06 3 / 2012

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 7: What Really Counts in Content Creation

This blog post series is for managers willing to launch and run a social media initiative in their companies. While writing, I realized I should mention an important aspect: I work in the IT industry and mainly focus on building communities around my customers’ enterprise products and solutions, such as cloud infrastructure deployment and management tools. Sounds techy? It is! I hope you find my writing thought-provoking and helpful if you’re in the IT industry. But I also hope it’s valuable food for thought if you’re in an entirely different, yet comparably complex area, like biotechnology and life science or the energy sector.

Two for the (social) road.
According to Moore’s Law, “the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years” (see Wikipedia). With increasing computing power, comes a shortening life span of specific technologies and knowledge. If you want to keep up with the latest developments, you have to learn faster and learn more. How does that translate into your social media strategy?

When you’re building and selling products, especially innovative and complex ones not well understood by customers or commonly applied yet, you have to focus on two aspects in your content creation efforts across all platforms — whether it’s your enterprise blog site, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Facebook.

1. Provide the Big Picture.
If you were to map your competitive landscape, where would you mark an “X” for your product? Why would you place it there? And how would you guide customers to it? Think of social media people as tour guides: You don’t want to lose customers en route to the final destination, which requires their solid understanding of your product and its competitive advantages. Tread carefully! Always make sure customers understand the Big Picture — and it’s your job to provide it. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Simplicity is always difficult to achieve and maintain.

Ask yourself a couple of questions before beginning: What is the customer’s background and experience? For the sake of clarity, let’s turn again to the tour guide metaphor. If the customer likes to hike, you need to have a mutual understanding of “hiking.” What distances, difficulty levels and climates does the customer prefer? Is he ready for Mount Everest?

A high level of technical expertise might be your worst enemy, because you risk getting lost in assumptions. “I thought my customer knew open source is an entirely different ecosystem compared to software products developed, licensed and sold by individual companies.” Question your assumptions about what the customer might know about any given area. Be brutally honest with yourself. Does the customer really understand what you’re talking about, or politely nodding while trying desperately to hide a lack of understanding?

I believe your customers are smart, just as mine are. But they aren’t necessarily experts in your field. Always, always, always provide an understandable, edible Big Picture with a safe route to that huge “X” on the map — your product.

Let me share my own experience. When trying to understand a concept I’m unfamiliar with, I find it painfully frustrating if the author doesn’t provide a Big Picture to help me understand the offering in context with competitive solutions. No one wants to reveal a lack of understanding (it takes courage to say, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t get what you’re saying!”). So, it’s of enormous importance that you do some educated guesswork: “What might the audience not understand?” They won’t tell you. You have to figure it out yourself.

2. Help customers get started.
Let’s assume you did a great job of providing the Big Picture. What’s next? You need to help your customers get started. We all know “getting started” is the difficult part of most ventures. What are the first steps? If you’re in the IT industry, what hardware and software requirements must be met? What exactly do customers need to walk your talk?

Make it impossible for customer to fail. You can’t be clear and comprehensive enough; there’s no such thing as overstating it. When planning the roadmap for the first steps, you may occasionally think, “Aaah, that’s obvious. I don’t need to mention that.” Remember, don’t get lost in your own assumptions! If you do, you’ll lose customers.

It’s better to overdeliver than underdeliver — even the most obvious information — to ensure  customers can actually get started and not give up while trying to do so. Once customers take their first shaky steps, they gain confidence and educate themselves along the path. They might even come to a better understanding of your product than your company in general. Always supply everything necessary to make those first steps as easy and fail-safe as possible.

The power to move and sell.
“You helped us move in the right direction.” Those words are the most rewarding aspect of my work, because it means I’m making a real difference for customers. The good news is all it takes is specific, detailed information on making those initial steps.

My advice to “Provide the Big Picture” and “Help customers get started” may sound simplistic. But over the years, I’ve learned these are the cornerstones of every successful content creation strategy in social media (and probably elsewhere). If you consistently apply this advice within your social media strategy, you’ll notice how difficult it is. Keep at it, however, and you’ll reap the fruits: Your customers will be happy and you’ll contribute to your company’s bottom line. Social media has the power to help you sell your product. Use it wisely!

I’m particularly curious to hear feedback on this blog post. Based on my professional experience, these are the most valuable pieces of advice I can offer. Tell me if you agree, if my writing is helpful or if you need additional information. Please leave a comment or drop me a line at Twitter @RafaelKnuth. Thanks!

11 2 / 2012

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 6: Don’t rely on experts, become one yourself

This blog post series is written for managers with little to zero experience with social media. If your boss asks you to launch and run a social media initiative in your company, this series will provide helpful insights. 

Aw-shucks, you’re making me blush…
When talking with potential customers, I often hear, “Oh Rafael, you’re the social media expert/guru/pro. Please tell us what to do. We don’t know anything about social media.” My ego loves to hear this, of course, and dollar signs pop up in my eyes. But when I put both ego and profit/loss considerations aside, I think, “Wait a minute, something has gone terribly wrong.”

Literally billions of people are writing blogs, creating Facebook and Google+ pages and much more with no prior experience in social media. Just regular people  like you and me, at any age: Tweens, teens, twens, grown ups,  even seniors who could be our grandparents. They didn’t hire a social media expert to get started, so why should you? They just started, and iteration after iteration, became experts/gurus/professionals over time.

What’s holding you back?
I wonder why so many managers shy away from just getting started with their social media initiatives, instead of relying on so-called experts. If billions of people around us can pen blogs, set up fan pages, create a follower base… so can you.

Say adios to your social media experts, save the money and spend it on something that makes sense. Organize a barbeque ‘n’ beer party with your colleagues. Or buy your team an Xbox and a stack of cool games. Social media consultants are expensive; you can purchase a lot of cool games with the money saved.

So why would I play hara-kiri with my business model? I learned in practice the opposite is true: I provide far more value to customers when I switch my role from nanny to sparring partner — an equal among equals who brings different viewpoints and ideas to the table.

Drivers, start your engines.
Here’s my advice to you and it’s absolutely free:

1.       You don’t need to hire a social media expert to get started.

2.       If you already hired one, cut them quickly.

3.       Trust yourself and just start.

4.       Iterate, iterate, iterate, iterate…

5.       Buy an Xbox with the money saved.

You may never need a social media consultant. Congrats! Just like Auntie Jenny from Ohio didn’t need to pay a social media consultant to launch her “Sweet Little Brownies Recipe Blog” and get thousands of followers on Twitter. But once you become adept, you’ll want to further improve your skills. It’s a must to stay competitive as those around you also become more adept. That’s the time to call me. I’ll help you advance as your coach and trainer. Besides, who scores better at “Need for Speed”?

I’m always pleased to receive your feedback, so either leave a comment in the box below or shoot me a line on Twitter @RafaelKnuth. Thanks! (Picture found on Pinterest)

17 1 / 2012

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 5: Teach and Learn

I began this blog post series as a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media initiatives in their corporations. With this fifth post, I will alter the modus operandi a bit: Instead of just answering questions, I’ll also discuss topics I haven’t been asked about. Please shoot me a line on Twitter @RafaelKnuth or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Achtung, here comes my uber-theory!

My uber-theory goes like this. Most of our interactions with other human beings, machines and corporations have one common purpose: to teach or to learn. If you want to learn how late it is, for example, you can ask a person sitting nearby, “What time is it?” You could also examine a device — a watch on your wrist, your smartphone or your PC. You can even call a telecom provider’s hotline and a friendly voice (in most cases, female) will tell you the time.

It’s unlikely a corporation will call to ask you how late it is, but they may want to learn if you’re happy with their product, when you’re planning your next purchase and other product-related feedback. If you aren’t disturbed by the caller and are in a good mood, you’ll provide the desired information.

Of course, the same company could send you a brochure on their latest products and teach you about the new bells and whistles. To make a long story short: Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. Sure, most educational initiatives (better known as marketing) launched at companies are irrelevant, poorly targeted or both. How many times have you received an advertisement for a product that didn’t match your interests — today alone? Dozens, I’d guess. But let’s put this issue aside for now; I’ll return to it later.

While the interactions above are pretty simple, others are complex. Let’s say, for instance, you want to understand string theory, but you have no educational background in particle physics. You’ll likely examine various sources: Buying a book on the subject or inviting a super-nerdy friend to dinner are among your options. In most cases, you’ll utilize the social web by asking, “Are any interesting videos or blogs discussing string theory?” There are likely thousands. The cool thing about the web is that it’s social. You can ask a blogger by leaving a comment when something is unclear to you, congratulate a video’s creator for great work and then share with others who also are interested in string theory.

The social web is the best educational platform on earth. If not the universe.

As you may recall from my “Only Swimming Will Teach You How to Swim: How to get started with IT from scratch“ post, I’m an absolute IT beginner who’s willing to learn as much as possible. My learning experience is routinely driven by trial and error, which makes it very frustrating and chaotic when I run into continuous errors. On the other hand, I’m in a dream-like state when my learning curve is steep but free of obstacles. This is the point I want to make: My journey is driven by blogs I find on the web, in forums I stumble upon and in feedback I receive from readers like you.

For example, when I tried to learn some basics about Windows 8, I posted many of the issues I faced on Twitter. It’s kind of a “message in a bottle” experience, because you never know who’ll respond. But I always got a response, mostly from complete strangers. I thanked them all and I got really cool answers. My favorite one came from @RickVanover: “You’re welcome. It’s all about the community.”

It’s all about the community.

I love that statement. If you’re supposed to run a social media initiative, make it your daily mantra. It’s all about the community… It’s all about the community… It’s all about the community…

But let’s get back to the educational materials you send out to customers by the thousands or even millions — your brochures, flyers, paid tweets, emails and more. Most marketers are happy with response rates somewhere in the lower percentiles (a strategy I referred to as “fishing with dynamite” in a previous post). You turn off 99% of (potential) customers hoping to get a call from the remaining 1% or so.

I should mention community does not equate with communism. The social web is an entrepreneurial platform par excellence: I personally make purchases worth thousands and thousands of US-Dollars annually based on conversations with community members: What type of hardware should I buy? Which events should I attend? What books should I read? Which courses should I take? With more than 2 billion people using the social web, it’s a hub for trillions of businesses.

Ask the right questions: What do you want to teach? What do you want to learn?

What if your company truly started educating customers instead of spamming them? What do your customers want to learn and understand? What do they want to accomplish and what obstacles will they face along the journey? And what does your company want to learn and understand? To perhaps enter new markets you may not fully comprehend but yearn to?

The lesson here? A social media initiative based on the desire to teach and to learn increases the likelihood you’ll become an organic part of the social web.

In upcoming posts, I’ll provide practical advice on how to become part of this ecosystem by contributing blog posts, wikis, tweets, etc. In the meantime, make a list of things you want to teach others — your customers, partners, the general public — and those you want to learn yourself. Think and explore!

22 12 / 2011

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 4: What about using canned tweets?

This blog post series is a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media activities in their corporations. If you have questions, or if you’d like to chat, shoot me a note on Twitter @RafaelKnuth.

Question: What about using canned tweets?
Answer: No.

That’s one of the most frequently asked questions. Many managers are worried their team won’t engage in social media and try to resolve the issue by creating lists with predefined messages. All their team members need to do then is pick a canned tweet from the list, and copy and paste it to their profile.

People want to talk with other people, not with answering machines.

Let’s pick an everyday situation. How about going to a party with a list of canned conversation starters? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? It’s part of our human nature that we’re scared of the unknown. “What if I don’t know a single person?” “Will people stare at me?” “ “Or worse, ignore me?” People face exactly the same fears when engaging in social media, especially when doing so on behalf of their employers. “What if I do something wrong and get fired?”

Yes, Twitter is confusing. Yes, at the beginning you won’t understand those weird conversations packed with strange abbreviations. Yes, you might do something wrong. And yes, you might change your social media strategy over time. But while most people stick with the crowd and only move along with them, others are tempted to try out the new. “What if I change the game?”

Embrace the brave ones.
They’re less than 1% of your team, but they make all the difference.

The video link below shows how, in only a few minutes, you can start a movement. I love it, and it reflects how I think about social media engagement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ

A movement always starts with a small bunch of brave, curious people who want to be part of something new, fresh and cool. In my experience, on average only 1% of all people in a corporation can be considered the brave ones willing to take the first step. And they’ll keep moving forward even when the going gets tough.

But what if you have a team of only 10? The answer is pretty simple: You’ll have to do everything by yourself and likely won’t get any support at the beginning. If a lonely nut chooses to join you, welcome him as an equal and provide everything he needs to keep engaging. It’s all about empowering your team — even if the team is just you and another nut.

Should you force your team to engage?

No, you shouldn’t. I grew up in a communist country where people were forced to engage, for example, in military parades:  Swinging huge, red flags while singing dull songs praising the achievements of communism, such as fulfillment of the five-year plans (which, in reality, were never fulfilled), or glorifying leaders (who, bluntly speaking, were dumb, hated bozos).

Forcing people to do things against their will gives your company an air of North Korea or Belarus. People likely will boycott your initiatives and sooner or later, quit their jobs. Forcing people to do things against their will is a bad idea.

I personally can’t understand how people refrain from engaging in new and cool things like social media, but I had to swallow that pill. (And I encourage you to do so, too — the sooner, the better.)  But here’s the good news: When you respect people’s decision not to engage in social media, they will respect you in return. They won’t boycott your activities and likely won’t talk behind your back. You’ll have the freedom to do what you think works best for your company in social media.

Don’t pressure those who lack courage; they’ll follow once the crowd starts moving in your direction. Instead, embrace the brave ones and start real conversations about your company on the social web — rather than using canned tweets.

17 12 / 2011

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 3: How do I make some first quick wins?

This blog post series is a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media activities in their corporations. If you have questions or if you’d like to chat, shoot me a note on Twitter @RafaelKnuth.

Question: How do I make some first quick wins?
Answer: ‘Me first’ doesn’t work in social media.

This was probably my most challenging blog to write so far. How do I motivate you to shape your social media activities around buzzwords — “Empower your community… Put your customers first… Listen… Create value for others” — without actually using these hackneyed phrases?

But social media is exactly about that. It’s not about you. It’s about them. Currently, more than 2 billion people use social media globally. As a beginner in social media, your initial share of voice equals 0.00000005% — regardless of how big, influential or innovative your company might be (as measured by market capitalization, market share etc.).

Face it: You’re completely unknown on the social web at the beginning. Just another participant in a game with 2 billion players. So, how can you get started? Below is a checklist, perhaps incomplete. If I’ve  overlooked something,  please reach out and I’ll add whatever might help get your social media activities up and running.

Tune in and listen.
You need to understand what on the social web is relevant to your company and your industry. Which are the best blogs to read? Who are the most influential people to follow on Twitter? Since you’re in the driver’s seat, you need to understand your environment. I highly recommend using Google tools to track conversations on the social web:

               • Google Alerter for search
               • Google Reader for blogs
               • Google News for news

Don’t be afraid of drowning.
You will be inundated. It takes time to get used to the vast amounts of content produced every day, every hour and every second. Let me give you an example from my own experience: I currently scan around 60 blogs a day, most of them on IT. It’s part of my daily routine to walk through new blog posts via Google Reader in the morning. When I’m finished, my coffee is still warm. (OK, I admit, it’s lukewarm.)

It took me a couple of months to get here. Initially, I felt overwhelmed every morning by an army of bloggers throwing tons of content at me. I can assure you, that after a while, you’ll develop your own strategy on how to manage the daily influx of information. For example, I filter my blogs by topics I’m currently interested in. If that’s desktop virtualization, I skip the ones focused on operating systems.

Over time, you’ll learn who’s talking on the social web – and who’s worth listening to. Like I said, you need to know and understand your social environment. (Think of it as equivalent to the competitive landscape of your marketplace.)

Learn from the pros.
When getting started on Twitter, for example, ask people, “Who are the people to follow on Twitter?” Don’t be shy to “out” yourself as a beginner — everyone was a beginner at one point. People are kind and helpful on the social web when you are respectful, and show interest and eagerness to learn. Watch carefully how experienced, popular Twitter users interact with their community. The same, of course, applies to blogs you read and other communities you join, such as online forums.

There are no stupid questions, believe me. But beware of lazy questions: When something is unclear to you, always ask Google first. If you don’t understand, for example, those cryptic abbreviations on Twitter — e.g., TY, l8er, MT, #FF — the answer is waiting for you on Google.

Be thankful.
Use the words “Thank you” regularly. Did someone tweet your blog post? Reach out to that person and say, “Thank you for sharing my blog post.” Somebody answer your question? Write back, “Thank you for helping me out.” Did you like someone’s blog? Tell them, “Thank you for sharing this information and your insights. I found it very helpful.”

Be helpful.
Promote stuff you find interesting, inspiring, worth reading and sharing. First, you’ll make those people happy. Second, you’ll build up trust and credibility as an equal among equals in the social media sphere. After a while, people will start doing the same in return: They’ll share your blogs, recommend others follow you on Twitter, etc. That’s what social media is about — growing by giving.

Take your time.
It takes a couple of months to understand what social media is about and how it works in practice. Over time, you’ll upend your original concept of social media at least partially, if not completely. But you can’t accomplish this without implementing a strict routine: Read blogs and engage on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook on a daily basis. Day by day, week by week, month by month, your skills will increase.

Be prepared.
Sooner or later, your boss or team will ask you, “What have we accomplished in recent months?” “What are our quick wins so far?” In the corporate world, listening is not typically regarded as a productive activity. Here’s my advice: Surprise your team by asking them, “Have you read what customers are writing about the event we hosted this week?” “Do you know which issues users face with the product we released yesterday?”

Your daily social media routine will put you at the forefront of what you know about your company, your products and the challenges customers face. Because 2 billion people are already out there — including your customers, suppliers, partners and competitors.

12 12 / 2011

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 2: How do I get attention?

This blog post series is a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media activities in their corporations. If you have questions or if you’d like to chat, shoot me a note on Twitter @RafaelKnuth.

Question: How do I get attention?
Answer: Be relevant.

Social media is a completely different game than… hmm… than what? Good question. What compares to social media? Many people I talk with see social media as another distribution channel for their corporate announcements, in addition to existing types of media. But social media is neither. It’s not a distribution channel, and corporate announcements aren’t the type of content your community is waiting for — unless it’s a really huge announcement, such as a merger, new CEO or different product line. But that doesn’t happen often.

Social media is not about distributing corporate announcements.

OK, let’s look at how real people use social media. Take Facebook, for example. Let’s imagine Jim and Susie. Just two regular folks heading towards a major event: They’re going to marry (the equivalent of a merger in the corporate world). They want everyone to know, so they come up with a big announcement on Facebook, followed by photos and comments from the wedding ceremony. They might even create a fan page. Cool. I guess they’ll get lots of “Likes” and cheerful comments from friends and relatives.

But what about the remaining 364 days of the year? Will Jim and Susie announce what they’re having for dinner every evening? Or which TV program they’re watching? Why not? Because Facebook is just another distribution channel for what they think the world should know about them.

What is it people dislike about social media? Very often they say, “I don’t want to waste my time reading all that crap!” So why should it be any different with corporate communications on social media? When a company blogs, Tweets and shares each of the bells and whistles it adds to its products, it’s behaving the same way as Jim and Susie announcing every detail of their daily life — including frozen pizza for dinner.

Social Media. It’s all about relevance.

In traditional media, you can spend $10,000–$50,000 dollars or more on a single-page ad in a magazine. Let’s assume you pick a magazine targeted at your potential customer base. Most likely, 99% of all readers will ignore your ad and the remaining 1% will take notice. Of those few, 1% will call the hotline printed at the bottom of the ad. Only 0.01% of the audience is interested in your product — versus 99.99% who aren’t. Doesn’t that sound like fishing with dynamite?

Don’t do this in social media. You might get three “Retweets” on Twitter and five “Likes” on Facebook, plus 128 hits on YouTube on your usual corporate announcements — but that’s it. Now, let’s get back to the original question, “How do I get attention?” After reading this far, you might have an idea of what doesn’t get attention. Let’s face it: 99.99% of all people, even if they’re well targeted, don’t care about your everyday corporate announcements. They don’t even notice.

Let’s build relevance from scratch:
What do your customers search for on Google?

Let me give you some homework over the next couple of days. It will help direct your focus to what really counts on the Internet, thus in social media. Answer these questions: “What are my customers searching for on Google and which searches are relevant to my business?” Be very specific: “What keywords do they type in?” “On what occasions do customers search for something our company may be able to help with?”

One thing is certain: No potential customer will type in, “Award-winning, innovative, leading XYZ product.” People don’t search for corporate announcements.

Take your time. These questions are fun to play with and might become the turning point in your social media activities. Your corporate blog, your Twitter account and Facebook fan page will become relevant when you refer exactly to what your customers are searching for. Let me help you get started.

When a customer wants to get a product up and running, for example, he types in, “Installation of product XYZ explained.” He might search for your product (if he purchased it), but also might browse for a competitor’s product (in case he spent money on that). In the first case, it’s straightforward: If your blog is titled, “Installation of product XYZ explained,” it will show up among the top search results. Now, let’s assume the customer didn’t buy your product: How does he find your blog? You might explain how easy it is to deploy your product compared to your competitor’s offering.  If “plug and play” is your competitive advantage, the reader might memorize it and come back to you when he needs to renew his inventory.

Did I promise too much?

Social media is a completely different game!

07 12 / 2011

How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 1: What’s the real value of social media?

This blog post series is a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media activities in their corporations. I’ll start with the most frequently asked ones and over time, move on to those addressing specific tools, techniques or platforms.

Social media per definition is an interactive media type; hence, I’ll loop in feedback, comments or further questions into the blog series. If you’d like to chat, shoot me a note on Twitter @RafaelKnuth. OK, let’s get started.

Question: What’s the real value of social media?
Answer: You have to figure it out in practice by trial and error.

Most managers I talk with spend a lot of time trying to find the answer before they start engaging in social media. As a result, they’re stuck in workshops, meetings and on team calls without making much progress over time. My advice might sound crazy at first glance: “Just jump in without a plan and learn, improve and develop a corporate strategy while you walk – based on your growing experience with social media.”

Luckily, social media comes with no entry barriers. I often ask people, “How much time do you think it takes to set up a blog?” Answers typically vary between “15 minutes” and “2 hours.” The truth is, it takes only 15 seconds to set up a blog. 15 seconds! All you need to do is go to Tumblr.com, type in your email address and password, press ENTER – and presto, you’re ready to write your first blog post. Compared to that, setting up your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ profile takes “ages” – up to a few minutes each.

A manager’s mind starts racing when confronted with my suggestions: “Wait a minute! What about compliance guidelines? Corporate design? Branding? Messaging? What if I post something that unintentionally gets out of control, goes viral in the social media sphere and harms my company’s reputation?”

I’m not ignorant of those questions, because I’ve lived the same emotional rollercoaster since I started in social media. I believe those questions are invaluable, because of a psychological factor: The adrenaline shot that comes attached with them will keep you alert while you launch your social media activities and – hopefully – beyond that initial phase. They’ll actually propel your social media activities when raised on very specific cases. Let’s say, for example, you’re working on a blog post comparing your company’s product with a competitor’s product. You call your compliance people and ask them to provide feedback on that particular blog post. They’ll most likely give you a very specific answer. What a difference when compared to a generic request, such as, “Hey guys, we’re having this social media workshop and want to understand the real value of social media. We’d like to hear what you think about us engaging on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook?” Well, what should they say?

Frankly speaking, I believe innovation never happens inside the comfort zone. When engaging in an area where you and your company have zero or little experience, you’ll most likely be exposed to a high dose of discomfort. All you can do is get used to mixed feelings and burning questions. Over time, the combination will become your “warning system”: When you feel too comfortable at what you do, when you think you have all the answers, you’re probably not very innovative. Put yourself into the discomfort zone and stay there as long as possible. Because if you really want to be the driver of your company’s social media activities, create real value — instead of just talking about it.

Question: What’s the real value of social media for you, Rafael?
Answer: I never know in advance when I start a social media project.

I’ll give you an example. When the idea popped up in my mind to write a “How to Get Started in Social Media” series, all I knew was the questions I’ve been asked came with a high dose of urgency. Everybody is talking about social media and as for now, most companies lack experience in the area. I assume the value of my blog series will evolve over time due to factors I simply can’t foresee: Who will read my blogs? Will you, the reader, consider them valuable? Will they impact your social media activities? What comments and questions will you come up with? How will the blog posts influence my future social media activities and impact my business? I don’t know.

Welcome to the discomfort zone!

23 8 / 2011

Ich wünschte, ich hätte mehr Zeit

Ich wünschte, ich hätte mehr Zeit. Dann würde ich den Beweis liefern, dass der Schuster nicht zwangsläufig die schlechtesten Leisten haben muss. Als Social Media Berater und Manager einen Blog zu haben, in dem mal alle 6 Monate ein neuer Eintrag dazukommt: Das ist mickrig. Aber: Ich gelobe Besserung.

Auch wenn ich kein Freund des Ankündigungsjournalismus bin: Ab sofort werde ich mindestens einen Blog pro Woche posten. Eine regelmäßge Routine wie Zähneputzen (2x am Tag), Essen (3x am Tag) und schlafen (1x pro Nacht … meistens jedenfalls).

Themen gibt es mehr als genug. Zwischen meinem ersten Blogeintrag und heute liegen 6 Monate - und eine spannende Zeit bei einem großen, internationalen Social Media Projekt mit Dell. Nie zuvor in meinem Berufsleben war meine Lernkurve so steil, was auf mich auf wie ein Aphrodiasikum wirkt. Denn: Nichts ist schöner als Lernen. Das hat zur Folge, dass ich einen nicht unerheblichen Teil meiner Freizeit fürs Lernen nutze. Womit ein breites Themenfeld für zukünftige Blogs gefunden wäre … meine neue Spiegelreflexkamera, die zahlreichen Programme, die ich angeschafft habe und durch die ich mich durschwurschtel. Ach, herrlich. Alles wird gut. Und mein Blog auch.

21 1 / 2011

US Army veröffentlicht Social Media Handbook 2011

Wie soll der Umgang mit Facebook, Twitter & Co. im Unternehmensalltag geregelt werden? Die US Army liefert mit ihrem heute veröffentlichten Social Media Handbook 2011 ein exzellentes Best Practice Beispiel. Nachfolgend eine kurze Zusammenfassung (mögliche Schlussfolgerungen für Ihr Unternehmen sind jeweils in Klammern gesetzt):

  • Die US Army setzt mit der Veröffentlichung ihrer Social Media Richtlinien voll auf Transparenz (Welchen Wert haben Social Media Richtlinien, wenn sie im firmeneigenen Intranet „versteckt“ werden und selbst Mitarbeiter diese nicht kennen?)

  • Der Feind hört mit: Das Handbuch sensibilisiert für den Umgang mit kritischen, vor allem lokal basierten Informationen (Muss Ihr Wettbewerber wirklich via Smartphone erfahren, bei welchem Kunden Ihr Vertriebsmitarbeiter gerade „eingecheckt“ hat?)

  • Jede Social Media Präsenz der US Army muss zentralseitig registriert und autorisiert werden (Schaden „Alleingänge“ von Abteilungen und regionalen Niederlassungen Ihrem Unternehmen möglicherweise mehr als sie nützen?)

  • Social Media ist zentraler Bestandteil der Führungskommunikation – praktische Beispiele z.B. bei militärischen Einsätzen werden aufgezeigt (Wie viele Ihrer Vorstände/Geschäftsführer kommunizieren via Facebook/Twitter und reagieren in Echtzeit auf unternehmenskritische Veröffentlichungen?)

  • Zu Social Media Aktivitäten wird explizit aufgerufen: „Soldiers have always been and always will be our greatest story tellers, and social media tools allow us to tell their story more effectively.“ (Was schreiben Ihre Mitarbeiter in Ihrer Freizeit über Ihr Unternehgmen via Twitter, Facebook & Co.?)

Das vollständige Handbuch zur Ansicht und zum Download finden Sie hier.