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Why I Like Buzzwords (Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Social Media, etc.)

Via Annie Mole on Flickr

Via Annie Mole on Flickr

UK-based The Register has an article out, They used ‘em, you reeled: the year’s most overused phrases. The article lists “tech terms that were so overused and misapplied during the last 12 months that they began to lose their meaning.” Included in the list?

  • The cloud
  • Web 2.0
  • Enterprise 2.0
  • Software as a service
  • Agile
  • Green

Then I saw this tweet from Lawrence Liu of Telligent:

I hope “social media” & “Web/Enterprise 2.0″ die as way too overloaded buzzwords in 2009. As New Yr reso, I’ll try to avoid using them.

To which Gia Lyons of Jive Software tweeted:

@LLiu I’m with you re the death of “social media” & E/W 2.0 buzzwords. I’m not gonna use ‘em either.

I get the sentiment, getting away from the overselling of benefits and hype associated with these terms. But man, at this rate, we’re not going to have any words left to describe Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, social media, or anything.

So What Terms Do We Use?

If we stop using terms like ‘Enterprise 2.0′, what would be the replacement(s)? Here’s what Lawrence thought:

@karitas Use real terms like team, community, Facebook, sharing, commenting, rating, discussing. :-)

Cannot disagree with Lawrence here. Those all are valuable terms. But I wonder how he meant this? Have people been using buzzwords in lieu of those?

  • “We need to get the enterprise 2.0 team together to collaborate”
  • “Let’s put this idea out into our social media community to see what they think”
  • “When employees are web 2.0-ing discussing ideas, make sure the record is accessible everywhere”

What those silly examples show is that there are plenty of points where you shouldn’t use buzzwords. I’m not convinced that people have been abusing the language that badly though.

There are two good reasons that those buzzwords should continue to be part of Lawrence and Gia’s vocabulary in 2009.

Buzzwords Provide Context and Findability

The first reason buzzwords have value is context. When I say ‘Enterprise 2.0′, I’m standing on the shoulders of others who have been working in the field for some time. It’s short hand for:

  • Employees are better off when they can find more content that colleagues create, not less
  • Workers can offer much more value than being just the cog they were hired for
  • People from different locations and units should be able to work together far more easily than they do
  • Companies’ culture needs to be open to empowering employees to drive and critique what’s happening internally
  • Adoption is an ongoing work-in-progress as employees shed old ways of thinking about sharing their contributions

Yup, I get the benefit of those connotations when I say ‘Enterprise 2.0′. You know I’m not talking about CRM or accounting software.

The second reason buzzwords are valuable is they increase findability of content and people. As I’ve written before, I’m tracking the Enterprise 2.0 industry by following specific people (such as Lawrence and Gia) on FriendFeed, plus people who are using terms related to Enterprise 2.0. That’s the whole premise of the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed.

If people wholesale stop using buzzwords, the ability to find others with common interests reduces dramatically. When some one writes or tags with ‘Enterprise 2.0′, ‘e2.0′ or ‘social software’, it’s pretty clear what their subject is. But if someone interested in social software inside the enterprise decides to only use terms like ‘Facebook’ or ‘sharing’, they will never be found. To see what I mean, here are Twitter searches for those terms:

Facebook

Sharing

Good luck figuring out who is talking about the enterprise in those results.

When Change Comes, It Will Be Organic, Not Declared

There is a time and place for usage of buzzwords, and it’s possible the language has been abused. But that doesn’t mean you throw the baby out with the bath water. Smart people can discern when to use a buzzword for what they mean, and when to use something more specific (or generic, as the case may be).  I have yet to be troubled by irresponsible use of these terms.

That’s not to say things won’t change. People will use terms like ‘social media’ and ‘Enterprise 2.0′ until better, more descriptive terms emerge. Those new terms will make sense, and will provide the context someone needs when they use them. Right now, our buzzwords fit that bill.

Besides, if we couldn’t simply say ‘Enterprise 2.0′, what would we say?

Software-that-lets-employees-contribute-from anywhere-and-make-it-accessible-to-all-to-improve-a-company’s-ability-to-know-what-it-knows-and-which-requires-a-strong-employees-are-more-than-cogs-culture

I’ll take brevity on this one.

*****

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The Drudge Report Meets Twitter: The TCOT Report

tcot-report

The Republican revolution will be tweeted…

I’m guessing you’ve not heard about the TCOT Report. I hadn’t until yesterday. It just started this month. But it got my attention, because it’s a really innovative use of Twitter for grass roots idea generation and discussions. Social media skeptics rail against the echo chamber of geeks talking to one another about how grand social media is. So when non-geeks start leveraging social media’s best characteristics to improve things, it warrants attention.

OK, so what is TCOT?

Top Conservatives on Twitter

At its core, TCOT is a site that tracks the top conservatives on Twitter. As TCOT founder Michael Leahy describes it:

This list was first placed on the web on November 28, 2008. In the short time since then, it has become a bit of a rallying point for conservatives on Twitter. I think all of us who are on the list can conceive of many additional ways to improve the list to strengthen and grow the conservative community on Twitter.

You must primarily tweet on conservative themes and cannot be merely a “campaign profile” “political office holder profile” or a “radio or television program or publication promotional profile” to be on this list. New participants are welcome. Just nominate someone you follow or yourself and show that you are primarily on Twitter as a conservative.

Hats off to Leahy on this. It appears anyone, not just those with authority, can be included in the list, so long as you talk conservative themes. Here are the top ten conservatives on Twitter right now:

tcot-top-ten

The list itself is a resource for other conservatives looking to find like-minded people on Twitter.

What I found interesting was the TCOT Report.

TCOT Report: Crowdsourced Drudge Report

Leahy has set up the TCOT Report to track the news, opinion and discussion around conservative principles and politics. The real-time element of the TCOT Report is a continuous stream of tweets based on the hashtag #TCOT. Anyone can join in, as they are using the Twitter search function for this. To confirm this, I did a #TCOT tweet. Sure enough, it showed up:

tcot-feedAnd I even got a reply from someone in the TCOT community. The site also includes links to various news articles, opinion pieces and blogs.

To really understand the import of this initiative, consider the Rush Limbaugh ditto-heads.

Grass Roots Conservatism

Rush Limbaugh has millions of listeners to his daily radio show. People who are interesting in the news, and have opinions about it. The “social media” experience of this was to listen to your radio at the same time as everyone else.

When it comes time for communicating with others, there are two online formats for that: email and forums. Both have their place. Email is a great way to direct an action campaign. Forums, such as lucianne.com,  are great for longer discussion threads where all comments are displayed. Twitter appears to occupy a third spot, with some overlap with those other two.

Twitter lets folks express major or minor points easily, without guilt or worrying about whether a forum thread will grow. The hash tag identifies both the message and the person. And Twitter lets everyone weigh in on the events of the day, establishing their own brand of conservatism through their series of tweets.

At its best, politics is a world based on ideas. The ability to put forth an idea and argue persuasively is a the basis for the presidential caucuses that Barack Obama did so well with.

Once the election is over, what’s a person to do with all these ideas and enthusiasm? Channel them into engaging your fellow philosophical travelers. And right now, the Republican Party is thinking hard about its next moves. Given the grassroots orientation of the party, use of social media to discuss and spread ideas seems like a terrific idea.

Michelle Malkin, the conservative commentator and Fox News personality, is a fan of TCOT:

And if you haven’t opened a Twitter account (or haven’t figured it out yet), make sure to join TCOT.

And so is former House Majority Leader Dick Armey:

#TCOT @michaelpleahy Great to see so many conservatives on Twitter. It’s clear why everyone at @FreedomWorks wants me to use this more.

Not bad for a site that’s been up for a few weeks so far.

The Live Real-Time Web Version of the Drudge Report

I imagine some readers of this blog don’t agree with the Republican Party. That’s not my point in writing about TCOT. What interests me is the way some basic social media tools are being used for potentially great effect.

Twitter? Never be mainstream. Hashtags? People can’t be bothered. Twitter search? Why would I want to read the garbage people write?

What TCOT is doing is showing the potential in these tools. It’s too early to tell how this initiative will turn out, but a quick scan of the #TCOT tweets shows a lot of interest in this. I suspect the Obama administration and Democratic Congress will give a lot of energy to the TCOT Report. No one will displace the Drudge Report, but adding the instant reaction, and multiple points of view on myriad subjects in real-time is something that has proven addictive elsewhere.

If nothing else, I’m glad to see the continuing experimentation with social media outside the geeksphere.

*****

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 122608

From the home office in the North Pole…

#1: Guy tweeting after the plane crash was amazing (http://bit.ly/w6d6). Instant news. My non-twittering wife’s reaction? Eye-roll, “why?”

#2: Are you a long form twitterer? I often hit 140+ characters in my tweets, and spend time cutting them back.

#3: @mediaphyter You’re right about Twitter making us more succinct. You know where I’m seeing it most? In my emails, of all things.

#4: Enterprise 2.0 question: How important is it that things go viral inside a company?

#5: Gartner Hype Cycle for Social Software Aug 2008 – full 50-page report: http://bit.ly/ZVf6 (pdf)

#6: Some really great pix of…parents throwing their kids in the air (http://bit.ly/N5ul). This is something I do w/ my 2 y.o. girl, need pix!

#7: Listening to 7 y.o. piano prodigy on NPR, Ethan Bortnick http://bit.ly/80LW Funny to hear accomplished piano w/ a little boy’s personality.

#8: TwitterCounter has a revenue model. You pay to be a featured user on their home page/twitter user stats pages. $130/week http://bit.ly/Ve6N

#9: Hey…conservative commentator/Fox personality Michelle Malkin is now tweeting. http://twitter.com/michellemal… And the bus keeps rollin’

#10: I now await my kids’ going to sleep, so my Santa duties can get underway. I’ve got a doll house and a race track to assemble.

*****

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2009 Prediction: As Social Connections Reduce, Keyword Tracking Increases

Via Army.mil on Flickr

Via Army.mil on Flickr

Let me ask you this:

How are you tracking keywords in various social media right now?

I’ll bet the most common answer is Google Alerts. Not bad, I subscribe to them too. But you’re missing so much in terms of content and people that will be of interest.

Let’s examine why keyword tracking will become more important in 2009.

Social Network Contraction

Peter Kim has a terrific post in which 14 luminaries in social media offer their predicitons for what will happen in 2009. Read the comments below for a common theme:

Peter Blackshaw: Some of us will join the Social Media equivalent of Weight Watchers, eager to trim the excess and rediscover a modicum of “don’t follow everything” discipline.

Chris Brogan: We’ll still have Facebook and Twitter, but the real interest will be in making targeted networks that aren’t “come one, come all.”

Charlene Li: Having thousands of friends becomes “so 2008″ and defriending becomes the hot new trend, driven by overwhelming rivers of newsfeeds.

Greg Verdino: Many consumers will scale back on both the number of accounts they maintain AND their number of so-called “friends” and “followers.”

Several predictions that people will dial back their personal social networks. I’m not sure which people have “thousands of friends”…seems like a peculiar Social Media Whale problem. But I think the sentiment is right. The experimentation of “hey, lets all be friends!” gives way to time management and strengthening relationships with fewer connections.

I’ve written about this before in Who Is Your Information Filter? There are those you follow for their acumen in finding useful information, and with whom you can bounce ideas and questions off.

But there is an issue with this as well…

Seek Out Non-Redundant Information

One risk of tightening up a social network is that diversity of information sources decreases. I love how these researchers from MIT, BU and NYU describe the value of diverse social networks:

Actors with structurally diverse social networks (networks rich in structural holes that link them to unconnected network neighborhoods) derive ‘information benefits’ from network structure because they are more likely to receive non-redundant information through network contacts.

Now if people are going to contract their social networks, what is the logical outcome for network diversity going to be? It’s going to reduce.

So here we have the tension of superior ‘information benefits’ from diverse social connections, and a desire to bring one’s social contacts down to Dunbar’s Number.

How to get the best of both? Keyword tracking.

Here’s what keyword tracking gives the back-to-basics social networker:

  1. Ability to leverage people outside one’s social network as sources of information on subjects you care about
  2. What topics have people buzzing
  3. New people to add, in a limited way, to one’s social network

Keyword tracking is a great way to get non-redundant information while staying in touch with the closest social connections you have. If you only receive information from the same old-same old, you will probably consume a lot of redundant information (aka the “echo chamber”).

I look forward to more movement on the notifications front. For instance, TechCrunch recently covered BackType’s keyword notifications functionality. Following an RSS feed of Twitter searches on topics will become a vital part of people’s information consumption. Personally, I’ve been loving the feed of tweets and Del.icio.us content related to social software in the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. Robert Scoble just set up his own ego tracking room on FriendFeed.

I wrote a post that described this phenomenon a few weeks ago, Follow Everything by a Select Few, Select Content by Everyone. The post included a poll asking people whether they will start using keyword notifications for tracking the world at large. 9 of 11 people said ‘yes’, they would. Let’s see how this plays out in 2009.

*****

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 121908

From the home office in Short Pump, VA…

#1: “Each year there is more information created on the Web than in all the previous years combined. ” Jim Breyer of Accel http://bit.ly/12nH3

#2: Per a Yahoo product rep, the average search session lasts 15 minutes http://bit.ly/eSrr

#3: What a lovely bitchmeme we have this weekend…and in case you’re curious, here’s Dave Winer’s definition of a bitchmeme: http://bit.ly/MYJm

#4: It takes 6-9 months for a blog to get fully ramped up in terms of readership per @duncanriley http://bit.ly/W0LO

#5: Great story of a Best Buy meeting where a raging Twitter conversation happened while the room was respectfully quiet http://bit.ly/FkKM

#6: 60% of e2.0 vendors will be bought or go under in 2009, according to Gartner http://bit.ly/Acyg >> Oy!

#7: Today is my one-year anniversary of Twitter. First tweet? “Trying to get warm-n-fuzzy about Twitter…” http://bit.ly/fss2 Accomplished!

#8: Office 2007 – really, really confusing if you’re used to Office 2003 or prior versions.

#9: FriendFeed got a spammer attack, the team quickly took care of it. One thing I wonder: why do these spammers always have such bad grammar?

#10: My sister just earned her PhD in linguistics this morning from Georgetown. Way to go Helen!

*****

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The Top 10 Enterprise 2.0 Stories of 2008

The enterprise 2.0 space saw good action this year. I’ve had a chance to see it up close, starting the year with BEA Systems (now Oracle) and closing out the year with Connectbeam. I think it’s fair to say that in 2007, social software was still something of a missionary sale. In 2008, company inquiries increased a lot. The burden still falls on the vendors to articulate business benefits, adoption strategies and use cases. But enterprise customers are now partners in this work.

So let’s get to it. Here are my top ten stories for the year:

1. Activity Streams

Facebook really got this going with its newsfeed, and FriendFeed took it to an art form with its lifestreaming service. In 2008, many vendors added activity streams to their applications: Connectbeam, BEA Systems, Atlassian, SocialText, Jive Software and others.  Activity streams are great for improving awareness of colleagues’ activities, and adding a new searchable object: actions.

2. Forrester’s $4.6 Billion Forecast

Forrester Research made a splash with its forecast that Enterprise 2.0 will be a $4.6 billion market by 2013. The ReadWriteWeb story about it has been bookmarked to Del.icio.us 386 times and counting. Forrester’s projections provided a solid analytical framework for the different tools, used internally and externally. According to the analysis, social networking will be the most popular tool for companies. Whether you buy the forecast or not, they remain the best-known, most visible numbers to date.

3. Oracle Beehive

Larry Ellison is fond of essentially dismissing SaaS. He does not have Oracle invest much in the trend. But Oracle did seem to embrace Enterprise 2.0 in a big way this year with Beehive, which is an “integrated set of collaboration services.”  The New York Times quotes Oracle EVP  Chuck Rozwat: “It is a product we built from scratch over the last three years.” Now since Oracle is a huge enterprise software company, there’s plenty of skepticism about the capabilities and innovation of Beehive. But there’s no denying that Oracle has the ear of the enterprise, and picks up a lot of market intelligence through its customer base. While Beehive itself may or may not succeed, the idea that Oracle came out with Beehive was a big story.

4. AIIM/McKinsey Surveys

Research and consulting firms AIIM and McKinsey each came out with surveys of corporate interest in enterprise 2.0. The AIIM survey looked at levels of awareness and interest among different Enterprise 2.0 technologies. AIIM also took a fairly expansive view of social software. The top 3 “Enterprise 2.0″ technologies in terms of corporate awareness? Email, instant messaging, search. That’s actually a funny list, yet there are lessons there for vendors and consultants in the social software industry. If those are entrenched, can you play nicely with them? One other quote I like from the report:

This study of 441 end users found that a majority of organizations recognize Enterprise 2.0 as critical to the success of their business goals and objectives, but that most do not have a clear understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 is.

McKinsey’s survey of enterprises looked at the interest in various tools as well. It also asked respondents what the leading barriers were for success of social software initiatives. Top three were: (1) Lack of understanding for their financial return; (2) Company culture; (3) Insufficient incentives to adopt or experiment with the tools.

5. Facebook Co-Founder Leaves to Start an Enterprise 2.0 Company

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and colleague Justin Rosenstein announced they were leaving the hot consumer social network to start a new company. The new company will “build an extensible enterprise productivity suite,” with the goal of “making companies themselves run better.” Why would these young guys, sitting on top of the leader in consumer social networking, choose to exit? As I wrote at the time:

The Enterprise 2.0 market is still quite nascent and fragmented. Combine that industry profile with projected spending in the category, and suddenly you understand why these guys are striking out on their own.

Assuming they’ll be able to tap the mother ship for help, I think this was a fairly important story this year.

6. Microblogging Enters the Enterprise

Joining wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and other incumbent tools this year was microblogging . Given the way Twitter is used by Enterprise 2.0 aficionados, and is enjoying skyrocketing popularity, it’s no surprise we started seeing microblogging emerge for internal use. At the mostly consumer-focused TechCrunch50, enterprise microblogging start-up Yammer won the top prize. Other start-ups in the category include SocialCast and Present.ly. SocialText added microblogging with its release of Signals.

7. Gartner Narrows its Criteria for Social Software

Gartner came out with its Social Software Magic Quadrant in October. As SageCircle notes:

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.

So it was with great interest when I read that Gartner had narrowed the criteria for whom it puts in the Magic Quadrant:

Added blogs and wikis to the functionality requirements

The effect of that is to establish those two tools as the de facto standard for enterprise social software inside the enterprise. To the extent corporate buyers are listening to Gartner for signals about the market, this will make it a bit more challenging for start-ups with interesting offerings that address other parts of the social software market. Yammer, for instance, won’t make it into their Magic Quadrant.

8. Enterprise RSS Fails to Take Off

RSS is one of those technologies that you know has huge value, and yet continues to struggle for awareness and adoption. Google tracks the leading “what is” searches. The fifth most popular on its list? “What is RSS?” Take that as both good and bad. Good that people want to know, bad that awareness continues to be a struggle.

Forrester analyst Oliver Young has a sharp write-up that shows enterprise RSS did not expand inside companies as many had thought it would this year. As he notes:

Of the three enterprise RSS vendors selling into this space at the start of 2008: KnowNow went out of business completely; NewsGator shifted focus and now leads with its Social Sites for SharePoint offering, while its Enterprise Server catches much less attention; and Attensa has been very quiet this year.

RSS is a great way to distribute content inside companies, but its ongoing limited adoption was a big non-story for the year.

9. IBM and Intel Issue Employee Social Media Guidelines

IBM and Intel each established guidelines for their employees who participate in social media. As I wrote, this essentially was a deputization of employees as brand managers out on the web. These market leaders were essentially saying, “have at it out there on blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc. But make sure you know the company’s expectations.” These guidelines represent a milestone in large enterprises’ comfort with social media. I expect we’ll see more of this in 2009.

10. The Recession

This affects all industries, globally, of course. And Enterprise 2.0 is no exception. Jive Software made news with its layoffs, but the effect was industry-wide. And of course, corporate buyers aren’t immune either.

Those are my ten. Did I miss a big story for 2008? Add your thoughts in the comments.

If you’re interested in tracking what happens in 2009, I encourage you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. It is a centralized location for tweets and Del.icio.us bookmarks that specifically relate to Enterprise 2.0.

*****

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Supply-Demand Curves for Attention

The basic ideas behind the Attention Economy are simple. Such an economy facilitates a marketplace where consumers agree to receives services in exchange for their attention.

Alex Iskold, ReadWriteWeb, The Attention Economy: An Overview

The attention economy. It’s a natural evolution of our ever-growing thirst for information, and the easier means to create it. It’s everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere. The democratization of content production, the endless array of choices for consumption.

In Alex’s post, he listed four attention services, as they relate to e-commerce: alerts, news, search, shopping.  In the world of information, I focus on three use cases for the consumption of information:

  1. Search = you have a specific need now
  2. Serendipity = you happen across useful information
  3. Notifications = you’re tracking specific areas of interest

I’ve previously talked about these three use cases. In a post over on the Connectbeam blog, I wrote a longer post about the supply demand curves for content in the Attention Economy. What are the different ways to increase share of mind for workers’ contributions, in the context of those three consumption use cases.

The chart below is from that post. It charts the content demand curves for search, serendipity and notifications.

micro-economies-of-attention-3-demand-curves-for-content

Following the blue dotted line…

  • For a given quantity of user generated content, people are willing to invest more attention on Search than on Notifications or Serendipity
  • For a given “price” of attention, people will consume more content via Search than for Notifications or Serendipity

Search has always been a primary use case. Google leveraged the power of that attention to dominate online ads.

Serendipity is relatively new entry in the world of consumption. Putting content in front of someone, content that they had not expressed any prior interest in. A lot of the e-commerce recommendation systems are built on this premise, such as Amazon.com’s recommendations. And companies like Aggregate Knowledge put related content in front of readers of media websites.

Notifications are content you have expressed a prior interest in, but don’t have an acute, immediate need for like you do with Search. I use the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed for this purpose.

The demand curves above have two important qualities that differentiate them:

  • Where they fall in relation to each other on the X and Y axes
  • Their curves

As you can see with how I’ve drawn them, Search and Notifications are still the best way to command someone’s attention. Search = relevance + need. Notifications = relevance.

Serendipity commands less attention, but it can have the property of not requiring opt-in by a user. Which means you can put a lot of content in front of users, and some percentage of it will be useful. The risk is that a site overdoes it, and dumps too much Serendipitous-type content in front of users. That’s a good way to drive them away because they have to put too much attention on what they’re seeing. Hence the Serendipity curve. If you demand too much attention, you will greatly reduce the amount of content consumed. Aggregate Knowledge typically puts a limited number of recommendations in front of readers.

On the Connectbeam blog post, I connect these subjects to employee adoption of social software. Check it out if that’s an area of interest for you.

*****

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Early: Companies Deputizing Their Employees as Brand Managers

For the longest time, social media enthusiasts have noted that employees represent their companies, whether they realize it or not. This becomes more apparent every day as more people take part in the Grand Conversation.

Two tech behemoths have in recent weeks released their social media guidelines for employees. I’ll describe them a bit below, but I think it’s worth noting what milestones there are. Historically, large companies haven’t really encouraged employees to talk out in the market. But then, historically all you had were newspapers and trade magazines.

Companies have had to figure out how to handle social media. Some are advancing well, others are stuck in the 1990s. Here’s a spectrum of ways companies can handle employees and social media:

spectrum-of-trust-for-employee-social-media

Social media sites blocked: This is an ongoing issue. More companies appear to be enlightened, but there’s still a persistent, old school strain that blocks them. Hard for your employees to engage in social media if they can’t get to the sites.

Only marketing engages social media: Also known as the YouTube Strategy. Social media is a thing that you use to go viral. Other employees may be out there, but they probably need to keep their company identity a secret.

Only approved employees engage: This is actually a company warming up to social media. It knows there is more than the YouTube Strategy. It wants employees to participate.

EMC found some good natural blogging talent internally that it promoted to be EMC’s external voices. And that has paid off well in terms of market engagement. [See update in the paragraph below - EMC is actually deputizing its employees as well.]

All employees are deputized: This is what IBM and Intel are doing. They are treating every employee as an individual brand manager out on the Web. They are deputizing them by giving them guidelines, setting expectations, and then letting them act on their own. It’s a wonderful way to let employees both (1) engage the market about their company and their work; and (2) learn from others as to the state of their fields.

UPDATE: Per the comments below, EMC is actually another proponent of deputizing all employees.

Everyone does their own thing: Not having any type of policy is the policy. This is the default position. And companies still benefit tremendously here. They just may have some employee behaviors they wouldn’t want to see.

Oddly enough, I’d say most companies are on either extreme. They either block social media, or have no policy. But IBM and Intel are pointing to a new thinking about how companies and their employees are engaging social media.

A Look at IBM and Intel’s Guidelines

IBM released its social media guidelines several weeks ago. Intel’s came out last week. Both do a great job of mixing corporate interests with a hands-off approach that defines authentic social media engagement. The documents are pretty good reads, and surprisingly similar. Looks like Intel was a good student of IBM’s guidelines.

I’ve pulled together highlights from each companies’ guidelines below:

table-of-ibm-intel-social-media-guidelines

Lots of respect to IBM and Intel for their guidelines. These companies are trendsetters, and I look forward to other companies joining the fray.

*****

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 121208

From the home office in Charlottesville, VA…

#1: “If you’re not blogging, you’re an idiot” – Tom Peters http://bit.ly/toNh >> Perhaps overstating it a tiny bit…

#2: Reading: Will Enterprise 2.0 ever enter big organizations? http://bit.ly/9QkK Well-articulated point re: cogs v. valu of complete individual

#3: So interesting that corporations are creating social media guidelines for employees. Intel is the latest: http://bit.ly/I3Pj

#4: Working on a kindergarten application essay. Yes, a kindergarten essay. Not something my parents had to worry about when I was a kid.

#5: Observation: if u wait to blog about a big Google announcement til the next day, your post is at the top of the Google post links = traffic.

#6: @problogger Thanks for the tweet of my blog post. Glad you like it.

#7: Reading: How ‘visionary’ raised – and lost – a fortune http://bit.ly/HiPc Great article re: my old employer Pay By Touch. Drugs, crimes, $$$

#8: Consequence of listening to Last.fm. Song I like comes on here at Specialty’s, I want to favorite it. I click around in the air instead…

#9: My preso, “Double the Value of Your Social Software”, was added to the Social Media Leadership group on SlideShare: http://bit.ly/tUaD

#10: Following @SantaClaus25 who is following more than he is followed. Guess he needs to track who’s naughty and nice…

If You Had to Choose One Form of Digital Communication, What Would It Be?

tin-can-phone

Via Mark Hillary on Flickr

That’s a funny question isn’t it? It is something of a parlour game question. Yet it’s a marvelous way to analyze the features of different communication modes, and to think about what we really need from our communications.

The inspiration for this blog post was a discussion with Chris White and others over on FriendFeed. The discussion centered around the merits of email, Twitter and other forms of communication. In the middle of the discussion, Chris asked:

If you had to choose one medium of digital communication, which one would you choose?

Well that, of course, got a good round of arguments. And it’s a good question.

Here are some modes that come to mind. I’m going to hold off on including mobile phones in the discussion. We’ll take voice as a given.

  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • SMS text
  • Twitter
  • Social networks (i.e. Facebook)
  • FriendFeed

The table below covers several considerations for these different communication modes:

digital-comm-modes-summary-of-characteristics

The characteristics listed above are those that came to mind in considering digital communications. They’re not tech-geek stuff (like bandwidth, architectural factors, etc.). More a list of things that lay people would experience.

A few notes about the table before I pick my communication mode:

Email is both persistent and searchable. Those are valuable characteristics, as Joelle Nebbe notes during the FriendFeed discussion. But they have to be in your in-box to be accessible, because they are private.

IM and SMS text are pretty similar. One happens on a phone, the other happens on PC client. Or both happen on the phone, I suppose. LOL kthxbai!

Twitter can be both private (DMs) and public (default). The 140 character limit is genius to some people, frustrating to others.

Social Networks are private? Doesn’t that fly in the face of all the media about embarrassing pix on Facebook? I know information can leak out, but that’s not the default setting. For instance, see if you can find the most recent blog post I wrote on Facebook Notes about my kids. Unless you’re my friend there, you can’t access it. It’s private.

Social Networks are private in terms of their in-site messaging. Like Twitter DMs.

FriendFeed is public or private. Privacy can be a setting for all of your stream, or you may live in a Room with restricted access. It’s one-to-many only. No way to reach out talk to a specific user directly.

My Own Selection

As I wrote in the discussion on FriendFeed, if pressed I’d have to select Twitter. Why?

  • DM allows private one-to-one conversations (unless you’re Robert Scoble)
  • @reply acts as an in-box for public tweets
  • Searchability is very important and valuable
  • Public tweets are a different form of communication, one that I’m increasingly valuing as a way to cast a larger net for information and feedback

On the FriendFeed discussion, Chris White noted that email supports file attachments, while Twitter doesn’t. But as I wrote in yesterday’s post about the Atlassian Confluence wiki, I could live with my documents being in a centralized web space. I’d just tweet (Yammer?) a link to the document. It’s not perfect. There are times you need to get a document to someone who may not have access to a private web space. That would be a pain. But the other advantages of Twitter are enough for me to live with the pain.

A word about FriendFeed. If they ever decide to support direct messaging and something similar to the @reply tab of Twitter, then they would become my communication mode of choice. There is so much more that can be done there via different media types, along with Rooms and Lists.

Those are my thoughts. How about you? Email has survived this long, and has a lot of well-designed features. Maybe that would be yours? Did I miss some key points about the various modes? Gloss over a deficiency too easily? Maybe there’s another form of digital communication I missed?

Take a second and say which communication mode you would choose in the poll below (RSS reader – click over quickly to select one).

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22If+You+Had+to+Choose+One+Form+of+Digital+Communication%2C+What+Would+It+Be%3F%22&who=everyone

Atlassian’s Confluence Wiki Gets Social: Embed Your Favorite Social Media

Zoli Erdos has a nice write-up of enterprise software company Atlassian, titled Business Models and Right-brained Geeks. In it, he notes the culture of Atlassian is different from many enterprise software companies:

Atlassian is a “different” company in so many ways… no wonder they are still hiring while the rest of the world is busy downsizing.  But one thing I’ve not realized until now is they have a backup business plan. They could quit Technology tomorrow and become a Creative Agency overnight.smile_wink Need proof?

We use Atlassian’s Confluence wiki in our office, and I’ll bet a lot of you do as well. It’s easy to use, and I’ve become a big fan of it versus using Microsoft Word.

So it’s no surprise that the latest release, Confluence 2.10 has a really cool feature: the Widget Connector. Uh…come again?

The Widget Connector. It is a lightweight way to embed content from 16 different social media sites:

atlassian-confluence-connector-widget-supported-sites

I have to say, that’s pretty cool. The ability to embed media created elsewhere is a wonderful feature for any site. I’ve embedded my recent SlideShare on the About Page for this blog. And the ability to embed Vimeo videos was great for a recent post where I talked with MADtv’s Chris Kula.

LinkedIn recently started doing this as well. You can add content and applications from 10 different sites to your profile. It’s a smart play for companies. By letting you bring content from elsewhere, these sites become valuable platforms for getting business done.

Considering the Widget Connector in a Business Context

The interesting thing here is that these sites are indeed social. So the content that will be included is likely to be that which is OK for public viewing. Which means some sensitive internal content won’t be found on these sites. I know many of these sites allow private, restricted access content. It’s unclear whether restricted access content can be embedded though.

But a lot of what businesses do is perfectly fine for public consumption. Well, make sure you embed it in the wiki! Conference presentations, product demos, marketing media, product pictures, etc. In fact, the bias should be to have this content public and findable unless there is a real concern about loss of confidential information. Being a presence in the industry means getting out there with information and ideas that you share. Of course, not everything should be accessible. For instance, a webinar should be public, while a customer presentation will stay internal.

The reality is that companies are expanding their presence on social media sites, even if it is happening in a halting fashion. Turns out consumers are starting to expect it. As use of these various social media sites expands, having a central place to view and track the content on them makes a lot of sense.

Another use I see for this is collecting information from various services and users to build out research on:

  • New product or service initiatives
  • Competitors
  • Customers
  • Regulatory and standards development

Consider Atlassian’s release of Confluence 2.10 another step forward in expanding the use and value of social media for business purposes.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Atlassian%E2%80%99s+Confluence+Wiki+Gets+Social%3A+Embed+Your+Favorite+Social+Media%22&who=everyone

Gmail Tasks Are a Good Start. Now Please Integrate with Google Calendar.

The folks over at Google announced a new Labs feature, the Task Manager for Gmail. Typical of Google, the feature is a simple, easy-to-use interface. You can type a task right in the Tasks panel.

As Google says on its blog announcing this feature:

People use Gmail to get stuff done, so we’ve added a lightweight way to keep track of what you need to do, right from within Gmail.

The other cool, but incomplete, thing is that you can add an email to the list of tasks. This is a great idea. I know I get a lot of emails at work in Microsoft Outlook that require some follow-up. But I don’t use Outlook’s Task panel to track them.

Rather I use the Actions > Follow-up > Add Reminder menu. This lets me stay in my email, while scheduling the follow-up day and time. Here’s a shot of that feature in Outlook:

outlook-email-task-manager-with-scheduler

For me, this is a terrific feature of Outlook. The follow-up notifications get my attention. I’ve used the Task panel before to record tasks. You know what happens to them? I never bother returning to look at my list. Email is where I go for my notifications.

Gmail Tasks do support associating a date to a task. That’s not bad, and it’s an improvement over my current follow-up methodology…starring the email. But what’s missing are:

  • Ability to set a time
  • Integration with my Google Calendar

My concern is that without the Calendar integration, Gmail Tasks will end up like Outlook Tasks for me. A place where written notes go to die.

I tweeted this idea about Calendar integration:

Added the Gmail ‘Add to Tasks’ feature (http://bit.ly/MVO). Would be great if that integrated with Google Calendar for scheduling.

And as is typical, a good discussion ensued. Stupid Blogger (aka Tina) noted that without Calendar integration, the Tasks feature is essentially useless for her.

She then added this thought:

Not just that, Hutch, but if it integrated somehow with the calendar then it would show up on my G1 as a notification. This would be BRILLIANT.

That’s right. Turn those task into reminders that come through on your T-Mobile G1 Google Android phone.

It’s a Labs feature, so certainly it’s a work-in-progress. Let’s hope they get Calendar integration out of the Lab soon.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Gmail+Tasks+Are+a+Good+Start.+Now+Please+Integrate+with+Google+Calendar.%22&who=everyone

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