Using Chatter Groups: Creating the Core Structure

I was recently honored to be a guest on the amazing ButtonClickAdmin Podcast – thanks again to Podcast hosts Mike and Jared for having me!

One of the topics we talked about was the importance of creating an intuitive context structure in any Chatter environment.  This was the first time I’ve explained the concept without a visual aid, and while I hope the idea was clear on the Podcast I wanted to create a quick post to demonstrate how it works.

In any working environment – whether it’s physical or virtual – employees need to know where they need to go to find certain people and/or types of information.  In a physical office building we place departments and teams together, which not only makes it easier for them to work but also makes it easier for their colleagues to find them.  The idea with creating core groups in Chatter is to do the exact same thing: represent your organization’s departments, regions, products, and teams through a deliberate and consistent Chatter group structure.  Every single team should be represented, like this for example:

Core Chatter Group Structure

In this example, every group represents an organizational team or function, and ideally each group uses a naming convention to make it easy for employees to immediately understand the context of each group (i.e. Region: Southwest, Product: Acme Widgets, Internal: Marketing, etc). Ultimately the goal is to ensure that:
a) the relevant people are members of the group (i.e. whomever is on that team) who all have a clear understanding of intention and use cases, and
b) that valuable information is published through the group’s information section as well as in the feed.

Having the right people in each group is only part of the battle.  The next important piece is ensuring that they publish the most commonly needed material from your group or team using the group’s “Information” section.  One of my favorite example strategies for doing this  is around product teams and their groups: I like to create a consistent set of bullets for each product group’s information section that all link to Content Packs (or folders) of material that is kept up to date by the product/marketing teams.  Here is an example:

Chater Product Group Information (example

When all product groups have this consistency built in, it makes it super easy for any employee to know where they need to go to find information or ask questions.   The same concept can be applied to any type of group, whether it be your regions, internal departments, etc.

The overall goal here is fairly simple: we want to make it easier for people to find what they need in order to get their work done.  If you don’t create some level of organization people are going to be lost, they won’t find what they need, they’ll become frustrated, and they’ll want to leave (the environment and/or their job).   Creating a core Chatter group structure like this will significantly improve your Chatter environment’s organizational environment, spur adoption, and ultimately help your colleagues be better at what they do.

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