I attended the session presented by Andrew Mishalove, Groupon’s Global Social Business Strategist, at a marketing conference in Las Vegas. Andrew is not a content marketer, per se, but I found what he does for Groupon is totally related to “content” from the perspective of setting a process and building tools to allow employees around the world to come together, stay together and work together.
Groupon had completed more than 30 acquisitions and grown to over 10,000 employees worldwide in less than seven years. New employees were being added faster than the company could properly integrate and train them about Groupon culture. With such rapid expansions, it’s essential to have a tool or a process to allow management to share its vision and key initiatives, while enabling employees to collaborate and communicate across time zones and regions as they build a unified corporate culture. Andrew was tasked to come up with something!
Andrew used Jive to build an internal employee community platform. It’s a virtual place with various communication features that allow all the employees to congregate and share ideas and best practices and management to communicate vision, business goals and annual strategic directions.
Once the internal community was launched, he focused on promoting its benefits and educating employees on how they can use the community platform. He created several videos and wrote blogs to share with employees worldwide on how they can use the community to talk to each other. Slowly, he noticed that sales and marketing teams were uploading training and other content in the community and sharing with their counterparts in other regions and countries. Useful content for both internal and external communications were uploaded and shared. Andrew called this “Phase I” roll out:
He noticed that most employees will log in, look and search for content while 15-20% of employees are active contributors.
Andrew recently launched Phase 2 by targeting engineers to be active in this internal community. Engineers are the backbone of new product development.
Andrew kicked off the Engineering Hackthon in the internal community and asked engineers to come up with cool features of products and showcase them to the organizations. More than 50 ideas were presented and hundreds of votes were casted.
Engineers tend to be reclusive and reluctant to use new tools. Through Hackthon, Andrew was able to drive a record volume of traffic and adaption of the tool to the engineering groups.
After the session, I asked Andrew about the country usage of the internal community for collaboration and communications. Each country can create their own community using their local languages in this platform. Groupon has a presence in most key Asia Pacific and European counties.
He mentioned that country team’s active engagements have a lot to do with the local community managers. If the local community managers (who are volunteers) are passionate and strong believers in the community and its benefits, they will go out of their ways to encourage local teams to use it.
So far, UK and Spain are very active. Germany is coming alone. Malaysia and Australia are engaging. Japan is a bit challenging.
With more than 30 acquisitions, new employees continue to be added Groupon, so training and integrating them into the Groupon family remains a challenge. In response, new features continue to be added to the community to ensure better and easier collaboration.
In my book, I dedicated chapter three to discussing the importance of organizing a team for global content marketing.
Andrew’s effort highlights the importance of having tools and processes available to enhance communications and collaborations between the headquarters and local teams to drive global efforts. He also keenly pointed out that this initiative needs to be led and coordinated by the headquarters.
Granted, continuous internal promotions and education about available tools is essential. But it’s even more important to understand what will incentivize your employees to use those tools. Using Hackthon with engineers is a great example.