I’ve been a Jive user for about 3 years now, and involved in the Jive Community since 2008. As we’ve all seen, one of the recurring topics in the community is how to increase user adoption.  Like many, I have given this topic serious thought, and one strategic approach is to consider how you use Groups and Spaces.  Stay with me while I take you through my thinking, seeded by an engagement we had with Jive Strategy Consulting early on in our development.

In a drive to increase user adoption, community managers also have the opportunity to influence behavior and thinking about the company’s strategic goals.  Community managers are the ones that create Spaces and encourage employees to create Groups, both of which help draw in the masses.  If you are strategic in your thinking about use of Spaces and Groups, users will begin to join and follow because you will have designed a community that is relevant to them.  Consider this:

Create a Space when you are asking:

  • Is the information or conversation around a topic that is B2E (Business to Employee) and public?
  • Do we want to or need to drive awareness around particular enterprise-wide topics for specific groups of individuals or departments or the entire company?
  • Is there a business hierarchy that needs to be maintained in the conversation?
  • Do you have requirements with complex and granular control for authorization/permissions?

Encourage employees to create a Group when asking:

  • Do we have a need for private collaboration among a select set of users?
  • Are there employees within the company that need to lead an initiative or project and establish themselves as that initiative/project leader for a select set of users?
  • Is the conversation or collaboration meant to be public (with concepts like “invite”, “view”, “can view but not contribute”, etc.?
  • Do you want to give your group owner the freedom to invite employees by them selves (as opposed to controlling permissions by the system administrators)?

Create a Space with sub Groups when you want have both public and private collaboration around a topic.  Here is the approach:

  • Use a top level Space as entry point or “lobby” (look Gia Lyons blog for details)
  • Keep all subspaces as Public and centered around main themes/topics
  • Create Groups to provide private areas for teams/units or managers who may want to have private discussions
  • Use “Social Groups” widget or “Lobby Widget” to show aggregated contents from the related groups in the community lobby (i.e. ‘bind’ the related Groups with the community lobby page)

The configuration options for Groups include:

Open: Membership is open and non-members can view content and participate.

– Everyone can see the group in the list.

– Everyone can view and create content without joining the group.

– Everyone can join without needing permission of the owner.

Members Only(Membership is open and non-members can view content, but must  join to participate.)

– Everyone can see the group in the list

– Everyone can view the content without joining the group

– To create content you must first join the group

– Anyone can join without permission of the owner

Private: (Membership is by approval/invitation only  and only members can view  content and participate.)

– Everyone can see the group in the list

– Non-members cannot see the content without joining the group

– Everyone can ask to join this group and gain access upon approval from the group owner

– Group owner can also send an invitation to a non-member to join the group (this also applies to the above two group types)

Secret: Membership is by invitation only, only members may participate, and the group is not listed in the group directory

– This is the most secure group type

– Not everyone can see the group in the list, only the members can see it in the Group listing

– Non-member cannot ask to join this group

– Membership is only via invitation from the group owner

Still confused with Groups and Spaces?  Here is a guide to the different characteristics and features of Groups and Spaces: Groups vs. Spaces (a decision matrix)

Now as a leader of your community, you need to decide or guide decisions on how to structure your community to align with your company goals. You will influence the behavior of your organization through these decisions and guidance. I’m interested to hear about how you chose to structure your community and the lessons you have learned.