Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Avoiding flying upside down

11 May, 2011

I’m a big fan of the the West Wing, my wife and I must have watched it from beginning to end at least five times. It probably should come as no surprise then that after some reflection on what is going on at work this quote from the West Wing popped onto my head:

I was telling Josh Lyman about a friend who just got his pilot’s license. He told me the most remarkable thing. He said a new pilot will fly into cloud cover. There’ll be no visibility. And they’ll check their gauges, they’ll look at the artificial horizon, it’ll show them level, but they won’t trust it. So, they’ll make an adjustment and then another and another… He said the number of new pilots who fly out of clouds completely upside-down would knock you out. My office will make arrangements for me to endorse you in the morning. You keep your eyes on the horizon, Mr. President.

Three years ago we set out to create an environment where our members were connected to each other through series of communities of practice. These would enable them to share ideas, collaboratively solve problems and create opportunities to learn from each other. The problem is in recent months I haven’t been thinking about social learning or communities of practice, I’ve been thinking about technology platforms,  social media, marketing and brand exposure and building an audience. As a result while a little progress has been made on the  original goal it is not nearly as much as I expected by now.

How did I end up completely inverted?

Just like the pilots in the West Wing there has been not any single event that caused me to make an abrupt change in direction, instead it has been a series of tiny corrections as key staff left, new staff arrived and priorities shifted. This happens in all businesses all the time and these subtle shifts can be incredibly damaging; unlike when a conscious decision to change direction is made, we often think we’re still heading the direction we were originally. Because each shift is so small and often unrelated to the previous shift we don’t implement the controls that we do when we make a decision to go down a completely different path; simply because we often haven’t realised we are on a different path!

The only constant in any organisation is change, which means trying to achieve a long term goal is going to take persistence and commitment but more importantly it requires the team driving the change to keep their eyes on the horizon and ensure that the subtle shifts which are made to accommodate changing circumstances do not push them off course completely. If they do see this happening, they must stop and make time to question the new direction, the impact it will have on the old objectives, whether or not the original objectives should still be pursued and if they should; how will they be achieved in the new environment.

Why oh why?!

12 November, 2008

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging holiday of late, it has not been planned I’ve just not been able to think of anything interesting to say. That changed this morning when I read Sean O’Driscoll’s post Why is “Why?” still the most under appreciated question? This was one of those wonderful serendipitous moments when the internet was thinking exactly what I’ve been thinking lately.

Sean’s post talks about asking Who, What When, Where, Why and How when planning for social media projects. He makes the point that of all of those questions often the why is forgotten.

Throughout 2008 our team has managed to build a fair bit of excitement throughout our business around the potential for social type technologies.  We spent the first half of this year trying to convincince stakeholders of the value of letting go of some of the control we hold over our cotent and getting our customers involved. It seems we have done a pretty good job of that as ideas have been flowing thick and fast.

The strange thing is now I find myself putting the breaks on many ideas that are put forward. In meetings I’m saying things, like ‘just because we can doesn’t mean we should’, ‘why will people take time to contribute to this project?’ and ‘what tangible benifits will users take away from the interaction?’

Perhaps I have become a bit of a pessimist over the last few months but I get the feeling that if a social project is going to be successful it must tap into a group’s passion and if it can’t do that it must address a very real and pressing need.

In his post Sean recommends asking the following questions in the project planning planning phase:

  • Why:  Define your purpose
  • What:  What are the business objectives
  • Who:  Define your audience and/or segmentation
  • How:  How do our users do it today (whatever you define it is in the why question)
  • Where:  Inventory where users are going today
  • What:  What are the interactions we need to enable to improve the experience
  • What:  What systems and processes do we need to integrate with
  • What:  What technology and tools are necessary to support this effort
  • How:  How will we know it’s succeeding
  • What:  What are the success measures
  • Who:  Who are the internal stakeholders
  • Who:  Who are the key people and organizations we need to get engaged / participating?
  • What:  What are our policies and/or guidelines to govern internal participation?
  • When:  Define the project timeline
  • How:  How much is it going to cost (to execute AND sustain)

I reckon this is a great list, if you can have a solid answer to each of these you’re well on the right track for success. My only addition would be to split the ‘Why; into two parts.

  • Why: Define the purpose for implementing the project from the organisation’s perspective
  • Why: Define the purpose for interacting with the project from a users perspective.

Teaching social media

28 October, 2008

In the last two weeks I attended two Social Media conference sessions at CPA Congress in Melbourne. The first was run by Micheal Axelsen and was called “Facebook, Myspace, YouTube & Flickr – managing and leaveraging the business impact of social networking sites”, the second was run by Keith De La Rue and was called “Effective organisational communication – blending traditional and Web2.0 techniques.”

Micheal’s session focused on managing the risks social media can pose to business and individual users when they are not paying attention. He provided a range of practical tips for keeping you and your brand safe online.  You can view the slide pack here.

Keith’s session was much broader, he looked at some ‘old skool’ communication techniques and strategies and contrasted them with their 2.0 equivalents. Interestingly I found myself writing loads of notes during the traditional tools section; it can often be very helpful to look back in order to look froward.

Both sessions in their own right were great but I looked around the room in both and saw a few blank faces, I don’t think this was the fault of either Micheal or Keith. I do reckon the conference producers could help by tweaking the program.  Micheal’s session was in the first week, Keith’s was that the end of the second, I don’t think there were any other delegates who attended both sessions. This meant that both Micheal and Keith had to spend time defining what many of the social media tools actually are. If your going to be organising training or a conference that will feature workshops on social media for newbies here is my proposed flow.

Workshop 1: What is Social Media and why should you care about it?

Spend this session focusing on why businesses should be interested in what Social Media can offer and provide an overview of the tools that they can utilise. (Keith covered a fair bit of this)

Workshop 2: Why are you going to get into Social Media?

Workshop to help participants identify the needs they are going to try to meet through social media

Workshop 3: How do you make it work?

This what Keith covered in his session this session would techniques for successful implementations, learning from ‘old skool’ projects and other social implementations.

Workshop 4: Being social and Safe

This is what Micheal covered, this is all about making sure that when you do engage with the interweb using social media, you don’t fall into some of hte traps many others have.

My point – tweak the program so that related sessions can flow from one to another and in the marketing, highlight the links between sessions.

…that said how many accountants are likely to go to four three hour sessions on social media?

Just be upfront!

15 October, 2008

I logged in this morning to find this gem in the comments on my post from yesterday.

Hi Michael,
congratulation for that makes some good points, particularly about single sign-on, preservation of data and synergy about tools.

Hmmm well thanks… First off my blog says Mick everywhere, where did he get Michael from? (I only get called that by my Mum when I am in trouble –  yes Mum still pulls that one out! 🙂 ), although he may have been talking to Michael Axelsen who also commented on the post.

Second, most of the time when people comment they write some thoughts on the issue which is great! Congratulating us on making some good points is a little odd but hey, the internet caters to all types.

Here is kicker, when I click on the name of the commenter it directs to me to their website, which lo and behold is a social media platform vendor!

Come on people! If you’re flogging social media surely you know you have to be more transparent than that! Just have a look at NAB’s efforts to see how it can go wrong! (Hat tip to Steve Collins for the link). Why not just say ‘Hey Mick, we have a platform we think is really great, do you want to talk to us?’. If your product is that good I’m not going to be able to say no am I?

Don’t be sneaky! Have a nice day all.

Now that’s a strategy!

16 September, 2008

Hat tip to my Colleague Alex Dalidakis for this one:.

and this one from Patrick Lambe at the Green Chameleon:

Happy Tuesday All. 🙂

Why will they come?

4 July, 2008

In thinking about my question from Tuesday I found myself thinking about two words: value and barriers.

Value is a word I have blogged about quite a lot over the past few months, I have a tendency to talk about the need to articulate a clear value proposition. We have conducted a lot of research that tells us that our audience are interested, they want to connect, they want to be able to learn from each other. But will they truly value this ability? Will access to a pool of people working in a similar industry, facing similar problems be enough to distract someone from the work they are doing and go online? Will their employers allow them time to get online to connect?

I believe we need to figure out how will users extract value from these applications. They say they want it, but how are they going to use it, and what impact will it have on the way they work? If we can figure these things out at least in fairly general terms, we go a long way to achieving that goal of articulating a clear value proposition.

In order to figure this out I’ll go back to some market research that was done early this year (it seems a long time ago now) and refresh myself with what our customers said to us.

Second I’ll put a survey out to those already participating in our existing social media initiatives. I’m not sure how many responses we’ll get but it seems to have worked for Jeremiah Owyang so we might as well give it a try.

Third I’ll get out and speak to the audience face o face. When I spend so much time communicating online it is very easy to forget how valuable a discussion with a real person can be.

With all of that hopefully I come up with a few clear points that our customers can relate to, or is this an impossible task? Do I just have to put it out there and see what happens?

Next up -thoughts on barriers to adoption….

Early Adopters and the ‘Second Wave’

1 July, 2008

I’ve had a bunch of thoughts to do with encouraging social media adoption and community building swirling around in my head of late. Mostly they have been driven by my current work situation. As I mentioned a week or so ago, we secured our wiki agreement and are moving into the content / community phase. We’re also moving into this phase on the conference social network project I have been working on. This means I’m hitting a rather scary time, I’m moving out of the familiarity (and boringness – I know it isn’t a word but I am going with it!) of IT system evaluation and selection and charging into the neverland that is online community building.

I’ve got a few ideas about how to go about it, but these are based off experience building a sense of team in a training room; I get the feeling online will be a very different beast. Interestingly ( I love it when the web does this) @NathanealB posted recently on the importance of early adopters. This post has stayed with me as the early adopters are the people I need to engage with right now!

Following that post I discovered Michelle Martin’s post on ‘the second wave’. I really like this phrase as it sums up the people we will be trying to engage with very soon. If we get the second wave of users involved we start to be able to offer real value. The early adopters are great but we want to build a financial knowledge sharing community, the pool of early adopters in our very specific niche just isn’t big enough! We need the next wave to get involved to make our community viable in the long term.

Michelle finishes her post by asking how we engage with these people, I might have a think about this and put some thoughts up tomorrow.

Social Media in Plain English

3 June, 2008

I really like CommonCraft’s videos they have produced some great short sharp explanations of new and emerging tools. Their latest effort aims to explain the rise and rise of social media… I reckon they have done a good job!

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