Tag Archives: social media

How to get started with social media

A few months ago I wrote a post on how I use various social media sites, but realized I didn’t share how I arrived at those use cases/decisions so here it is.

First and foremost  identify what you hope to get from your social media experience. If one of your goals isn’t to share knowledge then re-think why you are trying to use social media.  I have heard, well read, that Twitter is one of the largest groups of people who love to share their knowledge and experiences.  When I decided it was time to be more involved I had several reasons – becoming more involved in a community I was passionate about, learning from others, sharing my experiences and meeting others who shared similar interest were my key drivers for getting started with social media.

Next you will want to identify the key areas you want to focus on.  For me this was an easy task as I had decided to veer off my (at the time) current career trajectory and re-focus on more hands on/engineering type roles that would hopefully revolve around virtualization, VMware and other related technologies.

Once you know what information you want, do some research and identify what networks are most active in that area.  I find Twitter to be much more active with others in the VMware/engineering space versus Facebook so I started with Twitter and later expanded into other networks.  While I use some platforms in a similar manner, I also have specific uses for others.  For example Twitter is my primary social network where I will engage openly with everyone, and use Google+ in a similar fashion while leveraging circles to share more personal information such as pictures of my family with just a limited subset of circles.  You will likely also find yourself involved in groups with no real tie to a particular social media site/tool such as local meet up groups, blogs or webinars.

Now, develop a plan.  Once you have identified the reasons why you want to be involved, and which communities are most active your plan could be as simple as taking time to focus on one specific aspect and expanding into other areas as you become comfortable in others.  For example, after several attempts and “figuring out” Twitter, I focused simply on using it as a tool to stay up to date on information from various vendors who I enjoyed working with.  This made an easy transition into following others who were talking about the same topics, learning from and meeting those people.

Finally –  push yourself.  It is easy to stay in an area you are comfortable – with people you know, information or skills you may already excel at but you won’t grow if you do not challenge yourself.  One area that I just stumbled into was being more out going, as typically I am quiet and reserved and don’t go out of my way to talk to people.  One night I just happened to see someone I follow on Twitter who lives out of state ask where he could get dinner just a couple towns away from me as in was in the area for work, several other people who already knew him suggested some places and others even were going to meet him there so I just threw myself into the mix and had some great conversations over dinner with people I had never met – that was far outside my comfort zone.  Of course in a scenario like that, ask first don’t just show up!

If you are struggling with how to get started, leverage social media as a means to get information and learn and you will likely find that over time you will start engaging and sharing more information naturally as others are already doing.

 

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Building a Business Case for Social Business Software via @JiveSoftware #socbiz

Back in a previous life I was asked to take on two projects, an “intranet” upgrade and an “customer portal” – the requirements for both were lose and the intranet upgrade seemed fairly obvious, just upgrade from SharePoint MOSS 2007 to 2010 (or 2013 depending on timing).  For the customer portal project I partnered with the Director of Marketing to define the scope of the project and determine what our constraints might be – budget and executive buy in where the two biggest concerns which was odd to me since the CEO asked for the customer portal in the first place.  As we started down this path I quickly realized what people wanted in an intranet, and what we wanted to provide to our customers had almost the exact same requirements – the projects converged and the rest, well we got acquired so the project never launched but I met a great company called Jive Software and the rest of this article was information provided at their Jive Road Show from the spring of 2012 to help build a business case for Social Business (or Social Enterprise) software.

  1. Okay so I didn’t agree with their number 1 – the first order of business is to learn what “social” means to different people in your company.  Once you have this understanding, develop training – one on one, department or for the entire company about what being “social” means in today’s digital world.  Everyone needs to be on the same page or your project won’t get off the ground.  “We are already a social business” said one executive who sat in his office all day behind closed doors – made my skin crawl, he wasn’t even social in the sense of talking to people never mind how to be social in a digital format.
  2. (This is where Jive started) Align the social business initiative to your companies critical business initiatives – this is an important step so you can align the cost of the project to actual initiatives for the business, in our case it was creating a customer portal, increasing sales and improving the customer experience.
  3. Gain strong executive (and Finance) sponsorship – obvious but critical for any project.  Get as much money in the bank as possible – I had CEO and CFO approval, and a free 6 month pilot lined up and it still got denied (but we were also in the process of getting acquired)
  4. Select the right initial groups and engage key people early – This is why I added my own number 1 requirement – it may be difficult to know WHO the right/key people are with, well, being social!  I opted to ask the entire company for volunteers and created a team of 20 people to tell me what they wanted, what would help them in their day to day job and with their customers (be it internal or external).  If you know of someone who is completely opposed, thinks that “social is for kids” get them in on the project early – your biggest opponent can quickly become your biggest proponent (proponent…is that a word?  meh)
  5. Mindfully model and mentor through content and interaction seeding – social enterprise is all about engagement.  If your not using the software, not having conversations, sharing information it will just become a document management system, or that system you wasted the companies money on!  Help people start conversations and discussions, maybe start with how it can be leveraged within just groups or departments and then show how it can span the entire company.
  6. Design and build for engagement – provide guidance and examples for people to model their usage after until they are comfortable with the platform, at which point it will start to be natural and the growth/engagement organic.
  7. Communicate bottom up and top down – short version – everyone needs to be engaged on the platform.  If the CEO is not listening, its not working.  A platform like this can generate so much great information for the business leaders to act on.
  8. Measure – take baselines, before and after the project launches.  Know what you business initiatives were (item 2) and know how those performed both before and after you go live.  Is employee satisfaction up?  Customer retention up?  Having these metrics will continue to provide proof that transforming your business into a social business matters.

How I leverage social media personally and professionally

Social media, be it Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or even OG platforms like Blogger or WordPress can be powerful tools both personally and professionally.  Each of these platforms, to me, has a purpose (I just realized what purpose Google+ meant to me).

Twitter – This is my primary social networking tool.  I use Twitter to find and share information, connect or follow people who share similar interests and even meet new people in person (I am a trend setter here, I met my wife in an AOL chat room in 2000).

Facebook – I connect on Facebook very sparingly, only with family and close friends as this is my primary means of sharing personal information about myself and family so I won’t connect with just anyone (nor will I show you my Facebook profile if we aren’t already connected).

Google+ – This is a combination of Twitter and Facebook in terms of features, and I leverage Google+ similar to how I leverage Twitter but taking advantage of the advanced features like hangouts, circles etc.  I connect with other people that I may or may not have met for the purposes of sharing and finding information.

LinkedIn – I use LinkedIn as a means to promote myself professionally and connect with past and current colleagues and again will cross over and connect with people I have met on other social network platforms.

Blogging (WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr) – I use my blog to share my thoughts and experiences in hopes of being able to help other people who are wondering about similar topics.  My posts may be anything from something about a new feature in VMware, social media trends or just a random rant.

Now I know there are a lot more social media type services available, some I use, some I don’t but those are more fringe use cases and not part of my everyday life.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t use those – quite the opposite.  If you are passionate about photography or art you should certainly be on Instagram or Pintrest, or if you are passionate about dining maybe Foursquare or Yelp are higher on your list.  Your mileage will vary with each and every social media site based your interests.

If you find these services useful, don’t forget there are several ways you can leverage social media and the power it harnesses at work as well through private/internal social enterprise collaboration tools like Jive, MangoApps or SocialCast.