A community manager grapples with and adjusts to the ups and downs of new collaboration software.
My employer, UBM, the company that publishes InformationWeek and The BrainYard, uses Jive's Engage platform. Because I help support that community, I am active in Jive's customer community, learning from other community managers, offering advice based on how we do things, working with the support team to resolve issues on our site, suggesting new features, and voting on the ideas others offer. So when Jiveupgraded its community to the Jive 5 platform, I was closer to it than most users. Below is a log of my experiences.
Good grief, is this a different experience! And everyone now seems more interested, so there's a flurry of activity. Getting emailed left and right, and seeing the same things in the interface. This is really confusing, and yet also very compelling. I can see (feel) myself getting sucked into wanting to live in here. I see the activity stream changing right before my eyes, and I want to read and respond. (Hear conscience saying calmly, "Step away from the stream, Tracy.") And the site is a bit sluggish; I hope that isn't shades of things to come.
Well, it turns out that Jive had an email setting misconfigured for the upgrade. Note to self not to make that mistake for our upgrade! And the reason the site was slow was because the upgrade required all the indexes to be rebuilt. Now I know for sure why we do upgrades on weekends and not during the week. Personally, I'm still trying to figure out what to do about balancing my email notifications with the Communications and Activity streams. It seems so redundant, and half the time I've already dealt with the emails by the time I see them. Pondering.
Because I can respond to many things right in the stream and not have to navigate to the content itself, I'm finding that I can participate in a lot more conversations than I could before. Sometimes all I do is click to "Like" the comment--it's so quick and easy! And I can "Show Full Preview" (and then hide it if it's too much). Or "Expand" to see all comments and then "Collapse" to see just the most recent comment. And I can even vote on an idea right in the stream. Lots of flexibility! And ooooooh, I see there's a "Trending People" widget on the Activity page--and I'm in it! I guess that's proof that I'm able to be more active (or maybe an indication that I need to listen to my conscience--see above).
Also, because of some discussion going on about announcements, I realized that although there's still a home page on the site, I have managed to avoid seeing it for three days now and haven't missed it at all. Hmmm. Good that I can feel more connected to what's going on around me, but before we upgrade I'll need to give some more thought as to how we bring things to the attention of the community as a whole.
I just realized that I really don't have to live in here. Because of the read tracking in the Communications stream, and the broken line showing me where I last read in the Activity stream, I can walk away and come back and still know where I left off. It's still compelling to stay here and watch the pretty lights and numbers and content changing before my eyes. But it's really freeing to know that I don't have to. I can work in here when I have time, and leave it alone when I don't.
And, oh my gosh, I just found out that if I have an update that I want to target to a specific group or space, all I need to do is "@mention" the group or space in my update, and it will show up in the Recent Activity for that place and will also get emailed or tracked for the people in that place, based on the settings they have selected. How great is that?
OK, I can't handle the duplicate email/communications stream thing anymore! And I've finally realized, especially because my Communications stream is read-tracked (and the Activity stream shows a zigzagged line from where I last viewed), that I won't miss anything by not having things emailed to me. They're always in the system showing that I need to read them, until I mark them otherwise. I can start changing my settings to "Track in Communications" instead of "Receive Email Notification," unless it's something critical that I want to see right away. Cut down on email and yet still stay informed: great concept!
I'm still finding things for which I have to turn off email and turn on tracking instead. But, hey, the pile of email is slowing way down and I feel like I can think again. Plus, I can more easily batch my attention instead of feeling like I have to constantly look.
That flurry of activity I had the first couple of days while trying to get used to things has slowed down. I'm getting more comfortable with things, and I've had the needed "conversations" regarding aspects I think could be clearer or should be changed. I'm sure my behavior will still change over time, but I think I'm through the initial crush. And I'm feeling better about rolling this out to our own community as well. There are still things to address, and I want to see Jive clean up some bugs first, but I can see how this could significantly change usage on our site for the better, and I'm looking forward to that.