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Don Smith’s Sabbatical Insights

Archive for February 2009

Corporate Guidelines for Social Media

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I have been asked these questions a number of times during my sabbatical tenure.

What is an acceptable or unacceptable post?
What if someone says something bad?
More importantly, what if a customer says something bad about us?

I thought this would be a good time to share some of the insights I’ve gleaned from leading organizations engaged in social media, both within and outside the enterprise.

IBM’er Jenn Okimoto offers up important insights into these issues through her blog commentary.

  1. How detailed should social media guidelines be?
  2. When introducing social media into the workplace, how do we address HR concerns about reduced employee productivity?
  3. How do you guide employees or manage employees in navigating the gray with respect to posting content that is or is not appropriate in the work environment?
  4. What about content that falls squarely in the HR domain? What if employees use social media to publicize HR issues, or to gain “supporters” to their cause?
  5. Do we have IBM or client examples of stats, use cases or any other stories that address these concerns?

HP, published their blogging code of conduct publicly. It’s a simple 9 step code for HP employees to manage their content and tone.

  1. We will strive to have open and honest dialogues with our readers.
  2. We will correct inaccurate or misleading postings in a timely manner. We will not delete posts unless they violate our policies. Most changes will be made by adding to posts and we will mark any additions clearly.
  3. We will disclose conflicts of interest.
  4. Our Standards of Business Conduct will guide what we write about — so there are some topics we won’t comment on such as information about financials, HP intellectual property, trade secrets, management changes, lawsuits, shareholder issues, layoffs, and contractual agreements with alliance partners, customers, and suppliers.
  5. We will provide links to relevant material available on other blogs and Web sites. We will disclose any sources fully through credits, links and trackbacks unless the source has requested anonymity.
  6. We understand that respect goes both ways — we will use good judgment in our posts and respond to you in a respectful manner. In return, we ask the same of you.
  7. We trust you will be mindful of the information you share on our blogs — any personally identifiable information you share on a blog can be seen by anyone with access to the blog.
  8. We will respect intellectual property rights.
  9. We will use good judgment in protecting personal and corporate information and in respecting the privacy of individuals who use our blogs.

Personally, I find HP’s guidelines a good starting point for content management.  I constantly challenge myself to adhere to the following self-imposed guidelines:

  1. Follow HP blog guidelines
  2. Be open and honest
  3. Be mindful of my tone
  4. Ask interviewees for approval upon release of an interview or story
  5. Engage. Be open to feedback
  6. Use first person, conversational language
  7. Keep posts brief, factual, and full of data
  8. Respect all firewalls

This topic requires more thinking and collaboration. If you have questions or ideas, shoot me a comment.

Written by Donald Smith

February 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Benchmarks

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Exploring the Multiverse with Joe Pine

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joepine1Last Friday, I had the pleasure of catching-up with Joe Pine, distinguished author and visiting scholar at MIT Design Lab. Joe is well known for his best selling books Mass Customization, The Experience Economy, and Authenticity. I first heard Joe riff on Authenticity at MIT in October of 2007, well before the mass media glommed onto authenticity as a theme in the most recent Presidential campaign. I have always found Joe’s insights to be fundamentally rooted in physics, economics, and philosophy, but most importantly, ahead of its time.

Joe shared his latest framework with me – The Multiverse. To define the Multiverse, Joe employs the classical 3-dimensional framework that defines the Universe – space, time, and matter. Joe then layers economic insights gleaned from the Stan Davis best seller Future Perfect onto his framework. In Future Perfect, Davis argued that increasingly, the physical mass of everything that has economic value is shrinking. As the economy becomes more informational and intangible, it is less dependent on physical matter to exist on its own. Think anti-matter. Using the same method, Joe concludes that there must exist a place where space, time, and matter do not exist – a virtual reality. The digital space.

Joe’s Multiverse framework provides clarity around the opportunities in the digital space. The digital space is infinite in possibilities, largely undiscovered, without boundaries, always on, and economically advantaged compared to reality. It’s the world of video games, alternate reality games, virtual worlds, social media, and new business models.

In my own experience, I have used the digital space to create a virtual presence of myself. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and LinkedIn allow me to make new contacts without having to do the leg work. As a result, I have expanded my personal network by orders of magnitude and established scores of new business leads and collaborations. Think of how much time it would take to have built out a massive network via person to person interaction. Reality doesn’t scale.

There is intrinsic value in having an on-line presence, and by Pine’s estimates, it might be infinite.

Written by Donald Smith

February 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Search Insights with Lee Odden

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photoI had the honor of meeting Lee Odden yesterday at a local Wayzata restaurant for lunch. Lee is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and a thought leader in the spaces of search and social media. His blog, TopRankBlog, is  highly regarded and considered one of the best in web-tech.

Lee and I talked about the true value of search. Its predictive qualities, and rich data flows. Lee’s using search in new ways to strengthen his business model and keep ahead of the competition. I’d like to learn more about search’s role in identifying knowledge gaps and how organizations can use search to strengthen collective intelligence.

I tapped Lee as a consumer/customer and asked his thoughts on the use of social media in the food industry. What would he like to see in the space? Lee’s response touched on crowdsourcing a la MyStarbucksIdea but really honed in on trusted on-line spaces for kids. Lee mentioned a need for parents to trust social sites for kids and that trusted brands could provide parents that needed comfort and security.

As a parent of two children who will soon engage in web 2.0, I couldn’t agree with Lee more.

Written by Donald Smith

February 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Social Media: Now on McDonald’s Value Menu.

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mcd1I had a chance today to talk with Joe Curry, Global Web Communications at McDonald’s, about their current social media efforts – Mindshare and Station M.

Mindshare was started at McDonald’s in 2005 as a blog forum, where avid employee bloggers would write on topics of interest. Over time the zeal faded and only a few bloggers remained. Today, Mindshare is a vibrant internal web 2.0 community that allows employees to share  knowledge and best practices. Part Facebook and part discussion boards, Mindshare fills the communication voids created by org silos and barriers.

McDonald’s built Station M exclusively for the restaurants to communicate with each other. Joe told a story of how a particular store manager was able to improve his drive-thru times by engaging with colleagues on Station M.

Platform adoption has not been without its challenges though. Like many other organizations adopting social technologies, McDonald’s learned how to tweak their platform and culture in concert for improved outcomes.

Driving traffic to each site required internal promotional marketing. Joe and his team also made sure to celebrate and promote success stories conceived within the platform. The more people can see and feel the value of participation in social platforms like Station M and Mindshare, the more  interactions take place on the platform. As these interactions grow, McDonald’s will realize even more value returned on their investment.

I hope to re-connect with Joe on-site at McDonald’s later this spring for a deeper download. Until then, I’ll take a #4 meal, with a side of social media please.

Written by Donald Smith

February 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm

2009: The Year of Web Analytics

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“Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” – Galileo Galilei

I never thought I would quote Galileo while working on social media, but his words speak of its potential.  On Tuesday, I had an engaging conversation with my new colleague, Steve Borsch from Minnov8, about where social media is headed in 2009.  In a brisk 30 minutes we covered Twitter, blogging, my sabbatical, and other web activities.  Steve made a bold prediction, one that still rings in my ears:

2009 will be the year of web analytics.

Why are web analytics important?

Web analytics paint a picture of user participation, engagement, and activity on a given website. In the context of social media, analytics provide community managers  clear visibility of participation in conversations. This data can then be used to glean insights and note trends not otherwise detectable by off-line means. One can identify lead users, and influencers quite easily inside a social space.

Why 2009?

The competencies and platforms required for reliable web analytics are hitting the market with force this year.

Data Creates Markets

Innovation is often challenging to quantify and define.  But, innovation processes that are pushed onto a social media platforms can, in theory, be measured using web analytics. The resulting data creates new markets for discovery, or innovation markets. Conversely, innovation platforms that are not well measured, suffer from lack of data.

Connected Innovation

Social media facilitates connections between people. Innovation processes pushed through social platforms leverage network effects that optimize outcomes. Think crowdsourcing. Markets that function at greater human scale think faster, act faster, and learn faster than non-social markets. Connected markets create high volumes of reliable data, making the innovation organization smarter and better informed.

Galileo’s thinking was profound in many ways. His measurements of the cosmos with regard to time and space created a paradigm shift in the field of physics and created a new innovation marketplace – classical mechanics.

What can you make measurable? It will surely lead to new markets and innovations.

A final thought from a recent Tweet that I stumbled upon:

Innovators who fail fast learn faster. Innovators who learn faster master faster markets. – Jim Carroll

Written by Donald Smith

February 4, 2009 at 5:06 am

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