Posts Tagged best practices

Two tenets for a successful social business program

Posted by on Thursday, 13 February, 2014

Guiding LightOwnership, and focus of vision. Those are the two recurring themes I’ve seen these past few years which are necessary to run a successful social business program; both of these will be your guiding light moving forward with any social business strategies or activities.

First up is the idea of ownership. What I mean by this is the transfer of control from a department or project lead to the individuals contributing to social engagement. In most cases this revolves around subject matter experts being enabled and encouraged to participate in their own ways, with their own voices, and around things for which they have passion. Of course, giving people this ownership is easier said than done…. What I have found to be effective is to work directly with people who want to become involved in social business and work with them to define their own vision and purpose. Sometimes that can be a single conversation, from which comes a clarity and inherent ownership over their participation.

Which, of course, leads me into the focus of vision. This discussion of focus actually plays tightly with ownership as the conversations around vision will serve to increase an individual’s personal ownership of their efforts, moving them from an attitude of “additional work” to one of passion and exuberance for engaging in conversation. But what do I mean when I say “focus of vision”? This is a multi-fold idea which can be encapsulated in a few questions posed to anyone who asks me what they should do to become more involved:

Question one: What is your purpose for engaging in social business?
This may sound simple, but the answers can be rather complex. Recall that social business is not an end state, it isn’t a goal in itself, and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather it is a tool that can help you achieve defined business goals or address identified business problems. Once you are able to identify and verbalize the goals you are working to achieve, you will be able to begin looking to see how social business as a tool can work to your benefit. With these goals understood, the clarity of vision, you purpose will begin to permeate your engagement as a framework for everything you do, say, and share. A guiding light, if you will, that keeps you on track and on course to see the results you need.

Question two: Who is your audience?
Your clarity of purpose should help to answer this question as it will narrow your view and begin focusing in on the right people to engage with in order to achieve your goals. If your goal is to improve client satisfaction, then your audience may only be your existing post-sales client base and your efforts focused on helping them with product issues or education. If, however, your business goal is to increase sales, then you can see how your audience cap grows exponentially from post-sales clients to anyone who may be a potential client, as well as maintaining the client base you already have. Knowing with whom you want to engage with socially will go far in helping you to form the right messaging, the right tone, and the right conversations to build towards your end goals.

As an SME, an individual contributor, being able to answer these two questions will take you far in defining your own engagement in social business. With both an understanding of your audience and your vision/goals, you’ll be able to begin seeing the right steps to take, the right ways to engage, the right tone and timber of voice, and use that framework to guide your activities and conversations. More importantly, from a program manager perspective, being able to define those goals and understanding of audience will give your SMEs a deeper sense of ownership and responsibility to engaging in the right ways. It gives them control and over how they engage and serves to help them see their overarching reasons for engaging in the first place.

Of course, as social business program managers, these questions (and answers) should always be at the top of your mind, not only as you are engaging in social conversation, but especially as you are defining your social strategies and activities. They give you the frame-work to know if you should or shouldn’t engage in a particular way, or if a project being presented will be an effective use of your time and resources. If you take nothing else away from this post, let it be this: If someone asks you what they should be doing, or is asking you to take on a social project, make sure they can answer the two questions of goals and audience before going further.

You should start blogging NOW: A lesson in the benefits of blogging

Posted by on Thursday, 24 October, 2013

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I had a practical lesson in the benefits of blogging on Friday morning. During a routine skip-level conversation with my program director, I was able to impress upon him some answers to his questions by referring to a few blog posts I’d published that week and prior in the past few months. Even as I was pointing him to those entries did I realize the value of blogging: I had content available, on demand that I was able to quickly reuse to address a few questions in a relatively concise fashion. Not only did these posts immediately address his questions, but more so they showed that I was a step ahead of the game, that I’d already been thinking about the issue before he even asked. In this way, blogging for me has become a source of reusable self-generated content I can rely upon to either provide solutions or supplement larger strategy conversations and stands as testament to my expertise around my job and is now working its way to being a solid piece to my resume.

But that’s not how it started for me. In the beginning, my blog was like any other: a simple place to wax philosophic or rant a bit, to flex my creative writing muscle now and again, and to simply keep in practice with writing. When I first began to see how blogging on professional topics could be valuable (without really knowing how), I started with some opinion/editorial pieces here and there purely with the intent to voice my opinion. While I do watch traffic out of a data driven curiosity, I’ve not tracked visitors or clicks on my personal blog. Traffic was never the intent for me (and that shows based on the low volume of comments on my posts). But I kept posting for me, for a make-believe audience, and sometimes even for a small specific audience of readers whom I know will benefit without any mind to a return on my investment.

After I began posting more professionally related articles, I’ve found I’m referring back to them more and more often as others are coming on board and becoming more active in social business. I’ve also seen a few of what I’d consider my more boring technical posts pull in consistent visitors month to month. As a knowledge manager and social business program manager, the reuse of publicly available information in this clear and transparent fashion makes me very happy and proves to me the value of blogging.

So, what are the lessons and advice I can pull from my experiences to help you?

  • Start now. Begin publishing short posts, find your voice and rhythm.
  • Build a small archive of posts and try to have a few ideas in your pipeline, preferably a post or two ready to publish.
  • Value will come from the breadth and depth of your combined posts.  Blogging is not going to provide an immediate return on investment. The value seen from blogging is organic and cumulative.
  • A consistent and expected frequency of posts will help grow your audience. On my professional blog I maintain a post-a-day frequency; here on my personal blog I strive to maintain a once-a-week frequency. Both work for the audiences of each blog.
  • Keep at it, even if it seems like no one is reading. Five engaged and attentive readers are worth more than a thousand click-throughs. Appreciate those who find your content interesting enough to share on their own social channels.
  • Culture changes are most often glacial in pace. Take every single “like”, “plus one”, and especially every comment as a sign of small success. Take those successes to heart and let them be your encouragement to continue blogging!
  • Start. Now!

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Blogging 101 for Subject Matter Experts

Posted by on Tuesday, 1 October, 2013

You’ve heard the call to “get engaged”. I’ve even blogged about the need to become more digitally social in order to build your career. Well, here’s another step to take to further build your own digital eminence: Start blogging as a way to share your expertise and knowledge. To help you do that, here’s a presentation I just posted to slideshare.net

Blogging 101 for SMEs  

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And a HUGE thanks to both Duffy Fron and Kelly Smith for the collaboration on this deck
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