Daily Archives: February 18, 2013

Finding Your Community

It’s been freestyle week in #CMGRclass.  There haven’t been assigned readings, and students were asked to provide questions for our February 12 hangout with Olivier Blanchard, author of Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization.  #CMGRclass students came through, asking questions that addressed the execution and monitoring of social media activities within corporate, not-for-profit, higher education, and small business settings, and Olivier spoke to the class for nearly an hour on those questions and more.

Find the puzzle pieces and put them together

One #CMGRclass student, Katie Hudson, asked how a person without formal influence should communicate upward that social media is important and go about selecting the metrics that will demonstrate its success.

Puzzle Pieces

Olivier admitted that it can be disconcerting to see progress from an organization’s social media efforts, thinking that things are going well but lacking confirmation from management.  Olivier suggested that consulting with a company’s decision makers and asking key questions can go a long way toward identifying an organizations’ goals and how social media can help meet those objectives:

“What can I help you with?  What can I help you do?”

This is truly a win-win situation: the social media manager will have a better understanding of the business and its managers’ motivations; the business leaders will in turn understand how social channels can help them meet their needs within the business.  Olivier said, “It’s like finding all the puzzle pieces and putting them together.”

24 hours later…

The night after our Google+ hangout, I had a Junior League of Syracuse meeting.  The organization’s usual monthly membership meetings are executed slightly differently during the month of February, where the membership breaks into smaller groups – “sectionals” – that provide training and education on specific topics of interest.  I was excited to see social media on the docket, but just imagine how I felt to learn that the JLS was welcoming Kelly Lux as the featured speaker!

In the space of an hour and a half, Kelly covered a lot of ground with the dozen or so members in attendance: from the importance and ramifications of having a presence on social media (“If you don’t exist online, you don’t exist.”) to suggestions for platforms that might be useful in different business or personal situations.











This year within the JLS, I hold the title of Online Engagement Chair.  I manage the organization’s social media accounts, work with other JLS leaders to understand their activities and goals, and identify content and suggest new opportunities.  I like to think I have a good idea of the platforms on which members are present and, even to some extent, their relative level of activity.  On Wednesday night, though, I must say that I was inspired by the breadth of my fellow members’ questions, their engagement in the discussion, and their tangible level of excitement.

On my way home after the meeting, I thought about something that Olivier had said on Tuesday night.

It’s really about value.

Another classmate, Alaetra Combs, had asked how a community manager can establish an internal community that strengthens an offline community.

Olivier advised the use of a scarcity model.  By starting with a small number of highly engaged community members, the community would provide tremendous value to those within it and be seen as desirable by those outside of it.  (Think Pinterest, when it was still operating in its invitation-only model.)  I wondered if the JLS members in attendance at the sectional would be a good incubator for starting a community of Junior League members.  I considered the potential scope of the community: perhaps the personal growth that comes from civic leadership, or maybe the challenges of balancing personal, professional, and volunteer commitments.

I’m getting ready to embark on a Caribbean cruise without ready access to the internet.  (Seriously?)  I have ample time to ponder these questions and more, but while asking whether the JLS and its members would benefit from an online community, I will keep one comment from our recent #CMGRclass hangout in the front of my mind:

It always pays to start small and grow big. – Jenn Pedde

Belize Beach

(Featured image from Flickr user cameraburps.  Puzzle pieces image from Flickr user designmilk.  Belize beach image from Flickr user JessieHarrell.  Other images by author.)

New to Twitter Chats? This Can Help

large twitter chat

Photo: Labor Day Twitter Chat, by: Us Department of Labor

At the risk of revealing any information that might give the impression that I am out of touch with the world, this week I joined my very first twitter chat.   Now, I know this statement probably sounds overly dramatic.  I could easily choose 50 friends and family at random and be quite positive that none of them had ever participated in a tweet chat before, so my dramatic declaration comes from more of a personal sensitivity that I felt out of touch and out of alignment with everyone on the chat.

The chat I joined centers on Community Management and is usually held weekly, with a focused topic of conversation.   This week the group discussed, “Transitions: Gracefully Exiting your Community.”  I knew this in advance, so I spent that morning preparing my thoughts by doing some research on the similarities and differences between leaving an online community vs. leaving a typical job, with the hopes that  I could participate intelligently if the opportunity arose.  However, I was completely (and very quickly) caught off guard by the chat process.

My observations, as a twitter chat beginner:

  • I was not ready for the pace of the conversation and found the constant steam of tweets very difficult to keep up with.  (There were almost 40 posts in just the first 10 minutes).  I had to read along at a pretty good clip, and I still felt behind the conversation the entire hour.
  • I was using hootsuite rather than the simple twitter feed.  Each time it refreshed, I lost my place when it spilled 20-30 more tweets into the stream.  That was very frustrating.
  • It was a challenge to keep up with answers and comments within the conversation, especially if they were not directly related to the moderated questions.  Basically, I am referring to tweets made in response to others’ tweets.  For example, if someone tweeted:“@yyy @rrr @mmm I love that idea. Thanks Mary!”  I wanted to know what Mary said so I could follow the conversation, but I could not find Mary’s original tweet (partially because I did not know who Mary was so I did not know who to look for, and partially because Mary’s tweet may have fallen into the stream 20 tweets before) so I had no way of knowing what “idea” was loved.
  • All of the above issues left me unable to gain a strong enough comfort level to tweet any of my own comments.
  • The pace of the moderated questions was easy to follow and I liked that they were re-tweeted several times.  That allowed for a good sense of conversation re-focus… even when there were tweets that had nothing to do with the questions steaming in between the “answer” tweets.

At end of the chat I sat back, surly I had missed something.  People who participate in twitter chats love them, but I just felt like I was lost in a very unfamiliar, crowded room.  So I took to the internet to see what I could find on the following topics:

  • How to navigate or better manage a fast paced tweeter chat,
  • Advice from others who encountered the same frustrations as myself

Much to my surprise, there was very little out there.  It seems that no one else was talking about the opportunities that I had encountered!

What I did find though was a lot of good content that focused on How to participate in twitter chats with helpful dos and don’ts.   So I dug in a little deeper and started playing around with different keywords combinations.  I then came across a blog by Bruce Sallen, How to participate in #dadchat or any other chat.  In it, I finally found a little validation. He suggested using services like Tweetgrid to help with the issue of trying to keep up with speedy chats.   I checked the service out, but did not care for its format.  So I pressed, on until my search brought me to JD Roth’s blog, GRS housekeeping: comments, follow-ups, and tweetchats.  In it he recommended Tweetchat.

This service seems very user friendly as it links directly to a twitter account through the services “sign in” button, and also has several nice features:

  • Each tweet automatically gets the #hashtag added when one posts (something I could not figure out how to do on hootsuite).
  • It allows the option of a “user control” feature so one can focus on specific people or block spammers.

tweet chat serviceI plan to participate in more twitter chats so I can get more practice.  I know that that will help my comfort level.  However, the next time I will be using the technologies of the service:  Tweetchat.  Hopefully, it will help me through some of the opportunities that I encountered today and will make the next twitter chat much more enjoyable.



So am I the only one in the world that has found tweet chats overwhelming?

Is it just a matter of getting used to the pace, platform, and people participating in the chat?

Why Internal Corporate Social Media Initiatives Fail to Generate ROI: a chat with Olivier Blanchard

Business Success Collage

Image courtesy of Krom Krathog FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week our Social Media and Community Management class had the pleasure of “hanging out” (in the Google+ sense) with Olivier Blanchard, author of “Social Media ROI” as we discussed various topics related to his book. Here is a paraphrased summary of two of the questions related to internal corporate social media implementation challenges.

Question: A recent Gartner study predicts that by 2016, 80% of enterprise social software efforts will fail. Are there different factors that cause internal enterprise social media adoption to succeed or fail compared to external social media? If so, could you explain these factors?

Olivier: One of the primary challenges of introducing social media to a corporation is that the existing dysfunctions of the organization work against it. The existing departmental silos, the inability to “play nice” and communicate across the silos is not magically corrected by implementing social media software. The culture of the corporation is not going to change fast enough on its own to allow social media to succeed in the organization. Ideally, the corporation should appoint a C-level or SVP-level internal Social Media czar with authority and support from the CEO. The Social Media czar would take a holistic approach building support and structure at the top of the organization for social media and integrate it down into the departmental silos from there. He/she would build a team of people with skills that cross existing silos, drawing from IT, Corporate Communications, etc. to provide a training and support function for social media. Once the support structure exists, the czar can then focus on each individual department, working to train a “hub” of resources within the department and develop successful applications of social media there. It is best to start with “customer facing” departments and work inward. Also, be careful in choosing your success metrics. Remember that measuring Social Media success must go beyond counting the number of “likes” and other simplistic measures; you have to be able to measure and translate your success into terms the business can understand.

My personal experience has been that there are definitely many ways to fail at social media. Recently our IT department rolled out the tools with great fanfare, but little training. The Marketing and HR department C-level executives are the most visible executive users of the tools and have developed the most thriving communities; many other departments appear to have little support from the top and seem be struggling. While the corporation is working diligently to become more agile, the barriers of the departmental silos, built up over decades, work against the implementation of social media and are difficult to overcome. This is compounded by the less than user-friendliness of the social media tools themselves, and the lack of modern features, chief among them, the mobility option.

Question:What issues do internal communities face that external communities don’t?

Olivier: The primary challenge is that most people have “better” things to do with their time, and don’t have the time (or energy) to fight the system. A technique I’ve used to create successful communities (and this works for internal and external communities) is to create “scarcity” to make people want to belong to the group. Start with a small “by invitation only” group, get the core group active, and make sure you have a small, but thriving community. Next, allow the group to start inviting a few others. Pretty soon, more and more people want to belong to the group. By restricting the number of invites you have created scarcity and a certain cachet that makes others want to join.

Hearing this reminded me of how badly I wanted to join Google+ and scrambling around trying to find someone who could get me an invite into the group. I certainly must say that this technique worked on me.