Archive for “December, 2007”

Selling Enterprise 2.0 – do as I say, not as I do

By Heather Angus-Lee

Imagine working at a global leader in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software that makes and markets software enabling employee collaboration for streamlined business processes. It must be one highly efficient, “Enterprise 2.0” workplace, right? Umm, not at all: I worked there, up until the last month of 2006.

Within said company, the staff sent content to each other by email (content saved in various versions on individuals’ drives), or even dropped hard-Rob Clark illustrationcopy off on their desks. They produced software for virtual team meetings and project collaboration of staff anywhere in the world… but strictly restricted their laptop-and-IM-enabled employees from telecommuting.

With no wiki, blog or effective intranet in place, things ran amuck, regularly, with tangled lines of communication; the North American hand couldn’t follow the European hand, the wheel got reinvented… I think you get the picture. (Shoemaker’s kids wear no shoes.)

This irony did not escape the attention of worker bees like me in the global marketing department, responsible for packaging, with pretty words and pictures, the company’s expensive and elaborate ECM solutions (including its spawn, BPM, CCM, KM, DM, etc.)

In fact, one fellow writer took our “shoeless” situation the hardest: Her previous employer was a buyer of these ECM solutions, and she lamented losing the very collaborative tools she now wrote about.

“Tell me again about the document versioning feature,” I’d implore her as I struggled to keep track of the rewrite notes of five executives on the same brochure copy. (And what, really, could be better for ‘doc versioning’ than a wiki!? Encouragingly, the month I was leaving, the company began working on its first, small, non-obligatory wiki for employees so they could share best practices.)

These days my boss at Social Media Goup is talking with another huge enterprise software provider that really wants to be at the Enterprise 2.0 party – maybe even host it. This new client is looking at us to provide strategy and research around how they can leverage social media to improve communications and collaboration among their vast, global staff.

It’s a trend we expect to see gain momentum in 2008: the corporate world’s desire to adopt the power of social media beyond the outward-facing promotion/public relations function, and turn it inward for equally impressive productivity results.

OK, so Enterprise 2.0 is not sexy – or not as sexy as, say, reaching out to the coolest bloggers and Facebook group leaders to jaw about your product/service. But it does bring your coworkers together for free thinking and innovation not currently possible on a day-to-day basis. Enterprise 2.0 is the most powerful way to manage unpredictable (and hugely productive) things that happen on the job.

Get this (office) party started…!

Cartoon credit: Rob Clark

Media in Canada year-end thinktank

It was my distinct pleasure to be included in the list of individuals asked by Terry Poulton of Media in Canada for their opinion about the biggest emergent digital trends for 2007 and what they see ahead for ’08. Under the heading, “Privacy Will be a Big Issue in ’08″ I touched on everything from Facebook’s Beacon fiasco to why we need to think carefully about what we’re measuring when we gather social media metrics. For the full story in all its opinionated glory, click here.

The spoils of social media go to those who wait

My friend Paul Gillin has published a brief but thoughtful article in B to B magazine about the misconceptions around social media vs. traditional ad and communications campaigns. It’s available in the print version of the magazine, and also online. We spoke about an interesting experience SMG had in our early days of business, expanding on a conversation that we had during our panel discussion at Blogworld Expo in early November:

Welcome to the new world of marketing, in which tried-and-true concepts such as “campaign” no longer apply. In an online environment in which customers expect to have a relationship with brands and in which search engines insure that content never dies, a successful campaign may run for months or even years. It’s a nice problem to have, but it means changing the way you think.

You can read Paul’s complete article here.

SNCR Boston

I had the pleasure this past week of attending the Society for New Communications Research symposium in Boston, spending a little over 12 hours first listening to some of the best minds in the business talk about their work and research as it relates to social media, and then enjoying an entertaining and energizing dinner with a wonderful group of bloggers and others – some I already knew, some I didn’t, and all of whom I look forward to catching up with again.

A small selection of highlights from the Society for New Communications Research Symposium (aka SNCR, pron. “snicker”) in Boston last week:

  1. The Red Cross has a Twitter profile – they only have 126 followers and update infrequently, but there is real potential here
  2. Joseph Carrabis, CRO and Founder, NextStage Evolution/NextStage Global, points out that you cannot tell how engaged someone is by content based on how they interact with it – interest is a cognitive event (i.e. it occurs in the brain) and can not be measured by clicks or pageviews
  3. Also in the same session, Carrabis notes that if you want to predict the future, look to economically sustainable (i.e. cheap) technology that puts power in the most people’s hands. That is the history of technological evolution.

There was also a very interesting (and seriously top-notch) panel discussion with a bunch of big-business social media types including Chris Barger of GM, reps from Sun, Dell and Coca-Cola.

The topic that seemed to engage the audience most was the way in which Coke (eventually) leveraged the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment video created by Eepy Bird. In his presentation, the gentleman from Coke pretty much glossed over the fact that the company’s initial response clearly indicated they had no understanding of the power and value of the video and excitement it generated, focusing instead on their subsequent efforts to engage. I asked him about what it had taken Coke to get from dismissive to directly involved, it would have been an interesting perspective on the issues facing large, less-than-nimble companies. However, his answer contained mostly platitudes and excuses, which was a bad move with the SNCR audience. Follow-up questions were tough, as the SNCR Twitter stream documents, though some came to the company’s defence. Too bad Coke guy couldn’t have been a little more transparent, his honesty would have been valuable and appreciated.

The closer for the event was Shel Israel’s presentation of preliminary results from the SAP Global Social Media survey, commissioned by Mike Prosceno, VP of Marketplace Communications for SAP [full disclosure: SAP is a client]. Complete survey contents will be released via Shel’s blog. While it was interesting to learn about the process and hear anecdotes, I am looking forward to diving a little deeper into the data to get some real insight over the next few weeks and months.

Finally, the capper for the day’s events was a blogger dinner, attended by Bryan Person, Shel Israel, Chip Griffin, Stephen Voltz (from Eepy Bird – generally referred to as the “Diet Coke and Mentos Guy” – he’s the one wearing the goggles in the videos), Laura Athavale Fitton (aka Pistachio), Michael Krigsman, David Parmet and Phil Gomes. Paul Gillen and Sarah Wurrey also hung out with us for awhile. It was a great time, and most of us Twittered all through dinner, though laptops on the table were discouraged. I count myself very lucky to have made some new friends – and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

The SNCR’s next event is the much larger New Communications Forum in Sonoma, which is now very much on my radar. Hope to see you there!

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Bryan Person

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Shel Israel

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Shel Israel, Chip Griffen, Stephen Voltz

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Laura Fitton, aka Pistachio

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David Parmet

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Phil Gomes

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Photo credits: David Parmet and Phil Gomes

When is a blog not a blog? When it doesn't allow commenting

By Heather Angus-Lee

I’ve been working under the assumption that a blog is only a blog if it lets readers post comments/questions. But spending a whack of time researching the blogosphere as one of our company’s social media analysts, I occasionally stumble across “blogs” that I don’t think deserve that label. Apparently, by the strictest definition of the word (i.e. Web + log) a blog can be just that: an online journal, no way to write in the margins of the logbook. All talk, no action.

Hmm. No comments = no conversation, that’s what I think. I mean, what is a comment-less blog but a glorified electronic brochure?

Speaking of which… I read in Media in Canada about student blogs of the University of Manitoba launched recently for the purpose of recruiting new students. Cool, I think, and go to check it out.

Oops, these are not “blogs”, but rather testimonials from 17 students in 13 faculties, beautifully packaged and carefully written. “It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to go to school!” “First year is terrific!” .. you get the point. Glowing endorsements and squeaky clean anecdotes. What they don’t have is:

  • Comments, trackbacks, or any form of feedback.
  • Any contact info – nary an email.
  • An invite from the school’s blog network to would-be bloggers (as I’ve seen done by other schools, such as the University of Western Ontario).
  • Any links to a Facebook group, Twitter account, YouTube video, MySpace page… isn’t this kind of social media and networking what college-age kids are all about??

Hey, if the University for Manitoba wants to run online testimonials, at least they could use a more hip format, such as the videos of students at Seneca College. (Alas, you can’t talk back to a video, but it beats static words and photos!)

To see a real student blog, check out the musings of this computer science student at the University of Waterloo. And he’s got the metrics (traffic, number of comments, volume of incoming links) to prove it!