Don’t mandate participation. That never works. If you want employees to participate, the carrot works better than the stick. If it feels like extra work, you’re always fighting an uphill battle.
The problem is motivation. Why would employees participate? Isn't it extra work?
Back at PCGamer, the employees (writers) participated a lot in the community. They were the busiest people I knew, but they participated a lot. Why? Because they were the stars of the community. Their audience knew them. They felt like superstars amongst the audience.
You can apply this to your community. You can gradually build employees (especially those that develop the products/services) into the stars of the community. This may include:
- Hosting a weekly live-chat with a staff member.
- Inviting staff members to write a regular column/post.
- Writing what some of the staff members have been up to that week. This is a frivolous activity that helps members feel they know the staff better (it can be quite lighthearted).
- Interview staff members.
If you want employees participating in the community, you don’t tell to tell them it exist (or even the benefits of participating). You need to build stars amongst them.
There is no shortage of ideas here. The goal is to gradually turn employees into stars. This both focuses upon them sharing new insights and expertise, and encourages other employees to participate.