space. Often, if the messages come on the ‘all company’ stream the chain of questions can get lost as the chat progresses. Ideally, keep it on one thread.
Promote the live chat real-time: There may be employees who are unsure of asking questions until they see others take the lead. You can influence them by ‘sharing’ key pieces from the ongoing chat within other groups if the topic is relevant for a wider audience. That way, you may have others pitching in without hesitation.
Report the output: Ensure that you capture the essence of the conversation and share a summary with those who probably missed out – online and via e-mail in case you don’t have everyone on your social network. Thank participants and recognize those who asked great questions. Communicate the outcomes on your other internal communication channels.
Have other ideas on running a successful online chat? Share them here.
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