Where to Find Engaging Workspace Content

In designing and building out enterprise collaboration systems, we often grapple with the question of where to obtain the content that will attract people to a new workspace, and effectively encourage them to participate.

First, to put the question in perspective:

  • Over time, workspace content can become an indispensable knowledge-base and competitive advantage for an organization. However, high-value social networks form most easily around quick information sharing via micro-blogging, so that’s how we start (in this case, with Socialtext Signals) before drilling down into workspaces.
  • Don’t overlook the human element. Yes, new workspaces need to be seeded with appropriate content. But instead of looking for the content, look for the person who really cares about the content, someone who attends the conferences in that domain, plays with the tools, reads or even better contributes to the key blogs. These are the “subject matter experts” who can provide access to the key content.

You, and your contributors, will typically be able to extract useful content from sources such as:

  • Email folders: The best place to find valuable content, which can easily be copied into the workspace and tagged. Copy over selected historical data to workspace pages, then keep them updated by email by simply adding the page email address to your address books (both desktop and mobile).
  • Email attachments: These are especially valuable because they provide a rich trove of keywords that generate hits when new users search for specific projects, products, technologies, people, and events.
  • Shared drives: These often contain all sorts of useful content, that could be put to better use if it were searchable and tagged.
  • Blogs: With permission, copy a selection of relevant blog posts to the workspace, with links back to the original blog. Keep the content fresh.
  • Bookmarks: Aggregate and annotate the most useful bookmarks recommended by the subject matter experts. And structure these pages so that it’s easy for everyone to contribute.
  • Conference proceedings: Another great source for technical information, and for identifying experts in a field.
  • Social media: Build community pages that link to people’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media systems.

A parting thought – to obtain the wisdom of crowds, you need crowds, so spread the work around and forget about trying to do this all yourself.