That’s a big wall…

10 July, 2008

Over the last week or so I have been banging on about moving beyond the early adopters to engage with the second wave. Last week I blogged about value, this week I’m thinking about the barriers that the second wave will face.

I reckon there are a few categories they’ll fall into:

  • The point (or a lack of understanding of)
  • How to do it
  • The firewall
  • The time

Each of these are potentially going to stop people coming into our network but there are some things we can do to reduce the impact.

The Point

This really comes back to the value stuff I blogged about the other day. If we nail how our target market will extract the most value out of the tool and manage to articulate that in a clear, concise fashion; we’re laughing. (simple right!?)

I think Andrew Mitchell’s point (see the comments) about capturing user stories will really help here too.

How to do it?

This is another big one, particularly given our audience is primarily made up of ( I hate to use the term) digital immigrants, that said it is reasonably easily addressed. If our email comms are clear, we put together some solid online demos, offer a couple of webinars and recruit / identify good community leaders, I think we can manage this barrier.

The firewall

Blah I hate corporate firewalls! They are an absolute pain in the proverbial!

I reckon the trick getting around them is to ensure that all of our ‘Social’ tools are under our corporate domain. In all cases we are using hosted solutions so bringing everything in under the one roof is a must to avoid this issue.

The Time

I’ve got two thoughts about this one, first is if we do the value / point stuff right then people will be prepared to make some time for of the community. That said, many won’t.

Second, I think building the first social media attempt around an event will help to bring people in. Conference social networks have had a bit of bad press ( I discussed here) in the blgosphere but I think it may work out well for us. If the audience is thinking about the conference they may be more likely to look at a new online initiative that relates to the conference than they would have been if the initiative existed on its own. It also means that by the time the novelty has worn off our project is winding down and we walk off with a bunch of experience to use when we build the next initiative.

The bottom line is we can find ways around many of the barriers to joining the social network, but really if the audience can’t see the value of it very clearly, they won’t bother.

A final note – The iPhone contracts here in Australia are a complete joke! Bring on Android!

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3 Responses to “That’s a big wall…”

  1. Janet Clarey Says:

    Sounds like you could use some velcro for that wall climb.

    I think you need a bottom-up focus with an initial message from the’top. “Ok, here’s what this is and here’s what it’s for. Now run with it.” Participation from the top is important to. “I will be putting monthly numbers, etc. on the site and look forward to you comments…”

    I believe that’s how you get attention from ‘immigrants’ holding onto what’s safe. (don’t like the immigrant/native thing either because I’m an anomaly)

    I was talking to the learning technologies leader over at JetBlue Airlines. To make their social platform easier to use they had to get over the authentication process so that they could go the SSO route.

    After having facilitated a couple of networks that died, I can tell you if it’s an extra signon you’ve got a problem. If there’s nothing to do, you’ve got a problem. If the people that matter to the community are not participating, you’ve got a problem. And culture…it must be open. One way to seed the thing is to put work process stuff in there (like stuff that people would only get from email). If the user group are heavy email users, you’ll want to make sure there are notifications prompting them to go back to the environment.

    Good luck. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes.

  2. Andrew Mitchell Says:

    Janet – love the top-down “run with it” approach you’ve suggested. And I couldn’t agree more on the sign-on issue. One more I’d add is ease of editing. It needs to be as easy as email. I’ve seen an otherwise enthusiastic group of researchers visibly disengage with a trial wiki when they saw wiki markup.

    Mick – I’m going to get an iPhone and I hadn’t had the same response to the plans – How about following up with a post giving a detailed analysis of the different Australian and US iPhone contract offers? *grin*

  3. Mick Leyden Says:

    @Janet – Thanks for the tips, I will be keeping them in mind over the next few weeks as we get into the roll out phase.

    Single Sign On is something we are implementing for our wiki but the conference social network is not going to have it. I’m REALLY hopping this does not prove to be too much of a barrier. I would have liked it but for a 3 – 4 week long initiative, it’s difficult to justify the development work. For longer term initiatives SSO is a must!

    @Andrew – agree on the ‘as easy as email front’. Even having a simple yet foreign looking interface will prove to be a barrier.

    Re: the iPhone. I’ve not looked at the data charges for the US but the rates here are over the top! That said I have just been pointed to the Optus $59 cap (+$7 a month for the phone) that gives you $300 calls and 500 mb data, that’s not too bad, but I still have double the data and the same calls on my plan with 3.

    So to clarify my initial point, Telstra and Vodafone’s plans are a Joke! Optus has a couple that aren’t too bad. 🙂

    Although I still reckon the iPhone is missing several important features(good camera, swappable battery, ability to act as modem, Bluetooth A2DP support)…

    End of iPhone rant 🙂


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