Posts Tagged pro-tips

Be a successful social business by being social internally too

Posted by on Wednesday, 13 November, 2013

photo (13)Whenever people talk about social business, almost everyone immediately thinks of company presences on Twitter or Facebook, profiles on LinkedIn, corporate blogging, and/or engaged in conversation in forums. What we all tend to forget (yes, that includes me as well), is that being a social business isn’t just about external activities, it also needs to include the internal frameworks for communication and sharing.

Externally, being a social business means listening to your audiences, being responsive to their feedback, and communicating transparently with them to build trust and affinity. Internally, however, being a social business is much more about enabling deep collaboration and communication across roles/departments/organizations. Using the right tools for the right conversations internally can be a great way to not only improve operational efficiencies, but also begin shifting a corporate culture and to teach social behaviour to an employee base that isn’t ready to be social externally.

Using open and transparent communication tools like blogs, wikis, and forums to collaborate on ideas before transitioning them into actionable work can be a wonderful method for building a more efficient and transparent workforce that is able to access information on-demand when they need it and when they are available to collaborate (an often cited pain-point for globally distributed teams). The various components of IBM Connections provides this great framework on which to build a truly social business.

Full disclosure: Yes, I work for IBM, so I know my unsolicited promotion of this solution is already suspect, but I can also tell you this: I use it internally, in just the methods described above and for the same reasons. If it wasn’t effective for me, I wouldn’t be using it, let alone talking about it and recommending it.

My use of IBM Connections has allowed me to build a network of colleagues and SMEs (it has a great profile news feed to keep abreast of colleagues and their work), maintain documented information in wikis, engage in discussions in forums, and execute work in activities all in an open and transparent method. This allows for any of my team members across the globe to find the information they need, collaborate on their time, and bypass timezone delays caused by emailed 1-1 or 1-few communications. While Connections is a great one-stop tool which provides solutions for a number of business needs, the real key to its success is using it for the right conversations. Because it includes diverse features which enable sharing of information in vastly different ways, it provides the right places to engage in communication.

Even if you don’t have a solution like IBM Connections in place, the key to success as a social business still remains. Use the tools you do have available to consciously move those conversations away from email or closed systems to the more open and transparent mediums. Make use of forums and wikis and blogs to collaborate and drive your work forward. Using social internally will not only help you improve efficiencies, but it will also begin changing your corporate culture and teach you how to be social when you’re ready to move to the external spaces. After all, social business is really nothing new, it’s just about learning how to effectively use the new tools to improve communication across your company and clients.

Your blog posts suck and no one is reading them

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 October, 2013

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Now that you’ve read my post about why you should be blogging, I expect you now have a blog setup and have published a first post to share your knowledge and expertise and are now wondering why no one read it….. ok, I don’t REALLY expect that, but I do want to talk about how to see success as quickly as you can:

One of my awesome colleagues, Erika Horrocks, blogged internally today about “3 reasons your blog post only has 70 views“.  In her post, she touched on the following topics which are problematic to driving traffic, and more importantly, audience engagement once they are reading:

  • You offer no value
  • Your buzz words are boring us
  • Your entry is long and dull
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Restated, you could say that to build a well read blog that drives a lot of traffic and engagement you need to:

  • Offer value. Give your audience something they can use whether it is deeper technical knowledge or a direct call to action
  • Speak in real and clear language. Jargon and buzz words don’t mean anything. Drop the buzz and be human.
  • Be concise and provocative. Bullet points combined with brief story telling can be quite compelling… and don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit, like my title may imply 😉
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Obviously, I don’t quite adhere to these bulleted items all the time.  Concise is just a high scoring word for me if I land it on a TW/TL tile in WordsWithFriends. I also often speak in industry jargon, forgetting that the real meanings behind my ideas are lost that way. These are all reasons why I rarely ever reach even a paltry 70 views on my posts. But, I do also have a few other tricks up my sleeves to ensure some level of visibility greater that what a “build it and they will come” attitude would draw (which is entirely zero by my calculations and observations).

To drive traffic to your blog you NEED the following components:

  • Solid content. This is the value side of the equation. Content is king; without content, there is no reason to bother reading. I want to come away with a sense that I got something from your post that I can use to take some action later.
  • An established or growing network of people who would want to read your content. Without an audience you’re just yelling into the vacuum of the ether; no one can hear you scream there 😉
  • A balanced sense of self promotion. Once you’ve built your content and your network, you NEED to promote it. This is where the “build it and they will come” attitude does you more harm than good. No one is going to come read if they don’t know you’re writing or where to go. You’ve got to let them know about your content.
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The last point there is tricky for me, as I’ve never been comfortable with self promotion, but I’m also guessing that 95%+ of you reading this post didn’t get here because you subscribed to my RSS feed or email list… you saw it because I promoted it, which hopefully helps prove my point here: Once you’ve created your amazing content, you’ve GOT to tell people about it.

 

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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