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Archive for November, 2008

 

In one of Chris Brogan’s recent posts (Chris is currently the number one blogger on social media), he tells the story of ‘Bob’ a social media enthusiast who risks getting fired for ‘talking’ to customers and being (god forbid!) helpful.

To protect your organisation, and importantly yourself (from becoming a Bob) recommend the development of some some social media guidelines and get them approved by the necessary people so you and the boss agree on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Social media guidelines can vary from the sublime (Microsofts; “blog away”) to the ridiculously litigious.  The most important thing is that they’re clear and straight forward with no room for ambiguity.

Here are some things to think about before you get started.

The first thing you want to do is refer to your organisation’s Code of Conduct (or equivalent) and state that the same principles and guidelines that apply to employee’s conduct in general, apply to social media activities (this should cover off most of the legal/defamation/conflict of interest stuff).  And then tie in your organisation’s values or vision (hard for the boss to argue if they reflect the company values!).  

Always speak in the first person and think about how you present yourself – once on the net, content can be near impossible to erase.

Use a disclaimer if you’re talking about something while wearing your company hat, and state that the views expressed are yours and not necessarily that of the company.

Protect confidential information – in other words don’t tell company secrets or disclose sensitive or financial information – and if unsure, always check.  

Protect your organisation’s clients – very important.  Never disclose names of clients or any other details that could identify them unless you have their and your bosses agreement.

Respect your audience and colleagues – don’t dis your audience or your colleagues. Bad form.

Add value – your organisation’s brand is best represented by you, so think about what you say and do and how that will reflect on your brand. 

Don’t get into arguments – if someone is being deliberately provocative, don’t take the bait. Respond, and offer a point of view but don’t get into a fight and never get personal.

Admit your  mistakes – if you screw up, admit it.  And if you make a mistake on a blog – and then modify it – make sure you tell your readers it has been modified and why.

Go with your gut feeling – use your best judgement.  If you’re about to blog or comment about something in social media but you have even the slightest reservation – there’s probably a good reason for it. Don’t do it.

And lastly, don’t forget your day job – don’t blog etc during work time (unless it’s part of your job).

Paul Gillin has links to various corporate blog and social media guidelines on his blog as has David Meerman-Scott.

And although in this current economic climate rash departures from the workplace isn’t probably the wisest of moves, if you’re working for an employer that despite your best attempts to educate them otherwise, is adamantly averse to using social media to listen to your customers, I go with Seth Godin, David Meerman-Scott’s and Chris Brogan’s advice: find someone that is. 

Siobhan Bulfin   

 

 

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Who works in an organisation that operates in silos?

One of the things I learnt about while away, is how to use social media to solve problems of knowledge silos, generation gaps and geographical boundaries in the work place. 

How?

By combining traditional intranet features with social networking capability – fostering more staff collaboration and communication, and knowledge sharing.  I’m talking about self-service internal community models that don’t require someone to constantly be managing them. 

There are plenty of models about which are free such as yammer and drupal, They’re generally secure and private and could complement an existing intranet but utilise a full-featured enterprise social network deployed specifically for staff.

Why are they free?

Generally they offer the basic tools for free then allow you to upgrade to (for example) more sophisticated reporting mechanisms or use of video etc for a small monthly fee.

Benefits?

Staff can send in questions, ideas and status updates on projects – this can be done either from the desktop or from their phone (if they have remote access).  People who register put up a profile about themselves: name, role, where they work, what they’re currently working on etc. It can put the entire organisation’s brain to work and can flatten heirachies – enabling those at executive level to participate should they wish to.

Example:

A case manager in Invercargill is having difficulty managing his case load especially with all the admin associated, so he sends out a question “Can anyone help me with my time management?”  Someone he’s never met contacts him from Whangarei “Try this”..   or someone from HR in Wgtn sends him some suggestions.

Opportunities are endless.

Staff will feel more engaged, less isolated and more valued.

These models are being used across the US by Fortune 500 companies, where security and privacy is of paramount importance.  They can be hosted either on an existing domain or externally, and they can be administered internally or externally.  Most models allow for sophisticated reporting. And, they’re inexpensive.

Another great free tool out there is oovoo which is basically a video conferencing tool.  Similar in premise to skype  you can have up to 6 users talking to each other at one time.  You can send emails with attachments to others while in conversation, and for a fee of US$10 per month can video record your meetings.

Imagine the potential savings on meeting related travel costs!  

There are plenty of these interactive tools out there that encourage; dialogue, information and ideas exchange and contribute to staff feeling engaged and probably more content!

Siobhan Bulfin

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Marketing Dis-content

I figure I’m not the only marketer who experiences discontent from time to time as they struggle to persuade the boss that there are new tools and new channels for marketing and we need to consider them in line with our business objectives.  Not to suggest we ditch the old ways – or use social media because it’s cool, but rather look at where our audience goes to get information, and make it available to them. Chances are, a large percentage of that audience is online.

I work in marketing and communications at ACC, and we’re at least considering social media and all its attendant tools and uses, for both internal and external communications.  But being a government agency, we’re inherently risk averse and that can be frustrating for social media enthusiasts like myself and maybe you too, as we see opportunities everywhere, where we could be engaging our audience – finding out what they think of our services – giving them an opportunity to provide feedback/make suggestions -then giving them info they want, and enabling them to generate ‘content’ that in turn can help us do our jobs better – more sustainably and undoubtedly more economically.    

When I refer to social media, I’m not just talking about social networking sites such as facebook etc, but creating and participating in a dialogue with the target audience, rather than forcing messages on them. And using these ‘conversations’ to gauge public awareness; for consultation; to build advocates and gain feedback.  It’s the idea that by listening to customers, we’ll understand what the customer wants, needs and values.  

A turning point for me was reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman-Scott, which I urge anyone who is interested in social media/new media/interactive marketing – to read. Apart from explaining what the various social media tools are and how to use them, he shows how marketing has gone from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ and is now about participation and connection – not force feeding. For those of us working in government depts tasked with effecting behaviour change via social marketing campaigns, social media is our greatest gift. And it’s through this blog I hope to offer some  things I’ve learnt to date, and provide a forum where we can draw from each other’s experiences because there are no crash courses out there, or quick and easy answers, and the majority of the design and advertising agencies we work with are no further ahead in understanding these new channels than the rest of us are.  

And before I sign off, if you work in a govt dept, and you’re unsure about what you can and can’t do social media-wise, check out Jason Ryan’s blog. Jason is the comms manager at SSC and his blog is a gold mine of resources and info.

Siobhan Bulfin

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