Case Study Enterprise 2.0

New Social Media Case Studies

Newly added to Social Media Case Studies the Hot List – I really must sort this list out soon!

Namecheap O’Reilly study on using Twitter to drive sales not really social media but good article on usability and doubling conversion rates by using ClickTale to gather the right data and making changes to forms

No Reservations / SnapMyLife – neat study on using mobile photo sharing to keep a TV show’s audience engaged

Schindler’s ‘Killer Elavators’ not really a case study but a very good example of where open communications using social media inside and outside the corporation would be kind of useful

Barack Obama Strategy Slideshare on the Obama campaign – neat round up of what was used when and by whom in the campaign

Australian Bushfires humanity at its best and most ugliest – Twitter, mashups and mobs on Facebook

Webinars and lead generation. Are they worth the effort? Yes! Says Eric Glazer and he has numbers to back it up

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Google Mail Panic? – Not with Thunderbird!

Twitter is going berserk as Gmail is down. Funny that it works just fine via Thunderbird!

Download Thunderbird and set for IMAP

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Theory

Critical Media – freewill and the web

One element of social media that intrigues me is the apparent lack of engagement between Theory minded people and industrial (for want of a better word) social media. I suspect, in fact I strongly suspect that I’m missing a lot of what’s going on here, but when I search on say Baudrillard and Web 2.0 I don’t get the level of response I’d expect. OK, there’s a level of engagement here, but there’s not the richness I’d expect. Maybe it’s a case of those looking at social media through critical theory eyes not knowing how to optimise their pages for Google and the like.

Jamboree of Contemporary Thought

looking for power

A lack of SEO savvy is not something one would expect to see amongst the evidently technical able of the world of blogs and Twitter and so I believe that any absence of using continental philosophers to understand social media and web 2.0 is literally that, an absence. My interest in all this is academic, literally. I took the Critical Theory MA at Nottingham University in the early 1990s, a course which took in Structuralist and Post-Structuralist, Marxist, Feminist, Lacanian, Deconstructionist and classical Critical theorists in a roller-coaster jamboree of contemporary thought.

Postmodern economies

When I moved to tech and the multinational environment it was familiar. Writers such as Jameson, Lash and Urry had described what the latter called “The End of Organized Capital” and it was great to be in this white hot heat of a genuine technological revolution. Mid recession there may be a case for wondering if our postmodern, post-industrial society is a post mortem for a wealth creating, growth based economy but I’ll leave that for another post.

Discovery vs Creation

So back to Theory and what sparked off this post. Over at CenterNetworks, Adrian Chan has written a piece called “A Short Post on Discovery vs. Creation, Relating to Social Media“. This is a remarkable little essay and one that has gotten me thinking a great deal about the relationship between Theory and social media.

Foucault and the Subject

What Adrian posits is the relationship between Michel Foucault’s concept of self(s) and the way we find and act in social media. By self, we’re talking about the ‘Subject’ i.e. that philosophic bête noire of the self and the birth of individual identity. Adrian sees Foucault as having the Self as either revealed, as in religious revelation, or as created as act of will:

the Self that is discovered and known through some kind of religious quest and search. And the Self that is created, invented, through free will, action, choice (and so on). 

If I recall rightly, I’m not so sure Foucault has a sense of self-created in this way. I think he would say that it’s constructed, made from discourse and is highly transient. In a sense, Foucault is trying to unstructure identity from the Structuralist ideas of his peers – we’re part of a changing matrix of discourses, not an order of structures. 

Tagging things and connections

But says Adrian, it’s in terms of such structures that we see social media, or it sees us. It’s like that because the way many approach the web is one based on the notion of a structure of sameness and relationship. This is the model of the dating site and of tagging – this attribute is shared, this connection is made, the structure of things defines our relationship. But as Adrian points out, such a model is profoundly anti-human:

But in each case, we have only a system of things and attributes.

Human relationships aren’t build on similarity or identity of attributes. They’re a result of interaction, of understanding, of the things we do that move us and by which we move one another.

Agency and dialogues

To counter this, Adrian puts forward a model of ‘agency’. We as concious humans act, interact, create stories and converse. We create the dialogue, it does not create us. Or at least in Theory. What I think this leads us to is a chance at change. To act on and to change structures and dialogues of the web, rather than us being defined by them. Or as Adrian defines in superlative form:

Social media may be a means of production. But we are still the production of means.

This whole question of the Subject and its apparent death, is one that excites a lot of contemporary thought. For many this death is pretty pessimistic stuff. If we’re entrapped in a web of meanings, where can human agency and action be? For an answer, James Heartfield‘s book “Postmodernism and the ‘Death of the Subject’” is a pretty good counter and a tasty excerpt can be found here. Wikipedia on the Subject

Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

McKinsey’s Six of the Best for Web 2.0 Work

mckinseyStraight in after Deloitte, McKinsey enter the fray with a piece ‘Six ways to make Web 2.0 work‘ that I can only describe as ‘awesome’. And I use that word advisedly and often chuckle when my North American pals use it for what we’d describe in London as ‘jolly good’. So why awesome?

It’s awesome because it’s so right on the mark and provides practical real politik advice. This is not a ‘how-to’ guide as much as what’s needed to get things working and working well. To see what I mean, just look at the list:

6 of the Best
1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.
2. The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale.
3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used.
4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets.
5. The right solution comes from the right participants.
6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.

No winning formula
This advice is centred on what works – getting it right is not formulaic, it’s about making sure people are happy in their risk, are getting credit and reward even in terms or their egos and that it’s about making sure 2.0 is right in the heart of the relevant workflows.

Controlled Disruption
And I particularly liked their concept of ‘controlled disruption’. Yes total laissez faire can lead to troubles, but there needs to be risk to make success:

Acceptance of Web 2.0 technologies in business is growing. Encouraging participation calls for new approaches that break with the methods used to deploy IT in the past. Company leaders first need to survey their current practices. Once they feel comfortable with some level of controlled disruption, they can begin testing the new participatory tools.

Consultant for hire
If you’re reading this and want to know how to make these technologies a success in the business, please fell free to get in touch – I’m looking for work in this area and can help you make it a success.

Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

12 tips for a successful internal comms video channel

trivet-oskayIn a previous role I was lucky enough to manage an Internal Comms video channel aimed at our field sales force. The channel’s aim was to deliver short video messages that were business-aligned, relevant, timely and targeted. Topics covered in these videocasts included sales updates, product launches, new marketing initiatives and company meetings.

I’d like to share our best practice findings with you. These are all based on practical first-hand experience and I believe, are relevant for any IC video channel, either as push, pull, streamed, video podcast or download. If you have any other tips or correction/qualifiers here, please let me know – I’ve jotted these down as pointers and I’m more than sure that there’s a lot I’ve missed out here! Enjoy…

12 Tips for Internal Comms Video

  1. Before you do anything, decide on the aims and objectives. Ask how the video channel will support your overall comms strategy and as a result the overall business strategy.
  2. Back up the aims and objectives with strong and agreed governance. Get senior buy-in to support it and make sure your stakeholders agree with it. Publish the governance.
    This will ensure the channel maintains focus and does not get used for off-piste aims such as self-promotional egocasts, superficial ends or irrelevant content.
    And remember – the more successful, the more you will need that governance!
  3. Content is king. An informative, entertaining and interesting video from someone with a web cam, will always beat boring studio-quality crap sub-optimum content. Even though content matters most, that’s still no excuse for not doing your best. Produce to the highest quality you can, with the time and money available. Always avoid basic Nobo mistakes such as presenters in patterned shirts and ties, clutter in the background, noisy interference or filming in front of a window.
  4. Don’t use video for the sake of it. Always ask ‘why use video?‘ and whether your aim will be be met with other formats. This can save time, money and ensure that the video channel maintains quality plus it keeps to the stated aims.
  5. Make all content relevant. No one will click on a video and watch it unless there’s something important in it that they will gain from. It doesn’t matter how well it’s filmed, scripted or delivered, if it hasn’t got relevant content it won’t get watched. Always put your audience needs first.
  6. The close cousin of relevancy is the target audience. When you tell people the video is available, use targeted messaging or pull technology such as RSS. Don’t spam. Even if you think the content is great and relevant to everyone they might not agree. The more that you spam them, the more likely they are to avoid your video in future. I’ll say it again, always put your audience needs first.
  7. It may be fahionable to be late but your audience wants punctuality. Decide on the frequency and make sure content is up to date. Don’t send out too many videos – your audience are at work and haven’t got the time. Decide on a max frequency for sending videos out and stick to it. If you must have lots of videos, consider storing them in a YouTube type site and send out a regular compendium update.
    Don’t be late – if it’s time-sensitive info and going to take 3 weeks to make and send the video out, the chances are that it’s going to be out of date by the time your audience see it. Bearing in mind that you might just might miss a deadline, avoid the presenter mentioning dates whenever you can and never ever have them saying ‘next Tuesday’. The chances are it will be watched by X% on the Wednesday after.
  8. Make it short. All the evidence says that online attention span is short, especially for video.If people get bored they will switch off. We found that 3 minutes was best with 4 minutes the max for sales-update video messages. If you’ve a longer event say a video of a company meeting, break it up into bite-sized chunks.
    nb This does not apply to training videos for Systems Engineers who will happily watch one of their colleagues talking about something technical for an hour or more.
  9. Script it/structure it. Even if the video is informal and very short, have a script if at all possible. A speaker may be very good delivering live ad hoc talks, but that isn’t necessarily going to work on an online video. Also, some presenters are more interested in themselves than either the content or their audience. Scripts will keep both the presenter and your video relevant and focused on your stated aims and objectives.
  10. Make it easy – make it linky. If you’ve done a good job and sent a timely, interesting and relevant message to your audience, they will want more. They will either want to learn more, or to do something with the info you’ve given them. Add tangible pointers to next steps – links to sites, documents and to you. Always provide easy feedback links!
  11. Measure it. See how many people watched the video. Ask people what they thought of the channel overall and for each video message. Ask them via feedback rating stars, online polls or simply by asking them. Look at what works and what doesn’t. Look at what your audience decides to watch rather than what you send them.
    Compare all data with the overall aims. Don’t do this once, but look at what’s been achieved on a regular basis.
  12. Use your data and audience feedback to experiment and improve the channel. Keep it fresh and don’t rest on your laurels. Try new approaches and ways of delivering it. But whatever you do, always make sure the camera is on and is recording. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen and senior vice presidents do not think it’s funny!
Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Harnessing ‘Enterprise Social Networking’

Facebook for the Fortune 500

Following on from my post on what we should call social media inside the firewall “What should we call ‘Intranet Social Media’?” My peers (and Twitter pals) from various enterprises in Europe and the Americas have suggested the following: Collaborative Media, Business Networking Media, IntraSocial Media, Collaboration 2.0 and Social Computing. Now Deloitte have waded in with an article dubbing it ‘Enterprise Social Networking‘ (ESN), or more catchily ‘Facebook for the Fortune 500’.

dancefloor-gagliasReady steady….go?

2009 Deloitte predict, may well be a breakaway year for ESN but they hedge their bets with the proviso of if… This ‘if’ haunts the analysis of both Gartner and Forrester too and now with Deloitte joining the throe, they too proclaim a simultaneous red/green scenario:

the exact extent of adoption may still be unclear. Some commentators claim enterprises are generally not yet deploying social networks; various Fortune500 CEOs believe the opposite.

Primed and ready

What’s going to determine this is when (not if) a big breakthrough is made by one competitor that outstrips their rivals that is a clear demonstration of the productive power of ESN. To gain a clear footing in this market, Deloitte urge that early readiness for a primed market:

Telecommunications operators and IT solutions providers need to invest in ESN so they have the expertise and credibility to deploy these solutions if or when they become more broadly adopted, and start becoming a more significant source of revenues.

ESN Consultancy

Whatever we call it, if anyone is reading this and thinks progressing collaboration, communication and social media inside the firewall is a good idea, but are not quite sure how to do it, then please feel free to get in touch. After deploying these technologies for almost a decade for one of the big 5 IT companies, I’m now starting to actively look for enterprise social networking consultancy work.

Case Study Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

How to make a bean online!

Cat Poo Coffee

kopi-luwakAs promised on Twitter, this blog entry is all about coffee beans and how one business is making money online selling them. Two days ago I started to Google for some coffee beans as I was getting low and quite fancied trying some ‘cat poo’ coffee, Kopi Luwak. A few Googles soon put me off that idea as it was around £50 for a small 50g bag. However, I did still need coffee so started to look at some sites.

Not all like the High Road coffee shops

The searches revealed a mirror of the high street coffee shops – lots of them and a high degree of uniformity in the coffees they provided and the design of the sites. One site stood out though and that was HasBean. What I liked about it was the range of coffees and most particularly the fact that someone who obviously knows a lot about coffee was writing the copy for the site. Here’s an example:

In the cup, I got fruit salad sweets on the front end (for those who don’t know these are very sweet fruit chews), and a lovely acidity to match that is not over powering but completely in balance with the whole cup. This is what this coffee does best, it is balanced in the cup. This  develops into a winey, complex, rich flavour, followed by a sweet sweet aftertaste that just carries on and on and on.

And not only do we get splendid reviews, we also get a history of the plantation, a map of its location showing where the beans grow and pictures of the growers. El Salvador La Ilusion Cup of Excellence No.1.

Mr HasBean on Twitter

Back at Twitter I commented on Has Bean, remarking that their site stood out over the rest of the paid search companies. Noticing new followers I checked to see who they were and saw a certain @hasbean was in the list. Saying hello I asked Mr HasBean which bean he recommended and was informed that Cacheoria Canario is amazing coffee and not only that, there’s a video on it!

Perfect brew

My Purchase from HasBean

This I thought is impressive and promptly placed an order. HasBean has got all the ingredients for success:

  • Well designed, informative and easy to purchase e-commerce site
  • A blog connected to the site
  • Video blog on the beans
  • A Twitter profile offering personal advice on beans and coffee makers
  • An absolute passion for coffee 

A history of the bean

This is not the story of using the web to get rich quickly. The history of the company is heart-warming and hilarious with great tales of coffee roaster fires in the garage and cups of coffee for the local cops. What’s more, the more I look at the site the more I find and now I’ve enrolled on an online course on coffee in the form of e-mail tutorials.

Maxing the video

The site, service and the owner Steve Leighton are an object lesson on getting it right. The only thing I’d advise would be to make more of the video. Years of sending sales videos inside the enterprise taught me that short is best and these would be my tips for maximising the video element:

  • Keep the video to 5 mins max
  • Edit in any plantation or map pictures to break it up
  • Create a YouTube channel and post them there too (like Hot for Words!)
  • Embed the video in the main HasBean site and have links from the individual bean’s section

True Enthusiasts

Before anyone asks, I’m just a happy punter who likes his coffee. I’ve gotten to like it even more because of the web and true enthusiasts. like Steve. On that note, here’s one of my favourites which taught me a lot about getting the best from my La Pavoni:



Phew, this is thirsty work, anyone for a cuppa?

Enterprise 2.0 Intranet

Enterprise 2.0 Profiles

Just been looking at Shiv Singh’s preso on Web 2.0 and the Enterprise:

There’s a good engagement on it re informality and spontaneity of collaboration at Frogpond. What struck me thought was slide 25 – LinkedIn becomes your Intranet. What a concept, that’s really interesting. I guess the thing to avoid is what Mike Gotta is calling the ‘Potpourri‘ approach to profiling – we don’t want a plethora of the blighters. Mike points out Connect Beam’s Spotlight Connect for Outlook which synchs a profile up with Outlook and LDAP. Now Shiv cites LinkedIn’s APIs and the wonderful stuff being done with them is a site to see – this blog will appear in LinkedIn without me doing owt.
Wouldn’t it be good to have some sort of universal Enterprise 2.0 Profiles API that could draw in profile data from different apps and locations? This could unify and synch up the E 2.0 Profiles and avoid the potpourri pitfall but still use multiple sources of data-guff. It would introduce order and spontaneity at the same time. Always a good mix in my book 😉

Enterprise 2.0

Conversation Internal Revolutions

Charlene Li has posted a great new preso on “How to Spark A Conversation Revolution – AND Keep Your Job“. With my recent threads in mind, I look through it and start to cross-reference the slides to how they might look if the target was our internal employee audience rather than our customers and market. In doing so I keep on being drawn back to Theory, critical theory and all the post structuralist theories of communications and meanings. I’m starting to wonder if we need to think of social media as a hybrid that transcends the usual corporate boundaries and that’s why so many are so fearful of it.
I’ll leave such musings for now as I’ve some heavy duty formatting and back ups to do ready for the arrival of a new HP workstation. B Grade as the Windows sticker was damaged apparently, which will do me fine.

Enjoy Charlene’s preso:

Enterprise 2.0 Intranet

The perigrinations of internal social media

When I used to lecture, I used to find that the areas I at least thought I knew the most about could often be the most difficult to create a good half hour on. This little essay proves the point and I thought it would be an easy follow-on from what so far, has been my most responded to post.

It takes up where my recent missive on what we should call social media inside the intranet left off. There were several comments from fellow Twitterers and by Lee Hopkins at his Talking Internal Communication Blog. Lee extended the discussion by pointing out that where internal communications sits inside the corporation, as who actually ‘owns’ it is an old chestnut and one not yet settled. With this in mind, I’d like to set a new old chestnut roasting, by looking at some of the issues someone dealing with social media uptake and usage inside the corporation has to deal with.

I’ve deliberately left this open by not adding the qualifier of inside the firewall. The reason for this is that like internal communications’ relationship with marketing, PR, corporate communications and HR; internal social media upsets the equilibrium with even more gusto. Social media is a disrupter of established norms and practices and it does this due to a variety of factors.

It’s when we start to look at this in more detail at these disrupters that we can begin to understand the impact of social media in the corporation, an impact that starts to look like the making of a paradigm shift, a business transformation.

First thing we need to note is the simple fact that the major driver for most corporation’s social media practices is marketing, they’re externally focused. Of the case studies I’ve been compiling, something like 95% have an external focus. Social media for these companies is about marketing, brand awareness and sales. This was why when Jeremiah K. Owyang at Forrester looked at ‘How To Staff For Social Computing’ he envisaged a team skilled in marketing led by a Social Computing Strategist and reporting to them a Community Manager.

Now what’s interesting here is that although Jeremiah probably sees the output as external with the aim of integrating social computing into the marketing strategy, the prime role of the Strategist is internally focused. Their role is evangelising, brokering, managing and above all acting as an “Internal Leader”. But whereas this person Jeremiah rightly says needs excellent internal communications skills, the aims of the Strategist would not be particularly those popular internal comms concerns such as employee engagement, alignment of employees and teams to the business strategy or effective communication of what’s happening inside the corporation. These however, are topics that anyone deploying of social media internally needs to be continually mindful of. Even if the aim is to increase collaboration or innovation, these need to be at least aligned with the aims of traditional internal comms activities.

Of note here, is that regardless of what happens at work, social media is a ubiquitous online phenomena for those, now a majority in the UK, with broadband at home. The net is a collaborative medium and sites such as YouTube, Facebook etc are at the hub of many online experience. And, we should not forget the older well established technologies such as those of e-mail, instant messaging and the enthusiast forum. All of these are social, unless one fires up Messenger to talk to oneself, there’s a mediation between people and the technology here that is part of all our online lives.

The result, as has been noted many many times, is that people, being people, bring this stuff into their working lives. Firewalls and security measures aside, at the very least people will use whatever means at their disposal to gossip, joke and communicate with each other about non work things.

So, we have a ubiquitous technology that people are bringing into work and this not surprisingly creates fear. Social media knows not the rules of internal and external and there’s always a degree of leakage or osmosis. This salient fact instils fear in the social media sceptic. Thus at the outset there’s an urge to control and need to define correct practice to prevent a malpractice, whilst there’s the impulse of people at work to communicate and collaborate with their peers, colleagues and even competitors and frenemies.

This creates an interesting and pretty instant dilemma and concern for senior management as a whole, plus HR, IT and Infosec. Are the workforce risking the integrity of the firewall and security by using Messenger at work, are they doing work, if we police this will it reverberate back at us, are at least some of the questions raised. Anyone working in this sphere has to not only allay such concerns, they need to address them head-on.

The real capital of any company as is often said, are its people, i.e., its social, cultural and living intellectual capital. Should not therefore be the locus of the firm’s social media activities? If so, it means Marketing investing in the literal human resources and Human Resources synching up with the brand. That’s new. It would be about creating a 360 degree brand alignment in ways that are far deeper, nuanced and richer than employee engagement, alignment or buy-in.

What this points to is the need for a strategy that can simultaneously deal with not only the concerns covered by Jeremiah’s role of the marketing led Social Computing Strategist, they also need to be covering internal IT and security issues stretching right across the firewall. There’s more than this however and I think that social media inside the firewall cannot escape addressing concerns that are strictly, or perhaps were the terrain of HR – the people who work in the corporation.

Simultaneously to this, we also cannot escape the fact that the big appeal of internal social is productivity. For Gartner this is such a confirmed plus it should be at the top of the CIO’s to do list – Web 2.0 is not for the chopping Gartner: the CIO and Web 2.0. The driver here though is productivity, operational productivity and thus the matrix enmeshes.

My head hurts after all of this – I thought I had this one in the bag. Social media doesn’t only cross the firewall, it starts to dissolve well established practices and terrains within the corporation. Next post on this I’ll try and gel these ideas together and put some sense into these perigrinations.