Social Workplace Conference

As conferences go, I’ve not seen a stronger line up of talent in this country than at the Social Workplace Conference. The speakers and panelists feature pretty cool thought leaders many of whom I’ve been following for a few years now. I’m really looking forward to hearing from the big guys IBM, Oracle, Headshift, SSP  and Verizon as well as from the independent experts like Benjamin Ellis, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with a couple of times and Mark Morrell, who I connected with over Twitter about 3 years ago, discussing either intranets or football – mainly Brighton and Hove Albion.

Coming from a communications background, there’s been a few conferences recently, which I’ve followed on Twitter and thought, this is the same conversation I’ve been hearing for 3-4 years now, when is it going to move on? I’m really hoping this conference will move us on to the next level of content delivery and define the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to of a social workplace, leaving everyone with a clearer understanding of the different elements of a social business, and how these are linked creating systems of collaboration, communications and workflows, which are social in the purest sense.

I’m particularly keen to hear the ‘how’ conversations; how to implement a social strategy into a business, how to drive social behaviour within a business, how to measure the success and how to prepare for the future trends. With sessions such as; Social Workplace: Making of a Socially Connected Enterprise from David Christopher, Social Media Business Leader, Oracle EMEA, Implementing a Social Workplace Strategy: Employees First from Elizabeth Lupfer, Senior Manager, Employee Experience, Verizon US and Social Business Design: Focus on People Powered Processes from Jon Mell, Social Collaboration Leader, IBM North Europe I’m pretty sure the ‘how’ will be well covered. We should then be able to return to the next conference with stories of success and a clearer vision of the future of social business.

Judging from the speakers and panelist that have agreed to take part and the conference agenda, I believe this event could be a defining point in the story of social business in the UK.

I think there are still some spaces left, here’s a link to the registration page – it would be good to see you there.

Internal Communicators and the Social Media issue.

I was following the hashtags from two conferences in London yesterday, one focused on Intranets and one focused on Internal Communications (IC) with a session on Social Media (SM). The intranet focused conference featured more technical conversations on topic such as UX, algorithms and search within an organisation, but most importantly featured discussion on clarity of objectives, whilst the IC conference looked at softer subject such as adoption and ‘how to get employees using social media’.

What was apparent from the feeds is that Internal Communicators could really do with actually working closer/listening to the Intranet folks to get a better understanding of what they are dealing with and to better define their goals. To my mind, very few practitioners actually understanding why they are actually talking about social media, they know they should be talking about it, but they are not sure why.

I think the crux of the problem is that organisations are embedding social technologies across the entire business, using it for different purposes. A few years ago SM was seen a communications tool alone, which is why PR as an industry adopted it so readily, naturally where PR leads IC follows.

The problem is that at the time Internal Communicators picked up the SM baton when talk was about SM as a collaboration tool was a really hot topic (still is), which is where the confusion lies. Internal Communicators don’t actually know, what they should be focusing on, should they be focusing on more efficient ways of messaging and sharing messages, enabling fluid social channels for feedback, or should they also be focused on enabling collaboration tools (my thinking is that they are stakeholders in this area, not owners). Now social customer service is upon us, does the IC team feel the need get involved in that because it’s Social?

How this can be address;

Stop using Social Media as one umbrella concept – define what the Internal need is and set the appropriate objective.

From the defining the objective, focus on what you are the about is clearer feedback channels through the organisation, is it an awareness campaign for the news strategy, If it’s collaboration or community building, set up a working group, don’t for second think this is just an IC issue,whatever is let’s not call it a SM campaign

I’m pretty sure if Communicators took as step back to define what they really need from social media, then we would move past the stage which Internal Communications seems to be stuck at right now.

If you would like me to help you define your social objectives please get in touch @kev_mcdougall or via

Disrupt our Hospitals

Due to a family illness I spent the end of last week in a hospital in the UK. I’m still shocked at the communication tools on offer both for staff and for patients, I understand there is no money in the country let alone the NHS to fund such improvements in ”the patient experience, but surely there is enough research into the ‘healing powers’ of community, interaction and engagement for individuals who are suffering and going through a difficult period.

I’ll focus on the patients on the wards I walked through first, these were normal wards you see in every hospital, being in the Cotswolds it probably wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen (Royal Sussex, I’m looking at you), but the level of boredom on the patient’s faces was unbelievable. Not surprising really given that they could only really read the Daily Mail or The Sun or stare at the other patients. Surely it’s in the longer term best interest for everyone to keep these patients occupied and engaged in the outside world whilst they are in the ward. Yes, ok they are supposed to be resting but no-one will force any mass participation of online activity. So what am I suggesting, here goes;

Specially designed Terminals which offer internet access, software which enables the patient to learn about their issues (what is going on and what will need to be done in the future), a sort of opt-in social network enabling patients to find others who have similar issues and start the building or integrating into a support network after they leave the hospital. Even something as basic as finding other patients with similar interests would surely go along way to keep spirits up.

Cost is prohibitive, but I’d really like to see a study on recovery period and interactions and communications over a set period.

The other side is why-oh-why aren’t Nurses and Doctors walking around with ipads continually logged onto patient database which is updated immediately, after every visit, consultation or change in the patient? We endured the nightmare of watching our relative move wards only to find out the Nurses on the second ward didn’t actually know the full extent of her problems. This would not have been the case had the staff been empowered with technology and not tied up carrying clipboards and notes around with them.

Given that the last national NHS digital implementation went something like 11 million over budget and was delivered 2 years late I’m not holding my breath for any change any time soon.

Good news for Facebookers

The new Facebook metric ‘People Talking About This’  is an absolutely gem of a metric allowing  content managers and marketers a true insight into what is working and what is not when they add content on Facebook . The old methods of looking at number of impressions, likes and reach of users is still valid, that, plus the announcment of an Insights API for developers enabling custom metrics shows Facebook are really getting their teeth into understanding core metrics aimed at all the different stakeholders on a brand’s page.

As a content producer I’m looking forward to getting a better understanding of what content is being shared and as importantly by who and where, this will enable me to find tweak content accordingly until I hit the sweet-spot. As a user of Facebook  I’m looking forward to more relevant content comming my way, apart from an enlightened few posts, a lot of my stream was being clogged up with sales announcements etc, I see email as the medium for this. I want engaging content in my social areas.

The only issue I have is that, is that when a comment is made on the post, that is then classified as being shared  (as it will appear in users friends feed) It could often contain negative comments, yet this would still be included. I’m not sure if there are plans to drill down into that?

All the same it’s a positive move in the right direction.

When networks clash

I’ve been thinking about networks a lot recently, being freelance sort of makes you even more focused on the nuances of networks and how they work. Whilst exploring the different sort of networks and applying them to communities and then social platforms, I discovered all the networks types I found are based on a collection of group interactions and decisions, for example, an organisation as a network, bar disasters,  can pretty much control their destiny – no demand for your product, simple change your product  – no demand for your services in location X, simple, target a new geography.

This got me wondering if there was any research into networks and how they operate when they are faced with external change on a constant basis. I’m thinking in particular about sports team here. For example, the home team would go out to play a match, with a clear strategy in mind, every connection in the network knows the role they play. This is fine, but then the opposing team will have a different strategy and will not simply let the home network (team) function as they desire, they will disrupt the network at every opportunity (as will the home team to the opposition). Both networks then have to adjust in real-time and consistently (as you never know what is happening each second) over a short but intense period of play. Surely, this makes both networks the most advanced networks in existence?

The key thing here is that individual decision have a huge effect on the network, far more than any other network. The implications are massive if one connection, can’t update data (ie opposition passage of plays and movements) and adopt the ever-changing network strategy. I can’t think of another network where this happens, traders could come close, but they don’t really operate in the same kind of network but they have to update and adapt in real-time however, it seems to be against the less factors at the same time. Or maybe not.

I’m going to look into high pressure, constant change networks and write a detailed article in the future – this fascinates me.