Everyone remembers the first time they were fascinated by an online world, an online community where he or she found people like themselves. Topics, discussions and stories that were your own to share. These experiences are what gave the internet character, and everyone involved a sense of online friendship
Whether you found belonging in a forum on Reddit, Habbo Hotel or even World Of Warcraft. You knew it was a place to go to engage in conversations, leave reality and have fun.
Today we are starting to see more online communities than ever. So much, so businesses have decided it is the key to a productive workplace. It has the potential to increase productivity and improve retention.
We must be careful though as these it is not possible to merely pluck them out of thin air. Too many companies now are having conversations like; It’s 2018 we need a community to increase employee retention.
My first experience with an online community at a business level was at Telstra. They tried to ship in their community with an enterprise software called Yammer. Essentially Facebook for business. Gross.
Most mornings I would log in for an irrelevant business-wide news update. Generally, I would find high-level executives gloating about achievements they received as part of their job description. Then every other piece of content from our “Leaders” seemed to be ghostwritten by their PA’s. It felt so unauthentic and unengaging.
We got lost along the way
Corporate goals seem to destroy a sense of community that we find online. We migrate to communities organically and genuinely engage in the conversations we believe are authentic. These places are not someone to gloat about the achievements of one’s self.
Some business communities have created a sense of disconnection, so we must figure out how we can bring that back.
I genuinely believe there could have been some great discussions happening within Telstra’s online community. Although I didn’t know the rules, what topics I could engage in and when I logged in every morning, there was nothing that interested me.
Chatbots are here to help
However, what if there had been someone so courteous to introduce me into this community? Show me around the place, ask what topics interested me? Realistically no one had the time at that Telstra. I can’t say it would’ve been entirely practical either, although a welcome email would have been nice.
A chatbot could work great at a lower level task like introducing people into a new community. Its functionality could act as an interactive directory of sorts. Helping me learn the ropes, discover topics that helped foster thought-provoking conversations.
Primarily this would have helped lower that barrier of entry for me, ignore the gloating C level suits and genuinely find the deepest darkest corner to discuss new technology, company history and Friday lunches.
The future is bright
With the continuing increase in online communities and chatbots, I am sure we will see this marriage come together somewhat naturally.
Communities will continue to grow and become more complex. Chatbots
will become smarter with the rise in AI technology allowing them to deliver a more personalised experience. This technology will lead to more in-depth conversations from a variety of audiences.