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My Other Blog Covers Innovation, Crowdsourcing and Social Software

To really work, Sierra observed, an entrepreneur’s blog has to be about something bigger than his or her company and his or her product. This sounds simple, but it isn’t. It takes real discipline to not talk about yourself and your company. Blogging as a medium seems so personal, and often it is. But when you’re using a blog to promote a business, that blog can’t be about you, Sierra said. It has to be about your readers, who will, it’s hoped, become your customers. It has to be about making them awesome.

This is from Joel Spolsky’s Inc. column, where he also announces that he’s quitting his uber popular blog, Joel on Software. Which is incredible. Like Louis Gray giving up his blog.

Joel notes that he’s been at it for 10 years, and his company Fog Creek Software, has grown to the point where he needs to focus on its operations and alternative marketing modes. He does offer business owners some thoughts consistent with what “got him there” in terms of Fog Creek’s growth:

  • If you’re selling a clever attachment to a camera that diffuses harsh flash light, don’t talk about the technical features or about your holiday sale (10 percent off!). Make a list of 10 tips for being a better photographer.
  • If you’re opening a restaurant, don’t blog about your menu. Blog about great food. You’ll attract foodies who don’t care about your restaurant yet.
  • If you make superior, single-source chocolate, don’t write about that great trip you took to the Dominican Republic to source cocoa beans. That’s all about you. Instead, write the definitive article about making chocolate-covered strawberries.

Joel’s been at it longer than me, but those tips are spot-on for the way I approach writing on the Spigit blog. Don’t write endlessly about the product features and press releases. Write to illuminate and give identity to the nascent Innovation Management 2.0 market. What’s important to organizations beginning to look at innovation management seriously?

If You’re Tracking the Innovation Space…

To that end, I know I’ve got some readers here who have an interest in both Enterprise 2.0, and innovation. In addition to this blog, I’m writing relevant posts over on the Spigit blog. Many of these of have garnered a lot of attention (a republished version of one on Braden Kelley’s multi-author blog was the #3 most viewed post there for February).

But don’t just take my word for it. See what you think. Here are seven posts I’ve written over there. Do any of them grab you?

Study – Collaborative Networks Produce Better Ideas: Presents the research of University of Chicago professor Ron Burt, who found that more connected employees generated hiogher quality ideas.

Ideas as the Basis of Social Networks: Begins with a video by Brian Solis, who discusses the concept that ideas, more than pre-existing relationships, will be the basis of social networks. Then weaves in Joshua “Bokardo” Porter’s thoughts on social object design.

Crowdsourcing Is the New Collaboration: Compares the behaviors, groups formation and expectations between traditional collaboration and crowdsourcing. They each have a place inside organizations. Also, a good antidote to the rising outcry over spec work crowdsourcing contests.

Four Models of Competitive Crowdsourcing: Provides a look at four different ways organizations can engage customers and interested participants in the crowdsourcing process: Crowd Sentiment, Expert Decision; Crowd Decision; Expert Decision; American Idol.

Who Are Your Positive Deviants?: Positive deviance refers to practices that fall outside the standard ways in which things are done, and which provide much better than standard results. People trying unorthodox things. Finding and propagating these positive deviances is important for social and corporate advancement.

Gary Hamel: Hierarchy of Employee Traits for the Creative Economy: Hamel lays out what he views as the key employee traits in the future, as we shift from the Information Economy to Creative Economy: initiative, creativity, passion. Key for workers is to get above the line of commoditization.

Study – Distributed Idea Generation Outperforms Team Brainstorming: Researchers at INSEAD and Wharton conducted a rigorous field study, comparing in-person team brainstorming to individualized, distributed idea generation. They found distributed idea generation outperformed the old corporate standby, team brainstorming.

If those topics interest you, I encourage you to subscribe. For reference, here’s the blog’s RSS feed:

http://blog.spigit.com/feed/blog/Hutch

See you there.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 103009

From the home office, waiting for the Great Pumpkin in the pumpkin patch…

#1: NIH grants $12mm to create a national, Facebook-like social network for scientists http://ow.ly/xtAD Goal? Find collaborators

#2: RT @jowyang Ritz Carlton’s mktg chief says hotel mgt at each property spends 1 hour reviewing online convos each am –even tweets #forbescmo

#3: The Time I was Written Up for Blogging http://ow.ly/x3ph by @tacanderson Lesson on employees and social media

#4: Skating to where the puck will be – Apple & advertising http://ow.ly/xnXJ Apple has offered to rebuild a Chicago mass transit stop?

#5: Very cool: Los Angeles adopts Google e-mail system for 30,000 city employees http://ow.ly/x3hP Cloud makes inroads #saas

#6: 84% of firms say #innovation is important to firm success. 51% of firms do not have anyone who is steering the innovation ship. #iai09inno

#7: 10 examples of minimum viable products http://ow.ly/xbi1 Cool list of minimalist approaches to engage customers & build product

#8: Stuck trying to write that next blog post? 100 Ways to Find Ideas for Your Blog Posts http://ow.ly/wA1T from the LifeSnips blog

#9: Geek alert! RT @PaulSloane: @DougCornelius RT Awesome T-Shirts for twins: http://bit.ly/14LYeI

#10: OK, figure this one out. @gaberivera created a tweet that links to itself. See for yourself: http://bit.ly/2IIkJG

Bonus just for this week…

#11: Small change to my Twitter bio…I’m now VP of Product at Spigit. Carry on…

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 100909

From the home office in Oslo…

#1: I’d like to publicly state for the record that I never accept sponsorship or freebies for my blog posts…because no one ever offers any…

#2: The Nobel Peace Prize for Obama is a signal to him, a very large signal, to keep doing what he’s doing. It’s not an achievement award.

#3: Did you see @defrag‘s mashup of Gartner Hype Cycle & Moore’s Chasm? http://ow.ly/tr6d Social media/E20 in trough of visionary adoption

#4: Firms Need a System for Recognizing and Empowering Innovation Catalysts (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/RlMS8 #innovation #wbf09

#5: Slideshare Gets More Serious About Monetizing Their Business http://ow.ly/t79P Two options: Adshare, Leadshare

#6: Hamel: WL Gore manages T&E this way = all expenses posted online for peers to see. Outcome? No need for restrictions. #wbf09

#7: Lucas: “Never imagined people would go frame by frame in Star Wars, and tweet their friends about its [cinematic tricks]” #wbf09

#8: Pickens: I’m more powerful in Washington D.C. now because I have 1.6mm people signed up in support of my energy plan. #wbf09

#9: Lencioni: Need to be able to disagree on things. Need trust for this to work. Conflict without trust is politics. #wbf09

#10: http://twitpic.com/k68s4 – I’m at a wedding that starts in 10 minutes. My son is ring bearer.

From the home office in Oslo…

#1: I’d like to publicly state for the record that I never accept sponsorship or freebies for my blog posts…because no one ever offers any…

#2: The Nobel Peace Prize for Obama is a signal to him, a very large signal, to keep doing what he’s doing. It’s not an achievement award.

#3: Did you see @defrag‘s mashup of Gartner Hype Cycle & Moore’s Chasm? http://ow.ly/tr6d Social media/E20 in trough of visionary adoption

#4: Firms Need a System for Recognizing and Empowering Innovation Catalysts (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/RlMS8 #innovation #wbf09

#5: Slideshare Gets More Serious About Monetizing Their Business http://ow.ly/t79P Two options: Adshare, Leadshare

#6: Hamel: WL Gore manages T&E this way = all expenses posted online for peers to see. Outcome? No need for restrictions. #wbf09

#7: Lucas: “Never imagined people would go frame by frame in Star Wars, and tweet their friends about its [cinematic tricks]” #wbf09

#8: Pickens: I’m more powerful in Washington D.C. now because I have 1.6mm people signed up in support of my energy plan. #wbf09

#9: Lencioni: Need to be able to disagree on things. Need trust for this to work. Conflict without trust is politics. #wbf09

#10: http://twitpic.com/k68s4 – I’m at a wedding that starts in 10 minutes. My son is ring bearer.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 091109

From the home office in Athens, Santorini and Crete…

#1: Salesforce emerging as a competitor to Jive, Socialtext, Atlassian, Telligent? http://bit.ly/71hbn That’ll be tough #e20

#2: What Exactly is a Social Business? http://bit.ly/2g9u82 by @lehawes #e20

#3: 15,000 Thoughts per Day – Why We Need Constraints for Innovation (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/ltaxP #innovation

#4: “Innovation is one of the easiest & least risky areas that can be tapped by organizations” http://bit.ly/uLk6K by @dhinchcliffe

#5: RT @armano “innovation happen in the corners of an organization—they need to be connected” (we call this Ecosystem) #futurebiz

#6: McKinsey has created the “innovation performance score” http://bit.ly/2YWPQ9 It’s, of course, a smart analytical tool #innovation

#7: Love @fredwilson‘s attitude here: The Foursquare “Crush” http://bit.ly/10g4kb Using his blog as valuable feedback for future investments

#8: RT @GraemeThickins Wall Street Journal & New York Times plan San Francisco editions http://bt.io/AwZ (via @thefutureofnews)

#9: RT @skap5 Is it possible to have an economy where everyone is a consultant?

#10: RT @Danny_DeVito I just joined Twitter! I don’t really get this site or how it works. My nuts are on fire.

My Ten Favorite Tweets: Week Ending 080709

From the home office in the former Soviet republic of Georgia…

#1: GigaOm: One RSS subscriber equals 5 to 10 Twitter followers http://bit.ly/MkRHF

#2: Interesting take: “To enable innovation it may be necessary to reduce the number of social ties between coders” http://bit.ly/5apJn

#3: RT @berkun The best approach for wicked problems is to break them apart into smaller problems. Repeat until there’s a piece you can solve.

#4: @GrahamHill Toyota had 20 million ideas in 40 years? Wow. That’s says a lot for how they got to the top of the automotive world.

#5: Checking out @lindegaard‘s list of books and people he finds useful for #innovation work: http://bit.ly/18MUk3

#6: Lloyds CIO: RT @kat_woman have u had a look at spigit? We used it 2 create a world-first idea mgt system internally that runs like a stk mkt

#7: Just spoke with Gary Hamel re: next week’s Spigit Customer Summit. Very nice, very sharp. His keynote will be: “Inventing Management 2.0″

#8: Reading: Go cloud, young man http://bit.ly/h2wx3 by @philww Cloud computing is the future #saas #careers

#9: With family, we’re hitting the shopping holy trinity: Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s

#10: I see these foursquare updates of people out and about, looks great. Mine would be…home….home…playground…home… Kids, you know.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 042409

From the home office in Detroit, Michigan…

#1: CNN.com poll asks, “Do you use Twitter?” 331k respondents. 7% yes. 63% no. 30% “what’s Twitter?”

#2: Hey bloggers – make sure your twitter handle is somewhere on your blogs. I like to tweet a link with your Twitter handle. Easy visibility.

#3: My Twitter personality: renowned spamming cautious My style: garrulous academic ROBOT http://twanalyst.com/bhc3 {ROBOT? Say what?}

#4: Great tips about social media releases for companies on @mediaphyter‘s blog by @serena http://bit.ly/s3wQy

#5: Reading: “Don’t cut back on innovation” in Fortune by Anne Mulcahy, Xerox CEO http://bit.ly/OZWHn

#6: Interested in using enterprise 2.0 for innovation? Read this wonderful post by @ITSinsider “Putting 2.0 to Work: Spigit” http://bit.ly/N53bN

#7: With Oracle’s acq of Sun and MySQL, does PostgreSQL now merit a closer look? http://bit.ly/2B8u3q

#8: Fascinating study of high performance work teams. They equally mix advocacy w/ asking & external/internal focus http://bit.ly/qNDtH

#9: Congrats to Ryan Hall, 3rd place in today’s Boston Marathon (2:09:40). Gutsy race he ran today. http://bit.ly/1ay6BF

#10: It was 91 degrees today in San Francisco, & we felt every one of those degrees at my 5 y.o. son’s birthday party. Fun, but smokin’.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 021309

From the home office on Capitol Hill…

#1: @hblodget says Twitter will be worth $1 billion (http://bit.ly/6niDF cmt #3). I agree: http://bit.ly/C9Ia

#2: Reading: 11 Percent of Online Adults Now Use Status Updates http://tinyurl.com/ansm6r

#3: Reading: “How I made over $2 million with this blog” by @davewiner http://bit.ly/Mygcb Exactly right sense of blogging’s value.

#4: Yammer to be available behind the firewall: http://bit.ly/mgF9B Big move, one that will open up more of the market for them.

#5: Private accounts on Twitter and FriendFeed that require a request to follow…always such an air of mystery…

#6: Steve Wozniak will be on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Wow.

#7: “The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you.” – Paul Graham http://bit.ly/1SiThw

#8: San Francisco’s Bay-to-Breakers to reflect sobriety of our times: http://bit.ly/gV6SM No alcohol, no floats. Nudity is still wink-wink OK.

#9: Just watched David Letterman’s “interview” with Joaquin Phoenix. Dave at his best in a bad situation: http://bit.ly/86Bwi

#10: Sarah Palin – “a naughty librarian with a gun.” CafePress CEO #ugcx

How to Integrate Social Media into Product Marketing

Recently, I’ve had former colleagues from a couple of my old employers ask me about social media. Specifically, how to get started in it from a professional perspective. They’re aware that social media can be powerful, but it can be daunting to figure out an entrance point and what you’re supposed to do with it.

Now I’m no Chris Brogan, but I do have hands-on experience. Specifically, I’ve been doing product marketing for a while now, with both Connectbeam and BEA Systems.  BEA Systems was great for traditional product marketing work. Connectbeam is great for social media-oriented product marketing work. I’ve learned some things that work for me.

In that spirit, I’m going to share them here. Here’s a summary of what follows:

  1. What is product marketing? messaging, customers, market trends, market visibility
  2. Leverage the work you’re already doing
  3. The 9 social media tools I’m using
  4. Twitter – narrate your work
  5. Blog – part product, part big ideas
  6. FriendFeed – tracking the flow
  7. SlideShare, Scribd – the post-webinar bang-for-your-buck
  8. YouTube, Google Video – incremental exposure
  9. Wrapping up – feel free to contact me

OK, let’s get to it.

What Exactly Is Product Marketing?

In the graphic below, I’ve put together a rough (and incomplete) map of the different functions one finds inside companies:

map-of-company-functions

I look at product marketing as having four primary goals:

  1. Positioning and messaging of the company’s products
  2. Steady voice and knowledgeable source for customer inquiries
  3. Staying on top of evolving requirements and ideas in the market
  4. Establishing the company in the market, with coverage among sources of information used by customers

I want to distinguish product marketing from other functions. Every function can use social media for its benefit, but the use cases vary. For instance, I’d expect engineering to use social media to tap peers who can help with coding or architecture questions.

But let’s be clear what product marketing is supposed to do. It is an outward-facing function, with a number of responsibilities:

  • Articulate the value of the company’s products
  • Create messaging around the products, via website content, data sheets, white papers, presentations, etc.
  • Develop the business case for products
  • Put on webinars
  • Give customer presentations and demos
  • Do market and competitive analysis

The tools of the trade include: data sheets, white papers, newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, Camtasia demos, WebEx/GoToMeeting, trade show booths.

So how does social media play in all this?

Leverage the Work You’re Already Doing

The nice thing about traditional product marketing work is that a lot of it complements social media nicely:

product-mktg-source-for-social-media

The first bit of advice I want to impart is that if you treat social media like a foreign language, it will be. If you’re wondering where to start, look no further than the thinking and content you already do as a part of your job. That’s plenty good for starting.

There are three activities that the product marketer will engage in:

  1. Monitor: who is saying what of interest
  2. Engage: interact with customers, analysts, consultants, competitors
  3. Broadcast: create content, tweet original thoughts, post to SlideShare, etc.

In the sections that follow, you’ll see all three activities described.

Social Media: What I’m Doing

The tools: Here are the social media tools I use for product marketing:

Changes in latitude, changes in attitude: Attitude is the most important consideration. If you look at the various social media as a pain-in-the-ass part of your job, you’re likely not going to get much from it. It will be too much of a chore for you.

To excel at product marketing, you’ve got to be good at research and building persuasive arguments, along with a personality that engages customers well. It’s really not that hard to extend those traits into social media. And once you read a bit more below, I think you’ll see the value of engaging in social media.

Be a mensch: Do not spend your time running down competitors. It makes you look petty, and you’ll find yourself in entanglements with them which make no one look good. Focus on what your company is about.

Not tonight honey, I have a headache: I’m an ‘I’ introvert on the Myers Briggs test. Which means I tend to reflect on things. There are times I just don’t feel like twittering. And that’s OK. Because there are times I’m fired up. I will rattle off a series of tweets and dive into deeper conversations. Strike while the iron is hot.

Twitter

Twitter is the microblogging platform, and is my most valuable information source for tracking what’s happening in my industry. It’s really quite a simple platform, but it has a tremendously flexible set of use cases.

The basics: Here a few basics about the service:

  • 140 characters – learn the power of distinct thoughts in a limited space
  • Follow – you see the tweets of whomever you follow, and anyone following you might see your tweets
  • @Replies – the @Replies tab serves as an inbox of public tweets meant for your attention. Start a tweet with @[username] and it will end up in that inbox
  • RT – stands for retweet. When someone tweets something you like and you want your own followers to see it, you type ‘RT’ , then paste the tweet (with the @[username] included) and hit update.
  • DM – Direct Messages are essentially emails, limited to 140 characters. People use them all the time for private conversations.

Fill out your bio: Make sure you do the following with your Twitter account: use your real name, put your location, have a website of some type (your personal blog, company blog, company website), tell who your company is and what you do there, and upload a picture. This seems like basic advice, but if you don’t, a lot of people won’t follow you back. Which makes your product marketing job that much harder.

Also, before you start following people, get 3-4 tweets on your account so you don’t look like a spam bot.

Subscribe: You need to find others to follow on Twitter,  otherwise it’s a lonely place. But who? Here a three tips to get started:

  • Find prominent bloggers in your space, find their twitter account, and follow them
  • Look at who the prominent bloggers are following, and follow the same people
  • Run a search on twitter for industry jargon, see if those people are interested in your sector. Click here to go to twitter search.

A lot of those you follow will follow you back. This is how you start growing your own base of followers.

Narrate your work: Great, so you’re set up. Now what to tweet? Lunch menu? Here’s one idea. Narrate your work. Technology legend Dave Winer wrote this idea, and I like it. Tweet what it is you’re doing. But, let’s examine this a bit more.

Do not tweet, “Opening up Microsoft Word” or “Heading into a meeting”. Yes, that’s your work, but it’s nothing anyone cares about. Rather, you might be reading a good article about something relevant to your industry. You like it? Tweet it! A simple tweet like this is great:

Reading: [article name] [shortened URL] [optional - a bit of personal color]

Because of the 140 character limit, typical article URLs are too lengthy for a tweet. Use a URL shortener, like bit.ly. And if you have a pithy thought on the article, tack it on at the end of the tweet.

@reply to people: When someone you’re following tweets something of interest to you, engage them. Ask follow-up questions, agree with them, challenge them. This is the type of thing that puts you “on the map” in Twitter. Done well, you will gain new followers by doing this. Just avoid being a troll. When people @reply to you, make sure you give them the courtesy of a reply back.

Broadcast: Once you’ve established credibility and a set of followers on Twitter, don’t be afraid to broadcast updates. These may be product releases, blog posts, new white papers, conferences you’ll be attending, etc. All that is fine. Unless that’s all you’re tweeting. Then it’s not fine.

And don’t be bashful tweeting successes.

Be an information hub: One observation about @reply tweets. They are the conversational currency of Twitter. Personally, I want to make sure maybe 60% of my tweets are conversational. But I don’t want them too high. As a product marketer, you’ve got a message to impart. Nothing wrong with creating tweets that others like. What are some non-@reply tweets? Retweets, passing along links to interesting information, personal observations as you do your work, or personal life things (such as funny things about your kids).

People will be attracted to twitters who pass along valuable info.

Blog

Check any job description for product marketing, and you’ll see that good writing is a requirement. We do this for data sheets and white papers. And these papers we write are for public consumption. Of course, they do tend to have a fairly structured approach.

Which is what’s nice about blogging. You’re still writing. But the format restrictions of “official” documents are loosened. Language is less formal, you can inject personality and include pictures, videos, polls etc.

What to write: On the Spigit blog, I like to mix it up. I will cover product releases. But I won’t just re-state the data sheets or press releases. I write more of the background, the “why” for a product release or feature.

I cover larger  issues  as well. This is particularly important for smaller companies. When you’re smaller, you don’t get automatic attention the way Google, Microsoft or Oracle do. That means just writing about your product will result in people not reading your blog posts.

But what do smaller companies have? A different way of looking at the market, and the advantage of generally being more leading edge. For instance, this Spigit blog post, Eight Principles of Enterprise Innovation Management, clearly describes what the burgeoning field covers.

Bloggers love links: When you write these company blog posts, link to other bloggers. For your readers, it’s a great way to show how your thinking ties into issues others are grappling with. For yourself, it’s a good way to memorialize a post you liked. And in case you didn’t know, bloggers love links.

When you link to another blogger, they get a notification of that link. In terms of attention, this is even better than an email. It means you took the time to read their post, and built on it. See who the industry thought leaders are, subscribe to and read their blogs via Google Reader and incorporate their analysis, opinion and observations in your blog posts.

Foreshadow things that are coming up: You know your product roadmap: the features and timing. Prior to those releases, get some posts out that lay down the rationale for the releases. Not in some ham-handed fashion, but as a thoughtful look at the problems or opportunities there are. Pull in research, include excerpts from articles and other bloggers. You then have a good basis for announcing the new features.

Practice makes perfect: Don’t wait until you’ve got a sense of what the perfect blogging style is. Just get in there and do it. You’ll learn over time what subjects resonate, and how to craft an argument that gets attention.

Engage those who comment: People will leave comments on your blog. Make sure you take the time to respond to them. That’s a good way to ensure they come back, and you’ll learn something from the exchange. It also leaves a trail of commentary for others to read.

Blogs are a source of high quality traffic: The Spigit blog is a source of traffic to the Spigit website. Not the biggest, but a meaningful source. Visitors from the blog spend more time, view more pages and have a lower bounce rate than many traffic referral sources. And visitors from other blogs exhibit the same tendencies.

Make sure your company blog is indexed: The search engines can deliver great traffic. Make sure your blog is part of their search index database. For instance, here’s the Google page to submit your blog URL: http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl

FriendFeed

FriendFeed is a lifestream aggregation service, which lets track all manner of information about other people from 59 different services. There is a good social aspect to FriendFeed, although the company is still pretty early in its lifecycle. So it’s likely that people in your industry aren’t yet active there.

But beside the social aspects, FriendFeed also has incredibly powerful information management tools. And it’s these tools that are valuable to the product marketer. I’m going to cover them below, but a more detailed description is available on this blog post.

Subscribe to people: Just like on Twitter, you can subscribe to people on FriendFeed, if they have an account there. When you do that, you’ll see there tweets, plus other useful information like Del.icio.us bookmarks, new blog posts, Google Reader shares, etc. You get a fuller picture of what is happening with those in your industry.

Subscribe to imaginary friends: Some people don’t have an account on FriendFeed, but they are active on some other site, like Twitter. But you can still stalk follow them on FriendFeed. You’re doing this not to interact with on FriendFeed, since they don’t have an account there. But I use FriendFeed as a master aggregator of people’s activity streams.

Track keywords in a Group: FriendFeed lets you create Group. Groups are containers into which you can pipe content from elsewhere. Use a Group to track keywords that relate to your industry.

For example, I’ve created the Innovation Management Group.  Into that Group, I’m piping tweets with keywords I want to track, and SlideShare presentations and Del.icio.us bookmarks with tags I want to track. One centralized place to stay on top of what’s happening in my industry.

Put it all together into a List: FriendFeed has a feature called Lists. You can categorize the people you follow into different Lists. Then you can focus specifically on the activity streams of those people. I’m currently tracking the activity streams of 61 people associated with the Enterprise 2.0 industry. You can also add your keyword notification Room to your List. So you’ll see who’s talking about your industry beyond just those people you follow. As I wrote before, Follow Everything by a Select Few, Select Content by Everyone.

Track it in real-time: Once you have your industry List set up, FriendFeed provides a nice option. You can follow the activity streams in real-time as they hit the FriendFeed database. I find this to be important for two reasons. First, there are time people you know are tweeting something you care about. There’s an opportunity to do one of those @reply engagements. You don’t want to wait until the end of the day to see that, because the moment is lost. The second reason is that stuff collects, and if you wait until the end of the day you’re less likely to catch things of interest.

As I wrote in another post, it’s really not that distracting to track activity streams this way. An alternative people use for real-time flow and user groups is Tweetdeck. It’s only for Twitter, but many swear by it.

Connecting the dots: Once you’re set-up with with your List + keyword tracking Room + real-time, something amazing happens. You will start to understand what people are buzzing about more. You’ll see recurring themes. You learn who people in your industry are paying attention to. You see the relationships that exist among industry folks, via the @reply conversations. You’ll know which conferences and trade shows are most talked about.

SlideShare, Scribd

SlideShare and Scribd are the two leading social document sharing sites. Social document sharing? Huh? What you do is upload a document to these sites, and others who are doing research can find and read them. Document types include:

  • PowerPoints
  • Word Documents
  • PDFs
  • Spreadsheets

These are great places to share the content you’re creating. Let me give you an example of how this worked for me.

In November 2008, I put on a webinar titled How to Double the Value of Your Social Software. Afterwards, I put the presentation on SlideShare. In the two months since it’s been there, the following has happened:

A more recent presentation for a Spigit webinar, Tapping Communities to Accelerate Corporate Innovation, has been viewed 1,508 times.

I recently added the social software presentation to Scribd, and it now has 586 views and two Likes.

I assure you, the after-webinar action is much greater than that which occurred with the webinar itself. The effect of all this is to get your company’s point of view into the market. You are a contributor to the industry dialogue, and your company is very relevant in the thinking about the industry’s future. As I said, this is particularly important for smaller companies, who cannot rely on a huge market presence to ensure getting people’s attention. But even the big companies benefit from this.

This  is product marketing, social media style.

Considerations for SlideShare, Scribd: As you can see, the webinar presentation can actually multiply in value when it’s on these social document sharing sites. I know Guy Kawasaki has the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. Consider that a philosophy, not a rule. What I take from his blog post is the advice not clutter up your slides with too much.

When people are viewing your PowerPoint, they will not have the advantage of your voiceover. You can’t provide a spare slide with just a picture and hope everyone gets what you’re saying. In the webinar, you’ll have a nice narration for the slide. In SlideShare and Scribd, each slide has to stand on its own. Here are my tips:

  • Minimize the times custom animation is a requirement to talk about the slide. Because customer animation doesn’t work on these sites.
  • Pictures and graphics – these break the monotony of endless bullets and text
  • Each slide should have two messages: (1) the point/data of the slide; (2) a way to provide your commentary to that point/data
  • Assuming multiple sections, recap the slides of each section – make sure the point is made

And don’t forget to tag, tag, tag your presentations. Don’t be chary with the tags. People will use them to find your documents. Of course, make sure your tags actually reflect the material in the presentation.

As you go into a webinar, think about your presentation being consumed by an audience many times bigger than the number of attendees to the webinar.

YouTube, Google Video

Videos are a popular way for people to view content. A part of your product marketing job may include producing canned demos of the product. These can be on your company website. And they can go on YouTube as well.

I’ve uploaded three demos for Connectbeam to YouTube. In total, they’ve gotten 380 views. Not quite the same as the SlideShare or blog posts. But it’s nice incremental exposure for something you’re creating anyway.

There are countless stories of videos going viral, and it’s a holy grail for marketers. But I don’t spend a lot of time on that. If you happen to have a particular strength in entertaining videos, by all means take advantage of it.

One limitation for YouTube is that videos’ running time can be no longer than 10:59. For basic product demos, this should be more than enough time. But for webinars, which can run an hour, YouTube doesn’t work.

Google Video supports much longer videos. It’s where I uploaded the recorded webinar from November.  It’s not nearly as social as YouTube, but it does come up in Google search results.

Unfortunately, Google is going to stop accepting new uploads to Google Video in a few months.

However, assuming you do get a video to Google Video or you upload shorter media to YouTube, you can embed these videos in a blog post and give them color commentary to spur viewing.

Use high quality resolution when embedding YouTube videos: The normal resolution of a YouTube video is rough. This may be something that happens when you convert a Camtasia video to a YouTube-acceptable format. But you should know about this, because it hurts the viewing quality of the video. Those web screenshots can be hard to read.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this. When you embed a YouTube video on a web page or blog post, you can alter the embed code to force the video to view in high resolution. The hack described in this blog post works. It will ensure that the video’s fidelity is much higher, making it a more enjoyable viewing experience.

Wrapping Up

A site that I think could be more valuable to engage in is LinkedIn. There are groups and questions that people pose. I haven’t been very active there, but it’s worth a look. Depending on your industry, Facebook may also have value.

I hope this post has been helpful. I seriously could triple the size of this post, but it’s long enough. If you want to talk more about this, feel free to reach out to me on email: (hutch <dot> carpenter at gmail <dot> com) or on the phone 415-377-3610.

Finally, here are a couple relevant posts as follow-up:

I encourage you to get out there and start experimenting. It’s the best way to learn.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 010909

From the home office in Chicago, IL…

#1: RT @natenash203 Back to project planning for BPM implementation @ Afghanistan Ministry of Commerce. {Whoa! BPM? Things progressing there}

#2: “Businesses needed to have 20-30% engagement rates” by employees in social software to achieve ROI http://bit.ly/3aTs #e2.0

#3: RT @technacea OH: “I don’t have a blog – I guess I’m just a nobody”

#4: @LLiu Good one Lawrence. Bookmarked “The Emerging Math/Rules of Social Networks – Magic Numbers” http://bit.ly/S4J5

#5: Atlassian blog takes up the 2009 Email Brevity Challenge: http://bit.ly/TEWg

#6: What would be nice: Summize (er…Twitter search) tracks a conversation. It’d be cool to have a single link to that conversation.

#7: Note – if you make a comment on my blog and mistype/misspell something, never fear. I’ll go in and fix it.

#8: Slate’s nice historical perspective of newspapers’ reactions to disruptive technologies http://bit.ly/JE3I including the 1947 fax machine.

#9: RT @jimmyfallon @joeypfeifer I hope to. I want to see how we can play with [Twitter] on the show maybe. So far, I’m addicted.

#10: Runner geeks, you hear about Palm’s new iPhone competitor The Pre, do you think “Steve Prefontaine”? Can I get a witness?

*****

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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…

Why Professionals Should Continue to Blog in the Era of Twitter

I’ll bet you’re smart.

I mean, you’re likely college educated. Maybe even grad school. You can probably remember some killer instances where you nailed some assignment. That clever C++ hack. The time you delivered an insightful analysis of Vonnegut. Navigated your way through a thorny financial analysis. Came up with an elegant solution  in the chemistry lab.

You’re good. You’ve got knowledge in your field, you’ve got a track record of accomplishments in your job. And you’ve got solid points of view about your field and its future.

And all you want to do is tweet?

A number of people have blogged about the uncertain future of…uh…blogging. I understand where they’re coming from. Here’s how Jevon MacDonald put it:

I don’t know what the fate of blogging is, but as I think about it I wonder if it can survive without changing. Just in the last 2 years we have seen massive uptake in the creation of content by users, but most of it is now outside of the blogosphere. Status Updates on Facebook, Twitter, new levels of photo sharing and geolocation based services and networks are all becoming the centerpiece of attention.

His point is that with the ease of Twitter and Tumblr, the relevancy of and desire to blog is diminishing. He’s not alone, it’s a theme that’s been popping up in the last several months.

To which I say:

If you’re a professional who’s just going to twitter, you are missing a golden opportunity to help yourself via blogging.

This post is geared towards those who have day jobs, and for whom blogging and tweeting is an extension of their professional lives.

OK, smart reader, let’s talk about this.

A Blog Is Your Stake in the Ground

Twitter is wonderful. I’ve been tweeting it up the past few months myself. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the power of Twitter. As I said in a recent post:

Twitter has established lightweight messaging as valuable and addictive. From the simple roots of “What are you doing?”, people have morphed Twitter into a range of use cases. Open channel chats. News updates. Sharing articles and blog posts found useful. Polls. Research. Updates peers on activities and travels.

It’s great for what it is. And an important part of your professional persona and career development.

But blogs are the professional’s curriculum vitae. They are a standing record of strong thin king about a subject. When you devote the time to put together a blog post covering your field, you’re likely doing this:

  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Linking to others
  • Establishing your voice
  • Influencing the thinking of others
  • Showing the ability to pull together longer form thinking, a requirement in professional work

My own experience is that if you blog, every so often you pop out a signature piece. The kind of post that resonates with others and establishes your position in your field. These blog posts receive a lot of views, get linked to and turn up in Google searches. When you get one of these, congratulations! You have successfully put your flag in the ground for your field.

Tweets don’t do that. Tweets create a tapestry of someone, they foster ambient awareness. This has value in its own right. But they’re not vehicles for heavier thinking. They don’t demonstrate your capacity to size up an issue or idea and bring it home.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn now lets you add blogs to your professional profile. What’s going to be more valuable to you when people are running searches? Tweets or well-thought blog posts?

There’s a Flow to This

I know this is definitely early adopter stuff. The number of professionals spending time tweeting and blogging is still limited. But I suspect this is going to happen:

Those who can work blogging and some twittering into their regular activities are going to earn more money and get promoted faster.

I can’t wait until some academic study comes out about this.

Here’s how I see the way Twitter and blogging mix:

professionals-social-media-flow

Tweets engage you in a flow of information, they let you pick up signals and connect with others in your field. From all that, you gain a healthy perspective on what’s happening in your industry. Once you write a post, you’ll find yourself energized to engage once again via Twitter. And on goes the cycle.

The mere act of writing out research, analysis and opinion is amazingly valuable. No burdens for how that memo plays with your boss, or keeping your thoughts on-topic for the upcoming meeting. Just you and your blog, working through what interests you.

Could You Really Tweet These?

As an example, I’ve selected three posts from this blog. They were some that really worked out there. And I’ve tried to convert them into a tweet. Take a look:

blog-posts-with-tweet-alternatives

There’s no replacing the permanence or deeper thinking that blogs provide.

So What Are You Waiting For?

That’s my view on why you should keep on blogging even as you tweet. Let’s take this one out with quotes from three bloggers:

Bill Ives:

TwiTip recently had a post on Ten People All Twitter Beginners Should be Following by Mark Hayward. I will let you guess who is on it and then go to the post. It is no surprise that a number of top bloggers are one the list.

With the continuing evolution of tools, blogging is becoming more focused on what it does well – moving beyond sound bytes and providing a permanent accessible record of thought.

Eric Berlin:

Here’s my new thinking: probably the best and most successful bloggers will also tend to be the best blogger/microblogger hybrids, and vice versa.

Steven Hodson:

For us this means less competition and less noise for us to fight our way through in order to get through to the readers. This of course is my first reason why bloggers should be thankful for services like Twitter and FriendFeed – they help clear out the noise makers.

*****

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Fish Where the Fish Are: Extend Your Blog’s Reach through LinkedIn

This is controversial, but here goes: I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume at all.

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

Seth Godin, Why bother having a resume?

It appears LinkedIn has taken this advice to heart. LinkedIn already has recommendations. Now LinkedIn has opened up its site to let third parties build apps for users. There are nine apps to start with. There are two apps letting you add documents to your profile, which touches on Seth’s “projects” advice above.  And two of those apps allow you to add your blog to your profile: WordPress and SixApart.

Which is interesting…two blog apps in the initial nine? What’s that telling you?

In the professional world, blogs are a great way to:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge
  • Stay current on your field
  • Explore new ideas
  • Connect with others

Out in the wild, there are millions and millions of blogs. The smart advice for bloggers is to stick with it, seek out others and engage in conversations. That’s something that should regularly be part of the blogging life. You’ll learn a lot.

But, it’d be nice to know your professionally oriented blog was reaching others who might open career paths. Which is why LinkedIn’s move to add blogs is so exciting.

Here’s how I picture things as they are, and as they can become:

I know the long-term trends favor recruiting via the blogosphere. But for the next few years, I’m not expecting recruiters to get out there and find candidates based on their blogs. They’ll still go to places where there are concentrated areas of people with relevant experience. LinkedIn has become one of those go-to places.

That being said, recruiters, or more likely, the clients for which they are recruiting, can see a much better picture of you outside of the list of jobs you’ve had.

This adds a new dimension to the reasons for you to blog. Bloggers can get caught up in things like traffic, frequency of posts, comments and making sure their blogs are part of the big social media sites. It’s just human nature.

But now, your blog becomes something more. It becomes a record for how you think, what topics are your passion and opinions on events affecting your field. Even if no one reads your blog out in the blogosphere, you’re still making a case for your talents. And there’s no need to have a high frequency. Whatever you last posted shows on your profile, whenever that was.

A friend recently asked me about blogging. She’s in the non-profit world now, and wants to transition to the business world. I told her one thing blogging can do is get you out of the box that your past work experience and education put you in. Through blogging, you can demonstrate the aptitude to handle work in a new field.

Hats off to LinkedIn for adding these apps. Great addition, and something more people should take advantage of.

*****

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