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Building an Effective Collaboration Model

Collaboration is a working practice whereby teams and individuals work together for a common purpose to achieve positive business outcomes—in this case, the journey to become a media company. Collaboration is based on the concept that sharing knowledge through cooperation helps solve business or marketing problems more efficiently. In the enterprise, this principle couldn’t be truer; especially as more and more employees engage with one another through asynchronous, real-time technology platforms such as Yammer or Chatter.

Charles Darwin, an English Naturalist in the 1800s said, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” And if you think about this and apply it to your content strategy, it makes perfect sense. If you can tap into the collective knowledge and brainpower of others on your team, the positive business outcome will be the production of better content, smarter marketing, and more effective customer relationships. Figure 10.3 is one way to look at a collaboration framework.

Figure 10.3

Figure 10.3 Internal collaboration framework

Collaboration models can be complex and detailed. It is simplified here so that you can easily adapt it to make it work in your organization. The elements that make up this framework are

  • Brainstorming: All stakeholders meet periodically (daily, weekly, monthly) to discuss content with high engagement numbers, as well as content that might integrate with current marketing campaigns or other initiatives. This meeting can also serve as the daily gathering of the creative newsroom team to identify trending topics in the news cycle and determine whether or not there is an opportunity to capitalize on it.
  • Collaborating and Creating: Stakeholders work together to create, co-create, aggregate, and curate content from third-party sites. Again, this could be a situation where the team is creating content in real-time or be more of a longer-term content planning cycle.
  • Sharing and Distributing: Content and editorial teams share content direction, assets, and general strategy with brand, product, or regional teams. Content can be housed in a content library for easy consumption and sharing or placed into a content platform such as Sprinklr, Spredfast, or Kapost for dynamic delivery to stakeholders.
  • Broadcasting: Content teams publish content and provide strategic counsel to regional teams. Regional teams localize and publish content within their social media channels.

There are also several technologies in the market place that can help facilitate collaboration whether you work for a large organization or small business. If you work for a large company, most likely you may have access to some of these tools. If not, you will have to invest in a platform that can help you achieve better collaboration with your teams.

Yammer is probably the most well-known internal collaboration platform for small to medium-sized businesses. With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of its platform, Yammer now stands to compete with other enterprise-level collaboration systems.

At a high level, Yammer is a social network that’s entirely focused on your business. For you to join the Yammer network, you must have a working email address from your company’s domain. You can also create external networks to allow for non-employees, such as suppliers and customers, to communicate with your company. Yammer allows you to share and discuss documents, images, videos, and presentations with your coworkers. It also enables you to upload new versions of files to ensure everyone sees the latest draft and maintain older versions as well.

You can also work with a team to create, edit, and publish content; you can display team goals, compile notes, and draft documents together online, viewing character-by-character changes in real time as others make edits. Finally, you can stay on top of activity from across your company as it happens—discover newly created documents, new members of your groups, recently shared images, active discussions, and activity taking place in other business applications. Other platforms that offer similar capabilities to Yammer are VMware’s Social Cast, Jive, IBM Connections, and Salesforce’s Chatter. Following are a few other collaboration platforms that you might not have heard of:

  • Co-op is a free application with a simple user interface similar to Twitter. The features allow you to post updates, ask questions, share links, and track time. Co-op also enables you share your daily agenda with your coworkers so everyone knows what projects that you are currently working on. Their web application automatically stores records of you and your team’s activity, allowing you to review what your team has accomplished each day.
  • Cynapse’s Cyn is an open source community and has a complete collection of enterprise-grade collaboration tools. Three versions of their platform are available:

    • The free community edition includes Active Directory integration, application source code, web-based appliance management console, and more.
    • The other editions sell for several thousand dollars a year and have features such as wikis, blogs, file repositories, event calendars, discussion boards, image galleries, collaboration spaces, status logs, people directory, crowd rating and voting, and more.
  • CubeTree, recently acquired by SuccessFactors, is an on-demand enterprise collaboration suite available in free and premium versions. The free version includes user profiles, micro-blogging, file sharing, wikis, and 10MB of storage per user. Their standard features include the above as well as status updates of 140 characters; a commenting feature (similar to that of Facebook’s); feed filtering, which lets you choose who to follow and what feed items you’d like to receive; direct addressing (similar to Twitter’s @name function); and open APIs that allow for the integration with several third-party systems and applications.
  • Hashwork is a simple internal social network for small- to medium-sized businesses. It doesn’t require a company administrator, and it’s as easy as entering a company email address to sign up and get access. The user interface and functionality is similar to Twitter with features like 140-character posts, direct addressing, groups, hashtags, and so on. You can get more robust features with paid versions of their application.

The second step for building a content governance framework is creating workflows for planned and unplanned content, which is discussed in the next section.

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