Archive for April, 2013

On being a social business

Posted by on Wednesday, 24 April, 2013

loudspeaker_woodleywonderworksOne of the biggest misconceptions I come across on a daily basis is the idea that being social on a professional level means always talking about the company or selling the product to further the business.

Being a social business doesn’t mean just talking about the business. In fact, in most cases it means rarely talking about your product or service using the 80/20 guidance: that is, 80% of the time, talk about other things, highlighting other people and content, while talking about your content and business only 20% of the time. This balance of topics will help keep you from becoming that company shill we’ve all seen on the social channels, you know, the one who only talks about themselves or their business.

Now, I can hear you as: “but how does NOT talking about your business bring business results?”

Simple, actually. Regardless of your role in any organization, being active socially around your expertise helps others see you and recognize you as knowledgeable in your field. This is what I have been referring to as digital eminence previously. This digital eminence not only reflects on you as an individual, but also on your employer and others with whom you associate. It is that digital eminence which helps build trust within your network as well as in your extended networks. It is that trust based on identification of expertise which has a long-term business impact and brings real value to any organization.

So, when you hear me talk about being a social business, it doesn’t mean that the business is posting on social networks. No, it means that the employees are engaged in social conversation around their particular areas of expertise and helping to solve problems or share knowledge using social tools. It doesn’t matter if that area of expertise is directly related to the product or service provided by the business, as the digital eminence of the individual still works to improve the eminence of the business as a leader in its space.

Don’t just broadcast company lines; have conversations around your specific expertise and see what being a social business is really all about.


image credit: Some rights reserved by woodleywonderworks

Improve your personal digital eminence by adding value

Posted by on Monday, 15 April, 2013

IMG_0962I’ve written on this topic before and in multiple spaces. I first touched on the idea back in January 2011 with this post over on the Notes from Rational Support blog: On Personal Digital Eminence. In that post I set for a simple call to action for “both IBMers and the public alike: Get out there and distinguish yourself in your space”. Many of you heeded that call, saw the value, and have begun sharing more in the social spaces and really building your own eminence, even taking the more specific actions of claiming your own name space to improve your digital eminence!

Today, rather than selling you on the value of creating your online eminence and thought leadership, I want to talk to you about a single small refinement that has the largest impact when sharing online.

One of the key items in the IBM Social Computing Guidelines is the idea of “adding value”. This means asking yourself before posting if this is going to add any value to the conversation, or if it will add value by creating a conversation worth having. Now, I think most of us can rationalize some sort of value into nearly everything we post today, so I’d like to touch on how to improve this notion of “value add”.

The single most effective and easiest way to add value is to provide some sort of context or commentary when sharing any link. Have you see people share only a link with no other text around it? How often have you clicked on those links? I’m willing to say rarely to never. You may also be thinking that most of what you reshare from others is self-explanatory; and in many cases it quite well could be. But, unless it is an eCard meme, I’m guessing there’s value you can add to anything you share or reshare… especially if you are sharing in a more professional context. Let’s take the following example which shows how I added value to a share that was already potentially self-explanatory:

In the example below, Susan shared Robert’s post on G+. Since I don’t follow Robert, Susan’s share gave me immediate value as the content was interesting to me… but when it comes to resharing, how could I add even more value to Robert’s post and Susan’s share? Simple: I added my own perspective as to why this post has value for me:

gplus_context_share    .

Adding your own insights or context does a few things to add value here: One, it provides a reason for your audience to pay attention and click-through to the link or content you found interesting enough to share. Two, it begins to build up your own digital eminence as people begin to understand your views and insights on what interests you. And as a third tangential benefit, adding context and commentary like this surfaces you in Google search results lending even more weight to your personal digital eminence.

Don’t believe me? Need a real world example? Try Google searching on the phrase “digital eminence” and you’ll find that my content is not only one of the top 3 results, but two of the highlighted images are also from my own posts. Results which have come directly from adding value when sharing these posts from myself or by others.

If you want those same kind of results (or better) for yourself start adding your own commentary and context to the content you share. Soon, you’ll find your own name popping up in search results like this too! It really is the single easiest and best way to build your own digital eminence around the topics which interest you… you’ll thank me when a hiring manager does some quick searches and hires you into that new role because YOU show up in the results.


To succeed in business, don’t do what I do.

Posted by on Wednesday, 10 April, 2013

Every one of my colleagues will tell you: when it comes to my accomplishments I vastly understate them, and tend to overstate my failures. Time and time again, this has hindered me in the business world where the culture rewards exactly the opposite. In fact, I owe most of my success to my colleagues who (luckily for me) promote my results and achievements on my behalf, ensuring some meager success in my career.

Success in social business, however, is something entirely different. Oddly enough, I think this very same behaviour which works to my detriment in traditional business  has been a key player to my success in social business: the lack of focus on my own achievements, and more focus on helping and/or highlighting others’ successes and accomplishments.

Unlike traditional business culture, the social-media culture tends to reward this altruistic nature of sharing while similarly demonizing the overt self-aggrandizement. Those who are seeing great success in social business are the ones who are sharing not only their own content, but more readily the content of others. In the social spaces, ego is damned while the authenticity of altruistic sharing is lauded.

With that, I’d like to share this TED talk on what motivates people in work. Specifically, I’d like to call out the idea and connection here that motivation to engage in social business can come from more than just individual personal benefit, and that success in social business will be seen when more people are engaged as the builders rather than observers/evaluators: