Posts Tagged social business

Personal or Professional: Why not both?

Posted by on Thursday, 3 April, 2014

934897_10200977113927595_398103035_nWhen it comes to social business, there’s little difference between “social media” and “real life”.

Social media has blurred the lines of professional versus personal. Some businesses, like LinkedIn, have attempted to clarify those lines once again by focusing on one side or the other. However, that intended focus isn’t concrete and still causes some blurring to occur. Because of this, I am often asked whether it is advisable for a person to maintain only a single mixed account, or to manage separate personal and professional accounts on sites like twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and Googleplus.

While the general advice is to do what you are comfortable with, I definitely urge to one side of that spectrum and have posted previously on the topic of managing digital personas.

Social media is different from “real life” in one very important way, however: there is no distinction between work and play. Because of this, it is best to think of social business not in terms of work, but rather to see social business as an after-hours cocktail party. This analogy plays out as conversation during cocktail parties runs the gamut of topics from professional to personal; because it is more social than work, the atmosphere is more relaxed, less professional, but can be focused on business or personal endeavors as the conversation flows. In this way, social media provides a virtual platform to engage in conversation at any level with which you are comfortable.

To best use this dynamic in social business, I find it most effective to maintain a single identity. In any of the spaces in which I play, I am simply me. The conversation can take many different directions at any given time, which both provides for a broader scope of topics in which my networks may be interested, as well as build some sense of humanity which a flat professional presence wouldn’t provide. In my experiences, it is that depth of humanity in social media which really builds the connection and relationships in social business that become valuable down the lines as business needs arise and opportunities present themselves.

So when I am asked what my recommendation is, I say: be yourself. Do what you are comfortable with, but do it in an authentic and human way.

 

Of social business and sand castles

Posted by on Thursday, 13 March, 2014

sandcastle_xlibber Where do you find the value in social business?

It’s a common question, especially in the corporate world where every activity needs to show some tangible value to justify its continuance. But, tying direct value to every action isn’t an easy task. In fact, doing so is likely the most difficult task facing social strategists today. Why is this?

The answer, like the question, is both simple and utterly complex. You see, the value from social business is seen in the small connections and conversations we have over time, all of which are grains of sand in what will someday make up a castle. Some castles may be a simple overturned pail shape on a busy public beach, others may be expertly crafted life-sized versions like you see in competitions… but in all cases, it is the connections of each grain of sand which come together to build something bigger than themselves.

Each connection you make, each conversation you have, is another grain of sand in the castle of your social business presence. Like sand castles, the value in social business isn’t as quantifiable as counting the grains of sand that make up the whole. The value is in how they are connected and the view of what they build. Some sand castles are simple and effective at bringing value to the child who built it; providing a sense of accomplishment and purity of fun in the building. Others are built for competition and judged on particular criteria to determine the winner. Yet, neither of these examples nor any that fall in between can be considered to have innate value, or likewise a lack of value.  The value in each of these cases is fluid depending on the goals and purpose for each.

In social business, it is indeed the achievement of your defined goals which will show you the value. I’ve blogged before on the need to define your purpose/goals before setting out on a social business strategy. But, of course, even then not all goals are easily quantified. Increasing influence, building digital eminence, and thought leadership are lofty goals which come with very little in the way of reportable metrics for success, so what can we use instead to show the value with these goals in mind? How can we quantify the beauty of a sand castle?

Stories. It is the connection of each of these grains that work to build the beautiful sand castles, the larger picture if you will, and likewise it is the stories of successes reaped from social business connections which combine upon themselves to show the value inherent in social engagement. So, to that end, I’ll leave you with this story that I’ve posted previously and that I believe exemplifies one of the many benefits of blogging:

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.

See 😉 Reusable, self-generated content to help show the value of efforts. Social business works. To thrive, adopt the role of story-teller and show your audience value rather than just telling them.

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image credit: (cc)  Some rights reserved by xlibber

 

Stop talking, start doing.

Posted by on Thursday, 6 March, 2014

IMG_0562“How do we get employees engaged in social business?”

That is one of the top questions I am asked directly inside and outside of my present company. While the strategic and logistic answers to this question can be rather complex, it is also based in simplicity: stop talking about it, just start doing it.

When it comes to social business engagement, there comes a time when, as strategists, we talk about it all far too much and don’t follow up with any action… and when individual contributors need to stop just listening and start learning while doing. Enablement sessions, slide decks, conference calls, and email threads won’t get us any closer to being socially engaged. So, instead of talking about what we need to do, we need to just start doing it. Leading by example is the first step in driving this kind of organizational change.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Oddly enough, it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, it also takes quite a bit of work, but ultimately getting started and continuing is easy enough. There is no social channel out there that is so complex that you can’t learn it in an afternoon and master it within a week of using it once daily. Even GooglePlus, the most lamented and derided social channel out there takes relatively little effort to understand and maybe an afternoon of reading blog posts to master.

Now, I’m not urging you to get started here. I am telling you this is a necessity to survive. This isn’t just a nice to have anymore; this is the new way of business. As a company, you need to be engaged and involved in dialog with your customers. As individuals we need to be visible, professionally, to stand out and build our careers. I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in tone this blog has taken over the past few years, moving from a personal journal to more of a professional platform; I can assure you this has directly and positively impacted my own career in social business to great effect.

I’ve spoken before on some of the fears that keep people from engaging in social business. Rather than re-addressing those, I’ll put forth this Call to Action, this simple challenge to help you become more social:

  • Create your own GooglePlus account.
  • Circle me.
  • Say hello.
  • Begin sharing like you would on Facebook (interesting articles, opinion/commentary).
  • Circle more of your friends and colleagues as you find them and as they join.

If you take the above steps, I will promise you this: I will engage with you and help you master G+ within a week, you will begin to have more engaged conversations, and your network will continue to grow organically after that week. All of this will result in helping you become more confident and at ease with being active within the social business atmosphere.

But why GooglePlus, I hear you ask? Many people see G+ as a ghost town, an empty social channel where only Googlers are talking to themselves. Well, if we assume that is the case, then what better place to take those first steps where no one will be around to see you falter? You can post to your heart’s content without fear of saying the wrongs things since “no one” will really see it….
That’s a misconception, of course, as there is a LOT of activity on G+; so much so that my own streams have as much content shared in them as I see on Facebook now…. Where G+ shines in this case, however, is for new users who may be wary of becoming social in a professional realm, is in the use of circles. With GooglePlus circles you can share content with only select people, thus reducing the chance that something you say may be seen by the “wrong” people. It allows you to ease into social sharing until you’re comfortable enough with posting publicly so your posts can have far greater visibility.

Of course, once you’re comfortable on G+ and start your own blog, you can easily enable your Google Authorship to help increase your blog’s SEO (search engine optimization) and connect your profile with the content you create. It is a beautiful, organic win that will help build your own eminence in the digital spaces as you grow in social business expertise and skills.

A year from now, you’ll look back and be happy you started today. Keep putting it off and you’ll have wished you’d started ten years ago…. Don’t miss this opportunity to begin building your own influence. Culture change through leading by example; that  is how you drive deeper engagement among all levels of your organization.