Getting people to participate

How do you get people to "participate" or to use an intranet/collaboration tool? If you were to sit down and think about this I imagine you could all come up with a few ideas and the internet is certainly awash with them.

So I thought I'd sit down and think about how I'd encourage people to participate. This list is by no means exhaustive and although some of these ideas have worked, they're not right for all organisations.
  1. It might seem obvious but you have to make the tool easy to use. If people are presented with a user interface that's buggy or clunky or both then they're unlikely to use it again.
  2. You also need to be creating content on a regular basis. Individuals want to see that their content is going to be either updated/read by other individuals or is part of a growing resource. Also nobody wants to be the first person to still their head about the ramparts so populate the intranet early on.
  3. Something that might work is to give individuals recognition/provide competition. Yammer is very good at displaying recognition in leaderboards and I have no doubt that we'll see more organisations looking at how they can use gamification to encourage collaboration.
  4. An important part of any intranet is providing content that people need, rather then just swamping the intranet with useless content. Making content relevant should encourage people to read the intranet. If you don't know what people want, you should ask them!
  5.  Giving power to the people is a good way to encourage participation. If you make individuals/departments responsible for adding and updating content it's more likely to stay relevant and be read. At least that's the hope!
  6. Make it social by allowing individuals to comment on content, post "fun" stuff and connect with other colleagues. But remember your intranet will be serving a specific role and that probably isn't a place for people to have fun.
  7. Finally if you can, only post important information to the intranet. This is a tricky one as everyone will say that they don't read the intranet and so will miss stuff, but if you can do this then it will certainly impact on usage.
Those are my errm top 7 tips, not exactly a very round number. What have I missed?

[Photo credit - Student participation in open source projects (A professor's perspective)]