Collaboration in Action

I’ve been really busy recently moving back from Paris, setting up for freelance contracts and setting up a house here again. Whilst I was sorting through my ‘stuff’ I came across a whitepaper I wrote a couple of years ago whilst I was at theblueballroom. It made for interesting reading so I thought I’d bring it out again and share it.

It looks at social media and collaboration platforms from an internal communicators perspective. A fair bit has changed since this was published but it’s still worth a read. The contents includes an introduction and evaluation of tools such as twitter, wikis, blogs and RSS as well as examining multi-functional collaboration platforms such as SharePoint, Jive, Socialtext and Huddle.

You can download the paper here;

Collaboration in Action

http://www.theblueballroom.com/download.php

If you have any comments on the work please do  add them to this page.

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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 viahttp://fr.linkedin.com/in/kevinmcdougall

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.

Let’s Meetup inside

I love Meetup.com. I first discovered it when I moved to Paris and was looking to integrate myself into several sporting and social scenes. I found it intuitive and search-friendly and extremely social. Within weeks I was going to Yoga classes, booked into group French lessons and found a running club – all through one site. I’ve even started my own meetup group for footballers of various abilities to meet up on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve called it ‘Have a kickabout’. Without Meetup.com finding these groups in a city like Paris would have been much, much harder.

This got me thinking about the role something like Meetup could have within an organistion. Essentially Meetup builds communities and introduces new people to new groups i.e building connections. Isn’t this the holy grail of what organisations are looking for?

The communities are self-building, enabling official groups to be formed whilst also enabling unofficial groups to form. The official groups would be based around work functions and would be more formal. The most interesting group is the unofficial group formation. This, I imagine, is where the real collaboration and innovation would take place. For example, take a hi-tech company where large numbers of staff work on different projects. An unofficial Meetup-style group is started by some enterprising individual to engage the community in topics such as technology/software/process. If the company did not have an arena to discuss these topics, you could potentially have a group meeting up and innovating within the company through shared interests. Again isn’t that an organisational architect’s dream? The flip side is they could all go and set up a start-up. But for the purpose of my point we’ll focus on the positives.

Rolling out a Meetup style function means finding groups employees  are interested in within the organisation is easy, but more importantly, employees would then be able to find who they really need to talk to about something and also HOW to talk to that person.

Handing over a platform like this to an internal audience can only have up sides, especially if making your organisation as social as possible, through different functions and processes, is a strategic goal.

Ten ways to encourage user generated content on your social intranet

  1. Be clear in the goals of the platform from the outset
  2. Define and distribute clear, concise guidelines and reference material
  3. Make sure you use social functions such as share buttons, Like buttons and potentially ratings tools
  4. Use widgets and tools which enable users to share latest comments and view areas of the platform where conversations are taking place
  5. Mix up the content from heavier, serious content to more fun/people focused content
  6. Encourage line managers and leadership to comment and share strong articles published from their reports
  7. Rewards the best contributors publicly – this is different to rewarding the most prolific
  8. Praise and re-share the best articles, comments and discussions in a weekly/monthly roundup of activity
  9. As the manager of the platform create a network in different business units/location through which you can guide and encourage content creation
  10. Create localized editorial committees at the launch and encourage and agree a number of posting per month. This will encourage conversations across different areas of the business on different topic

10 tips on how to build a social intranet

  1. Every decision has to aim to improve two things 1) Connectivity between users 2) Quality and relevancy of content
  2. Don’t plan on your own – use focus groups and online research tools to find out what the USERS want and HOW they want it
  3. Don’t plan as an Editor – plan as a facilitator
  4. Employ an external consultant to add to the development/steering team. You need an objective sounding board and someone who does not have an internal agenda to be involved from the start. Plus, there is always someone who knows more than you
  5. Identify influencers and key users early. These are not always the same as the users you spoke to in the focus groups
  6. Communicate frequently with the intended users…and invite feedback at every stage
  7. Create a plethora of guides and information on the What, Why’s and How’s of the tool – from everything from uploading content to all the relevant personnel behind the tool
  8. Get the leadership team involved in the online discussions early (if that’s key to your objective)
  9. Reward and offer incentives for early users
  10. Ensure search, taxonomies and measurement tools are relevant and well maintained.