Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Social Media "ah-ha" Moments for 2009

As the year quickly comes to a close I start to think about all of the big moments that I will remember from this year. There were so many, and this video using Google Wave does a great job of taking us through those moments.

In my mind, social media played a big role in many of these big moments. Even in my own view of the world of social media I saw a lot of change and shifts of how I used this medium throughout the year. For example, I began to see the true value that came from connecting a voice to a brand through the use of social media. I began to see the power of co-creation and innovation by reaching out and connecting with like minded people and talking with subject matter experts through social media channels.

I had two "ah-ha" moments this year (a phrase I borrow from a former co-worker and friend). One happened during a dining experience where I tasted an amazing wine that I wanted to purchase, but was unable to locate in the retail market. I reached out through my social media channels and within two minutes I had an email from the wine producer and a phone call from the local distributor and was making arrangements for a delivery of the wine to my door before the meal was complete. My second moment happened after I posted a complaint about a certain brand of photo development services and within 4 minutes I had an email from the brand manager to help resolve my issue.

What these "ah-ha" moments made me realize is that there is great power in not only connecting and conversing with others through social media, but there is an even greater power to discover in the exercise of listening through social media.

Are you listening?

Happy Holidays and a Safe and Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

OT Content World 2009 and Social Media!

I spent the last week in Florida at our user conference (Open Text Content World) where the common thread of many conversations and presentations revolved around Social Media in the Enterprise.

I had the pleasure of presenting two sessions; one about Collaboration and Community Management in the Enterprise and the other on making use of real time collaboration tools in the Enterprise. A key take away from both of my sessions was that technology is meant to be the enabler and not the solution. My goal was to help demonstrate that making use of social media tools such as blogs, wikis, ratings, etc..can help foster a more collaborative and open environment in the workplace and can in turn help accelerate employee engagement and productivity. Social Media introduces new ways to engage customers, employees and partners that requires transparency & authenticity.

There was a general consensus with the attendees in my sessions that it was not a question of whether or not they saw the need to introduce more “social” tools to their users to allow them to contribute and build out conversations around content and business processes - the struggle existed in the ability to shift the mindset of users. Many people in the room were more concerned about how they were going to be able to adapt to the use of social media. They understood that this was more than just introducing new tool sets; it represented a culture shift - a shift that needs to happen to make the use of these social tools take on meaning and relevancy in their organizations.

Just for fun: In case you are wondering to what extent social media tools are being used in the world today I invite you to spend some time watching the below graphic of Gary Hayes' Social Media Counts.

I found it quite fascinating to watch these numbers grow. Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pssst..pass the tweet!

Last week I was in Boston attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference. I felt that the conference was well attended (all things considered) and very well put together. My hat's off to the organizers. It was fun to see both customers and my co-workers, both whom I typically only see in a virtual sense through email, blog and wiki posts and chat sessions.

While the bulk of my time was spent on the vendor expo floor talking to people about our latest product offering, Open Text Social Media, I did have a chance to sit in on one session. The session's theme was Social Media in the Enterprise. The session's flow was crowd sourced, with the audience members choosing the content to be discussed from a top 10 list. The topic that was of most interest to me was how to measure the ROI of Social Media. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before we recognize that the value of Social Media is really served up in the way that we can connect people to people to content and that the need for measuring the ROI will eventually fade away into the fabric of collaboration. Is there a ROI for bookkeeping? No. Is there a ROI for facilities management? No. Is there a ROI on producing business cards? No. All of these things are accounted for as a cost of doing business. We may start asking instead, what is the return on ignore? What will happen if I don't embrace social media? That may become the easier thing to measure.

What struck me while I sat in the one session I made time for was how far we had come from last year's conference. Last year Twitter was fairly new to most of us, but this year Twitter seemed to be the stream of concise for the conference itself. Even though I was unable to leave the expo floor, I was able to catch all of the highlights simply by reading through the tweets specific to the sessions. Each session was given a unique hash tag that allowed me to search through tweets by that specific tag. This back channel form of communication really brought a lot of value to me this year. It was interesting to read the different highlights and perspectives on what was being communicated by the presenters as well as the audience themselves.

It's funny since last year it may have seemed rude to be typing away while listening to a presenter, but this year it appeared as though having a laptop with you and making notes was just a natural way to absorb and share the content we were receiving.

As Chris Stubbs wrote in a recent blog post entitled "Making a Game of the Back Channel";

"There was a time not too long ago when, as a presenter, looking out on an audience and seeing this would have lead to the emotional equivalent of being hit in the face of a rotten tomato...Thankfully (or perhaps not so thankfully, depending on your view of human social evolution) seeing a crowd full of faces illuminated by the radioactive glow of their laptops or smart phones is no longer the symbol of disrespect that it once was. It can be, in many cases, the new look of engagement."

What amazed me was the ability of people to multi task in the sessions by both listening to the presenter, tweeting thoughts and perspectives, or simply re-stating a presenters point; as well as taking photos of the slides themselves. Myself, I think I need to practice my skills as I found it very difficult to do all these things at once. I guess I am just one of those people that can't chew gum and walk at the same time.
It made me question whether this behaviour will spill over to other areas such as the class room or the boardroom. It reminds me a little bit of passing notes back in grade school. I am interested to hear others thoughts on the value of back channel communication and your stories about using the back channel to stay informed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Social Media Means What?

Social Media Means What?

There is a multitude of conversations taking place around how to define the term Social Media and as with most buzz words; different people will attach different meanings and value to social media. This is the “not so popular” definition in Wikipedia today, “Social media is information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It's a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologue (one to many) into dialog (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal and business. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”

In my opinion 'Media' is content. Content can be text, audio, visual, drawings etc; and these forms of content can come to us either through, TV, radio, newspapers or it can also come to us from tools like Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube, wikis and blogs. These may each equate to different forms of media, such as newspaper is print media, web content is digital media. But at the end of the day these all fall under the umbrella of “Media”. Media is the vehicle we use to send out information to interested users.

When we attach the term social to media it introduces the personal aspect of interaction to that content. In my mind, content is really just data. Until we apply rich context around that content, either via relationships with people or things, then can the content become more meaningful and equate to knowledge as opposed to just data.

When I speak with people about what it means to make use of social media, particularly in the enterprise space, I like to describe this as having the ability to “socialize” your content. To me that is the value of bringing social media to the work place. As a friend of mine Brian MacLeod says, “Social media has the ability to turn tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.”
I think it makes sense to define social media as a tool set that provides individuals the ability to personalize content creation, the ability to “socialize” content.
Something that we need to keep in mind is that social media is more than just another form of media; it also speaks to something more fundamental in nature, having the ability to socialize our content demonstrates a culture shift in how we interact with other, particularly in the Enterprise. Social media and this organic growth of new media formats that are growing from the ground up also represents a shift in how we do business. It speaks to the “power of we”, and the “wisdom of the crowds”. It represents a change in how people are discovering, collaborating and sharing content.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Wallflower in Bloom

Will Social Media make me a more social person? Is it possible to be both an introvert and extrovert at the same time? Through both my personal and professional experience with social media I would have to say yes. While some may consider me a wallflower, I consider myself a wallflower in full bloom. My comfort level in speaking with people that I don’t know is certainly higher in the online world. Of course it is easier to communicate with others knowing that you have complete anonymity online. In the online world I can easily initiate conversations with others that have similar interests to me, based on what I learn about them online prior to engaging with them.

It becomes easier to develop a real connection based on a common interest and therefore the chance of me being rejected is much less then I may have in face to face encounters. I also find the more comfortable I get in reaching out across the web through various sites like Twitter and Facebook the more social I want to become.

Social media allows me to pick and choose how and when I engage with someone. I can make the engagement as long or as short as I like. When having a face to face conversation we can’t walk away once that person has reached there 140 characters, even though we may want to.

This is not to say that I want to discontinue my real world engagements or that I favor one over the other. There is no substitute for relationships and reputation built up over time through face to face interactions and each enhances the other — neither can survive very well in a vacuum. My point is that we can certainly complement these relationships and build from them.

Social media and social networking can introduce you and help you to connect with individuals that you may not have had an opportunity to meet otherwise. It can bring value to both your personal and professional lives and expose you to face-to-face events that that you are otherwise not exposed to. Relationships developed online can become the basis for real-world business relationships; and can also serve to refresh, enhance and extend real-world business relationships that already exist. After all what we are talking about are people interacting with people.

Social media and or networking (whatever you want to call it) has simply given us a new pervasive way to connect with people and, in doing so, has provided us with new and different means to socialize, connect and make friends. But this can also transcend into something truly valuable in the world of business.

Social media and social computing can deliver significant and quantifiable results within the business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2C) and business-to-employee (B2E) contexts. Building customer loyalty and retention, offering more efficient self-service, and bridging communication gaps among staff and partners: Social media and behaviors enrich these experiences. Social media moves us further towards openness.

So let’s get Blooming!

What are you, introvert or extrovert? Take the test. I came out as a Spontaneous Idealist (SI), in case you were wondering.

To learn more about how we are in Bloom at Open Text visit here?