Archive for “August, 2008”

Picking an internal collaboration tool – Who's on your list?

Before I begin, I need to start out with two little housekeeping items:

  1.  This is my first blog post.  I’m not telling you so you’ll take it easy on me, I’m telling you because it’s a special day for me and I felt compelled to acknowledge it.
  2. I’m a project manager at SMG and as far as jobs are concerned I think I got one of the good ones.  I get to work in an industry I’m passionate about, with one of the leading firms and the most innovative clients.  The best part is that it will only get better from here.

OK, now moving on to what I actually wanted to write about…Picking an internal collaboration tool.  Even though I have been working in an industry which is anchored around online communities and relationships, I never had to go through the process of picking out and internal collaboration tool.

This is because I started my online community career working for two different vendors.  Both of them offered great tools which worked well inside and outside the firewall.  So there you have it, internal collaboration crisis solved.

Back to the present – at Social Media Group we have outgrown our current solution and being a remote worker myself, finding a new one is a priority.  For starters, I found some definitions and lists I like on Jeremiah Owyang’s posts on collaboration and white label social network.  Turns out there are more than two vendors out there!  I don’t even know what it is I’m looking for; solutions range from project management tools, to shared docs, CRMs, wikis, communities, spaces.  You name it and it’s out there!

Now what do I do?  Like any normal person, I asked my friends on Twitter.  Unfortunately all that did was broaden my list and confirm that the majority of these tools are good enough.  So, I applied our own best practices, took a step back and instead of focusing on the technologies I focused on our objectives and requirements.  I tried answering the question, “what does internal collaboration mean to SMG?“  Let me tell you how hard that is, without a good tool!  In any case, we got it and were ready to pick from what was still an incredibly long list.  I scratched some names off by asking questions I borrowed from Groundswell’s section on evaluating new technologies.  This is slightly a different context, but some of them still applied, like; “does it shift power to the employees?”, “does it make it easy to generate enough content?” and “does it integrate with other tools I’m using?”

OK, but my list is still too long.

That’s when it hit me.  This isn’t about the tool or even about the requirements (OK, it’s a little bit about the tools and little bit about the requirements…but there’s more.)  Making this decision is about committing my time and my company’s data to one vendor; who can I make such a commitment to?

Here are the new questions I began to ask:

  1. Does the company have an active blog?
  2. Who blogs?  Does the company allow different kinds and levels of employees to represent them?
  3. Are they on Twitter?  As a company?  As employees?
  4. Do they monitor their brand online?  If I post something about them, will they hear me and tell me they did?
  5. Do they provide a place for people like me to connect?  A developer forum?  A practitioner community?  I need to know what others are doing with the product.
  6. Do they listen to their customers?  Are they active in their own communities?  If I have suggestions on features, will they honestly listen?  If not, will they tell me why not?
  7. Do they make their roadmap visible?
  8. Could I ever reach a C level executive if I needed to?
  9. Are they really thought leaders or just trying to sell me something?

…and like any good list, this can basically be summed into one point – Do they practice what they preach?

Finally, a short list of options!  How did you make your choice?

World's Largest Social Media Agency? Not this time.

Today I have the unfortunate task of announcing that the acquisition of Livingston Communications will not be taking place as planned.

The next question, is, of course – why? Frankly, it’s cultural. We dotted our i’s, crossed our t‘s and started working together as a team while the lawyers finished up the paperwork. It was during this time that Geoff and I both realized that, while similar, our organizations and management styles were very different, and that integration would not be in the best interests of both firms. I have the utmost respect of Geoff and his team, which is why it was so important for us to make this tough decision now rather than later, when the stakes would be so much higher.

There was a lot of excitement around news of the prospective merger, and there will likely be a lot more around the fact that it isn’t happening. We could have quietly avoided the fallout of the decision not to proceed with the partnership and ridden the early publicity, but we both figure it’s better to do the right thing for our businesses, be transparent about it, and move on.

To everyone who lauded the evolution of the industry and joined us in our exuberance, thank you so much for your support, and we’re sorry to disappoint. However, our decision not to proceed is in no way a reflection on the health or viability of social media as an industry – it’s simply about doing the right thing for everyone involved, and being honest about it.

Geoff has also put up a vlog post about today’s announcement, you can check it out here.

September Toronto Girl Geek Dinner Looking for a Sponsor

ggd.pngThe next Toronto Girl Geek Dinner is scheduled for September 10th at Fionn McCool’s (University and Adelaide) and our guest speaker is Sandi Jones,

Sandi’s career in IT and network technology began when she discovered her inner geek in the 90′s and made a drastic career change from performing arts to technology. Within a few years, she was a recognized technical expert, leading teams that built what is now Allstream’s nationwide Internet network. She also improved a large bank’s technology, and developed next generation IT services.

Which is a round-about way of saying that the Internet? In Canada? Sandi helped engineer the backbone for it.

cmij1113925107-719225.jpgIf you’d like to join us to hear this female Canadian technology pioneer speak about how businesses are adopting consumer technologies,reversing the historic trend of business technologies trickling down to consumers and how tools like instant messaging, social media, collaboration and user-generated content to bring the creativity of today’s tech-savvy consumers into the world of business, then please sign up at the TGGD wiki – spaces are limited!

One final matter of important housekeeping – as usual, TGGDs are looking for a sponsor to at least pick up the cost of the PA system and ideally pick up the dinner tab for at least 10 female technology students to attend. It’s a worthy cause and in return you will receive logo placement on the TGGD website as well as the opportunity to say a few words the night of the event. If you’re interested in finding out more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact me at maggie [at] socialmediagroup [dot] ca by August 22nd.

Hope to see you there!

SMG is Looking for The Best Office Manager in the World!

Here’s the description, deadline for applications is August 25th, 2008 and they can be sent to kevin.dekock [at] socialmediagroup.com. You can download a pdf of the job description here. Only the super-organized and supremely confident need apply!

smg_logo_small_onwhite.jpg

Location:
Dundas, Ontario

About the Company

Social Media Group is the world’s largest independent agency helping business navigate the new socially engaged Web.

It’s a cool time to be us – we’re breaking new ground every day and working with some of the largest and best-known names in North America, helping them understand the power of social media and the benefits of transforming communications from dictation to dialogue.

Our relatively current client list is here: http://socialmediagroup.com/clients/

SMG HQ is located in a restored 1830’s commercial building in Dundas, Ontario, which is approximately 45 minutes from downtown Toronto and well-connected by rail.

There’s a reason we’re located in this amazing (affordable, diverse, historic, creative, quiet, family-friendly, green and beautiful) community. Candidates contacted for interviews will have the opportunity to discover this for themselves – we only ask that you don’t tell anyone else!

Who we’re looking for:
We’re seeking to lay the groundwork for continued sustainable growth. With a distributed workforce, we need someone who is an administrative genius to help us implement systems and processes across the organization that ensure timely and appropriate billing and invoicing, supplier vetting and management and control of admin and operations costs, among other things. This position reports to the Director of Operations, and is ideally suited to someone with a number of years of office administration experience who is looking for a new and exciting challenge.

Potential candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
* Entrepreneurial spirit
* Good oral and written communication skills
* Reliability
* Initiative
* Problem-solving skills
* Project management ability
* Minimum 3-5 years previous office management experience
* Demonstrated ability to manage time effectively
* Be able to operate under pressure and meet deadlines
* Comfort with technology: excellent Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email, Internet skills
* Experience with business finance and reporting requirements
* Experience in identifying, vetting and managing suppliers

Responsibilities:
* Designing and implementing administrative processes as required
* Liaising with members of the senior management team
* Keeping personnel records across several locations
* Payroll administration and management across the organization
* Organizing the recruitment of new staff
* Controlling the office budget
* Managing new account set up, process and flow
* Cash flow, AP/AR Management and reporting.
* Supervising the implementation of new office systems
* Supplier/supplier record management
* Arranging travel and supporting the CEO’s administrative requirements from time to time
* Occasional travel required

Qualifications:
* Proven on-the-job experience (3-5 years)
* References required

Only those selected for interviews will be contacted. Thanks!

What do I do?

Originally posted at eimaj.net on July 4, 2008.

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conversationSince moving to Hamilton and starting a new job I’ve been getting the “So.. What is it you do exactly?” question quite a bit. Put simply, I participate in online conversations… Broken down to its core, social media is that simple.

I’ve read some very long winded explanations, watched some videos and read a few books, but it all boils down to the conversation. A lot of people reference tools that are used, but the tools simply enable us to participate and they are constantly changing and evolving. For example, just the other day Identi.ca was released. It is an open source clone of Twitter, the popular micro-blogging tool, and only two days after its release some have claimed Twitter is dead.

It is important to remember though, social media, like a conversation, is two sided. In order to participate you must talk and listen.

Think about a social network like Myspace. Let’s imagine a band you like sends out an email every day talking about how great they are. It would probably make you think a little less of the band, wouldn’t it? Nobody likes being talked at.

Now, what if that same band sent you a message when they were planning a tour and were looking for suggestions for good venues to play at across the country. They’re not just talking anymore, they’re conversing… This is what it’s all about and the Internet and online tools are making it more and more accessible.

If you are curious and would like to know more, I would recommend checking out the Common Craft Show. They have all kinds of videos about the various tools and elements of social media all explained in “plain english.” I usually like to direct people to Common Craft and hook them up with a few videos and then go off and do something else for a while.

On that note… here’s some links to videos, I have some birthday parties to attend. Have a great weekend!