Today I facilitated what I believe to be the first-ever User Generated Presentation at The Human Web CapCHI workshop in Ottawa. The idea behind it was to bring the principles of social media to the traditional presentation format – rather that having me (or anyone else) arbitrarily decide what information the audience required on the topic of social media, I let them pull what they wanted.
In planning the session, I reached out to a group I belong to called The Social Media Collective. (This was also one of the questions asked today, “What is the SMC?” The answer is, and I quote, “A diverse group of bloggers, consultants, investors, entrepreneurs, journalists, and analysts who represent the web’s best thinking on social media, marketing and Web 2.0” It’s basically an online club for people interested in social media). Interest within the SMC was high, and I got some great suggestions from Susan Scrupski, David Tebbutt, Dennis McDonald, Tom Mandel and Brian Solis, which I incorporated into the presentation:
1. Don’t start with PowerPoint, because that will get the group into passive mode.
2. Use a collaborative tool to record the session.
3. Don’t forget to cover the basics. (actually, I used this as a backup, borrowing a list of questions Brian had posted on his blog in case the conversation stalled; we didn’t actually get to those).
The session went well – unfortunately, the technology choice was not ideal, and didn’t allow for multiple real-time authors (people kept getting dumped out, and found it fairly frustrating). Nonetheless, the enthusiasm level for the concept was very high – rather than standing at the front of the room, I wandered with a wireless mic and passed the hand-held around. There were many times (as I had hoped) that participants answered questions themselves; I liked it best when I passed the mic directly from one person to another – I felt more like a facilitator than a talking head.
The major presentation issue was around the technology, that it didn’t serve the purpose intended (as a method of recording important data covered during the session) and also that I didn’t refer to it enough – lots of questions were posted there. Eventually, people stopped using it (what was recorded is posted here), and fellow-presenter, the excellent Peter Merholz stepped in. As we discussed specific things (OpenID, SunSilk’s Wig Out viral video, Wiki Patterns, etc.) he kept pace with us and brought the sites up on the projector. This was very cool, and will be incorporated future UGPs.
Overall, I think the thing that amazed me most was the enormous volume of information that was exchanged – we covered so, so much more than we could have if I had simply stood at the front and dictated, largely because we leveraged our collective intelligence and curiosity, since discovery is as much about the questions as the answers.
I’ve given everyone who attended the link to this blog, and am hoping we can continue the discussion here. Further to that, I’m posting below a bunch of the questions we didn’t get to, and I’ll do my best to answer them:
Do you have examples of companies using social networks to improve communication and collaboration inside large, and distributed organizations?
IBM would be probably the best-known example of a very large company using social media inside to improve communications, but there are lots of others. Big Blue has internal blogs that team members can use to communicate their expertise and share information about different projects. In a recent Edelman PR study, 34% of the 75 Fortune 500 companies surveyed had forums, groups or message boards on their Intranets.
What are the most effective ways to draw people to a new blog?
There are a couple of ways to approach this – but they both revolve around the same principle: you have to have interesting content, for, “If it is boring, they will not come” (I just quoted myself on that one). So, you can do a little blogger outreach, connect with the community of interest that you’d like to join, and let them know you’re there and that they might be interested in what you’re doing. Or, you can let things grow organically like a “real” blogger – linking to other blogs, participating in the community, and letting interested parties find you. Actually, no matter whether you market your blog or not, you still need to participate in the community via links and comments. It really depends on your need for speed – the outcome will probably be the same in most cases since success is determined by the quality and timeliness of your content and participation.
Doug: asked how to leverage web 2.0 for companies to make money?
That’s a big question, Doug – and in our work we find that most of our clients are really interested in adding value to what they’re already doing to make money, rather than establishing a social media-based business model.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in our experiment, and the proof will be in the pudding – I will post the evaluation scores from the event once they’re in.