Wednesday, 16 March 2016

How to deal with "Blank Box fear" in enterprise KM technology

The best thing to do with a "Blank box" on social media, is to ask a question. 

I was reading a blog post recently on writers block on social media - the sort of mental block that hits you when faced with a blank box on Yammer, or a blank page on a blog.

  • Should you post a status?
  • Should you let people know what you are doing?
  • Should you share something you have seen?
I think, if your aim is to promote conversation and knowledge sharing in your organisation, then you should do none of these things. Instead of notifications such as the examples above, you should ask a question. 

Questions generate far more conversation and engagement than notifications, as the following experiment shows.  I took a random sample of 77 LinkedIn discussions posted over the last few weeks in some of the Knowledge Management forums.  The statistics are interesting.

  • 70 of those discussions started with a notification; someone "sharing something"
  • only 7 of those discussions started with a question
  • The average length of the discussion threads started with a notification was 1.1 posts; ie each notification received on average 0.1 comments. 65 of the 70 posts provoked no response. 
  • The average length of the discussion threads started with a question was 14.5 posts; ie each notification received on average 13.5 comments.  No question was unanswered in the sample I looked at.
In fact there was more discussion in the question-led threads than in all the notification-led threads put together, despite there being ten times fewer questions. 

You can try this for yourselves, counting threads and posts on your own linkedin groups, or on your own enterprise social media platforms.  Notifications do not create conversation - questions do.

Just imagine if we started our real live interactions with notifications. Instead of "Hi, how are you? How are your kids? Did you see the match last night? What did you think?" it would be "Hi, I am well today.  I watched Aston Villa last night. I was disappointed by the match. My daughter has a sore throat".  Some conversation, eh?

So if you really want to get a buzz of conversation going on your enterprise social media, don't notify, don't "work out loud" just for the sake of saying something, don't be pulled in by the (wrongheaded) Yammer question "what are you working on".

Ask a question instead.  You may be amazed at the engagement it produces.

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