Archives For November 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

November 30, 2008 — Leave a comment



Prep work

Originally uploaded by vzrjvy

Had a great time in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. It was great to celebrate the holiday with family; luckily, we’ve now got some within driving distance.

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I’ve been thinking more about the role of social media managers.  I’m planning on putting together a presentation to give internally that would basically act as a skeleton job description.    Here are some random thoughts (hopefully, I can organize them later)

 

  • Each function in a company could have someone listening, replying, connecting; this will break up the work and allow for specializaiton.
  • Listening is harder than it sounds
  • SMM needs to know the company landscape 
  • Internally, SMM will need to understand technology, but not like an externally facing SMM.  Internal tools evolve/change less quickly/frequently.
  • SMM needs to know what to communicate as well as what not to communicate
  • SMM needs to know security / legal / exmport/import rules
  • SMM needs to have at least a bachelors, (maybe a masters??); SMM will be working with high level execs and will be expected to understand the business.  Gets back to listening
  • SMM will need to travel; attendance at key steering team or leadership team meetings will be essential; as well as at symposiums, vendor conferences, summits, etc…
  • SMM will act as an embedded journalist
  • SMM will need to be an outgoing; they’re the virtual water cooler
  • SMM will need to support reuse, collaboration, knowledge management
  • Maybe the role needs to be rotational so the SMM doesn’t get out of touch with what’s going on in the organization
  • I keep thinking that a profile page + twitter is all this position requires from a tool standpoint.  In fact, I think it’s all companies need to be significantly effective at Enterprise2.0.  
  • I need to do some benchmarking among our competitors; that always draws attention.
  • This sounds like it has the makings of a great position.  
  • Probably a transitory position to start the community.  Once the communication begins to flow, SMM becomes more strategic in terms of what to amplify.  Probably moves from a knowledge mgmt/reuse role to more of a journalist role.  

In the enterprise, software development is an area that can take years to be brought up to speed.  You’ve got to identify skill sets and core competencies of your developers, define standards and develop your architecture. But there is another movement taking place where IT departments (and really, the entire enterprise) has the opportunity to be on the bleeding edge: social media & the development of a social media manager (SMM).

Here’s a link to an excellent post by Paul Chaney making the case for such a position.   

This post, as many do, proposes creating the SMM as an externally facing position.  It’s a very good idea, but one many others cover and doesn’t need me to copy cat.  What I see an opportunity for is a slight twist on the position: create a SMM that’s internally facing.  Depending on the size of your company you might have multiple SMMs; perhaps one for each major function at your company – BizDev, Supply Chain, Finance, HR, Comms, Engineering, IT, Product…

‘What will the social media manager do ?’, you ask.  Ultimately, the SMM would act as a combination of two roles, maven and connector, made popular in Malcolm Gladwell’s, The Tipping Point.  At a very high level, they will listen in on and participate in the online conversation that is happening inside your company.  This assumes, of course, that your company has the means (tool) to have a conversation and that said conversation is happening.  (This position would be especially useful if your company has invested in a tool but can’t make it ‘go’) 

The chosen SMM will need to be a SME not only in social media, but also in the functional area of the company to which they are assigned to participate.   The idea here is that the SMM will be able to navigate the tool as well as the funcational landscape, putting people and ideas together to enhance knowledge management, reuse and collaboration; that’s your business case.  Until the semantic web hits enterprise internally, the SMM can act as a human proxy.  Most companies have ‘graybeards’, this would be a great way for them to participate.  

I see the SMM going to conventions, sitting in on key meetings, being an embedded journalist of sorts disseminating the information to those that can use it but can’t get it first hand.  

While the sound of the position is new, as Chaney points out, there is a good chance there is someone in your company already doing it, aka the Accidental SMM.  As we move to a work environment that supports telecommuting and virtual teams, the conversation is shifting from the water cooler to…to…to whatever the virtual equivalent of the water cooler is.  It will be important to have tools AND people to bring it all together.  Such a position might even help us with Knowledge Management, an initiative we generally lay at the altar of enterprise apps.  Maybe what we need is less machine and more human.

The View…

November 20, 2008 — Leave a comment



Corea: Cabling going in

Originally uploaded by vzrjvy

…I hope to have one day (minus the construction stuff)

Regardless of the company we work for or the industry it is in, we’re all privy to information that’s just not acceptable to blog/tweet/post. The Colonel’s secret recipe, for example, is locked up in a safe in Kentucky; you’re not going to find it on Gourmet Magazine’s blog.

With all the benefits social media brings to companies wanting to get closer to their consumers (and employees), it also provides a means for the wrong information to get distributed to the wrong people. Everyone’s listening.

So the question I pose is: where do you draw the line?  

Here’s an example of the point I’m trying to make:

Let’s say I’m a chef working in KFC’s test kitchen.  While I may not have access to the secret recipe, I certainly would have insider information as to what types of meals/ptoducts are in R&D.  This type of information is probably sensitive & competitive, intended to give the Colonel a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Now, as a chef who is up on his social media, I’ve got the following accounts: Twitter, WordPress, YouTube. I’ve also got an online resume that states my employer’s name, my title, and a job description that reveals enough to identify me as a key player in the KFC kitchen.  I figure that I can get an edge on the competition by using social media to get closer to my consumer.  Makes total sense.  So, I blog and Tweet about some of the recipes I’m working on in an attempt to solicit feedback.  Maybe I even record a video of me cooking dinner at home that’s got nothing to do with work.  I’m a bit of a ham.  No big deal, right?

Enter social engineering.

What some would say that I have created, as a chef with a palette for social media, is a big sign that says ‘I have competitive intelligence.  Right here.  Me.’  My online-ness tells them where I work, maybe where I live, maybe where I shop, maybe even the coffee shops and bars I frequent.  Some would argue that I, even with the best interest of KFC at heart (and maybe a little big of an ego), have unknowingly made myself a target and a liability.

Yes, it sounds a little far fetched, maybe something out of a spy movie, but things like this absolutely happen.  I’ve used KFC and the fast food industry only as an example.  There are other industries where the information is much more sensitive and people are willing to pay a high price for it.

Let’s return to the KFC example, though.  In terms of national security, the secret recipe means nothing.  But what about all of the brand equity stored in the phrase, even the idea, of ‘the colonel’s secret recipe’ ?  It has taken years to build that type of equity.  Think of the damage that would be done if it wasn’t a secret anymore.  Sure, the chicken would probably taste the same (and you’d be able to get it at any restaurant) but the mystique would be gone.  The brand would be in need of serious repair.

Please note that I am only playing devil’s advocate here.  However, there are some who are in favor of removing online job postings, online resumes and implementing harsh penalties for using social media for anything other than purely social purposes.  They feel any participation in the online discussion that even hints at ‘work’ is a major liability.  They are extremist, but they exist; at the very core of their argument, they do have a point.

So, back to the question.  Where do you draw the line?

I have some ideas here and would love to synthesize any comments into Part II of this post.  Then we can move on from the security topic for now, which I would like very much.

I love social media. I love technology. For me, they just go together; they’re like a hi-tech version of peanut butter and jelly. I adopt a new tool/service/application out of pure curiosity. I love they way this ecosystem integrates, the content is truly separated and mobile from the format. Because of this I, and many of you, get to weave threads (our thoughts, interests and views (pedestrian at times)) – our personal brands, if you will – through the loom that is the internet. That turns us on. We love social media. We love technology.

For us, the ROI is simple, inherent, maybe it’s in our DNA. For others, investing time and effort into social media requires a little more arm twisting. It’s not as easy for them to see what they’re going to get out of it. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze for them.

That’s fine. No skin off our nose. There are roughly 300M people worldwide with broadband connections. I think we’ll find plenty of contributors to the social media fabric making it more than worth our while to participate.

But what if you don’t have those kinds of numbers to draw on? What if you’re in a much smaller population? What if you’re looking to implement communities at work, school, maybe in your town or church. You can’t afford low adoption rates if the online community is to be successful. And if you are planning something like this for the workplace you risk having the plug pulled on your project and any social media gains being set back months and maybe even years. Back of the line, please.

So, what does it take to put together successful online communities? I’d like to list some of the highlights from my experience, various presentations I’ve attended and articles I’ve read on the subject. Hopefully, these practices will guide you in the right direction .

 

From IBM

IBM recently gave a presentation at work, focusing on what to do to make our Connections pilot successful.  While this isn’t the slide deck they used, slides 20 – 22 contain some of the key points they made.

Here are are their five steps to successful adoption followed by my comments.

  • Active and visible executive sponsorship – I get this, I do.  Not many corporate initiatives are successful without executive sponsorship.  However, I will argue the point a bit in that when it comes to an initiative requiring a grass roots type of effort, as community building generally does, executive sponsorship can be threatening.  It’s almost like a father telling his daughter, ‘I don’t want you to date Johnny.’  Well, is there anything that would guarantee the daughter falling head over heels for Johnny better than dad’s official denouncement?  In many ways, leadership plays the role of the parent and the individual contributors that of the daughter.  I think the role of leadership, in this case, needs to be that of a silent partner.  They should understand the technology is a good thing, sign the PO’s and if anyone asks they should give a thumbs up.  If you want to build a community, you have to leave it up to the community to build itself.
  • Dedicated Resources – totally agree here. But, to echo what I said above, these resources need to silently enable the community, almost like a guardian angel.  They need to listen and react instead of dictate.  
  • Well Orchestrated Program – true, true. There needs to be a vision & charter for this type of implementation.  While you want to give your community freedom to branch out in the direction they desire, you need to have a scope defined to direct you in your effort.  
  • Frequent and Open Communications – what better way to manage and communicate a social media implementation than by using social media.  Eat your own dogfood.  One big trend I’m noticing in the project management world is the increasing use of wikis to manage projects.  It provides transparency and communication to anyone interested and is a great use of the tool.
  • Employee Participation – Duh.  Ok, it’s a little more complex than that.  This one particular bullet is probably worth a blog post in itself, and it will be my next one.  A key point to think about now is identifying Ambassadors.  These are the people that, instead of the upper management dad-types, will be the ones bringing the message to the people.  They will help start the grass roots movement.

 

From Dan Schwabel’s Personal Branding Blog

Dan recently had a coversation with Seth Kahan, speaker, author, Fast Company blogger & online community builder.  Definitley check out the post, but here are the hilights, followed by my comments.

 

  • Strong Business Benefits – Ah.  The classic business case.  Definitley a must, especially for those not sold on the idea of social media in the enterprise.  Lots of different ways to quantify this in terms of cost reduction and productivity improvements.  Revenue generation is a bit of a reach, but not out of the question.  Many people argue the merits of this business case.  This topic is also deserving of its own post.
  • Attention to Community Area Concerns – getting back to the 2nd IBM bullet.  You need to be listening to the community, reacting and then enabling.  This will show you care and build trust with the participating members.  They will not forget that.  
  • Participant Payoffs – controversial topic here.  I’ve seen studies showing that participation does enhance community participation, but once the payoffs are gone so is the participation.  I think it’s important to drill a little deeper here and have the payoffs tied into the participant needs, so they’re related and not arbitrary.  This is actually a major issue at work, and no real progress has been made.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Seth gets into 10 additional rules for creating strong communities.  I’m not going to list them here; I’m already bordering on plagiarism.  However, I think it’s important that you read them as they are a strong complement to the steps listed so far.  

 

From Gartner

Gartner has published a very good six pager on the topic:  Seven Key Characteristics of a Good Purpose for Social Software

The underlying theme of this article is that you can’t simply put software tools in place and then expect your community to come; you need a purpose.  We will refer to this as the Field of Dreams approach.  (One startling stat in this artile – 70% of attempts to form communities fail.  eek)

OK, here’s what Gartner says.  You know the drill.

 

  • Create a Magnetic Community – gets back into the participant payoffs..  Instead of giving someone a Starbucks gift card for having the most posts, strive to make participation in the community the benefit itself.  People will come back if their job is made easier, and maybe even more fun, by participating in the community.
  • Aligned – Same thing as IBM’s Well Orchestrated bullet?  A little bit.  What Gartner is getting at is making sure the purpose for your community is aligned with the business strategy.  They offer two kinds of alignment, Direct and Indirect.  It’s good.  You should read it.
  • Low Risk – Your goal here is adoption.  So, as tempting as it is to go down in history as the guy who changed the culture at stodgy, conservative engineering firm X you should instead just get some small wins.  Focus on low risk over high reward.  Build the momentum slowly.  Couldn’t agree more, especially after seeing paltry results from Big Bang approaches.
  • Properly Scoped – see my comments in IBM’s Well Orchestrated Program bullet.  The only thing worth adding here is to start small.  Don’t try to hit it out of the park, we’ll take base hits for now.
  • Facilitates Evolution – if you do everything right, at some point the culture will change and your communities will expand in number and scope.  While starting small is good, you need to be ready for expansion.  If participants want to innovate and run into road blocks you will have a major setback on your hands.
  • Measurable – this sounds like something right out of the Six Sigma handbook.  But, it’s absolutely true.  Choose your metrics wisely, as you can only improve upon what you measure.  
  • Community-Driven – Another no-brainer?  Yes, but it must be acknowledged.  This ties into the major theme that communities must be self-perpetuating.  If communities are only vital because the enterprise is manipulating them, the value proposition.  Remember, the enterprise has to back off.

 

OK.  That wraps it up on this end.  I think we’ve covered some great community best practices.  Lots of issues identified for further discussion in subsequent posts.

 

Have any best practices of your own?  Disagree with any of the experts I referenced above? Let me know what you think.

It’s great to see that Connections, or something of its ilk, has finally arrived.  It’s surreal (good surreal) writing blogs, posting profile information, tagging people and pages INSIDE the firewall.  We’re finally getting on the bandwagon, right?  Go team!

As I continue to set up shop in Connections, however, I’m starting to get a sense of the complexity social networking inside the firewall might bring to what I like to think of as my connected life – Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Flickr, YouTube, Google Reader, LinkedIn, SlideRocket, FriendFeed, Brightkite, Snurl, and other assorted blogs and podcasts.  I put a lot of time into keeping things organized, consistent and current out there…it’s almost like managing yourself as a brand (see David Armano’s BrandU.0 presentation).  Believe it or not, there’s real value to keeping consistent across all of these sites – even if it’s just your profile picture. 

So, now what? 

  • Do I Twitter or Yammer?  There are only four employees registered with Yammer, so I think that answer is easy for now.
  • Dogear or Delicious? Took me over an hour to import my Delicious bookmarks into Dogear (maybe I missed something).  But now, when I want to add a link where do I put it?  Both? OK, not out of the question for one application, but what about all of them?
  • What about Widgets? Facebook or Connections Profile or iGoogle? Will we be able to put widgets on our Connections profile page?
  • What about LinkedIn?  They just came back from the brink of irrelevancy with some major announcements this week.  And they already store the type of information that we could develop a skills database from without starting from scratch.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the line separating Inside from Outside is blurry.  Blurring it even further is the population of employees that already participate on the outside.  Let’s look at Facebook – search for company name and here’s what you get:

  • 29 Events
  • 63 Groups
  • 500+ Profiles.

Let’s do the same search for LinkedIn….actually, why don’t you do that search?  From the looks of things, you’ve already got an account.  FYI, LinkedIn lists almost 4,000 of our jobs.

 

(for the brief remainder of this post I will assume that security doesn’t exist…………I know)

This Enterprise2.0 effort to connect our employees is best served by being as ‘open’ as possible.  The more we can take advantage of that blurred line the more value there is.  Reducing duplication of effort will lower barriers to entry and push this effort forward on the already existing equity employees have made on the Outside.  Certainly, the more social an employee is the bigger the payoff, but even for a casual user who just wants to keep their bookmarks consistent there is value.