Monthly Archives: March 2009

IP Frontline Defines Social Media e-Ruption

Interesting primer on the phenomena of Social Media e-Ruption, which discusses the spreading influence of social media across demographics and professional spaces.  The article cites 7-main benefits of social media spaces:

  1. Socialization – catch up with those kids from high school 20-years later that you never talked to in high school but are still curious to know what they are doing.  This is great until an old girlfriend posts a picture of you from when you were 17 wearing a crazy dashiki,  circa 1969 and baggy pants, with a huge Jewfro, looking very … um “relaxed” as you watch the flood of comments from your friends list build up below it (not that this happened to me or anything like that …)
  2. Enhance customer loyalty w/direct communication – “tell us what you really think,” now you don’t have to call customer service to complain – just friend the CEO and let her have it.  This works well when companies use the feedback as a forum to improve products, innovate, and get customer pulse about the future.  It fails when used as a means of “doing what all the kids are doing now.”
  3. Open communication in organizations – as someone who uses social media for work purposes , I can tell you it is great tool for centralizing of ideas, but getting people to participate can be like drawing blood from a stone, if the team does not engage.  Finding natural ways to use the space is key.  For example, a main function of our team wiki is keeping individual’s status sheets.  This simple use puts the employee in the wiki every few days and makes growing the space a relevant and natural occurance, (you can’t FORCE people to be social – it just doesn’t work).
  4. Opens the Door to Innovation – HBR published an article in the Nov. 2008 issue titled “Teaming Up to Crack Innovation Enterprise Integration.”  They suggest two distinct groups that must be created for this purpose: a Distributed Innovation Group and an Enterprise Integration Group.  The Innovation Group scouts new ideas, seraches untapped potential in current internal tech, scans outside for new tech, facilitates idea fourms, serves as the center of innovation expertise, publicizes progress, and procures funding.  The Integration Group coordinates a portfolio of innovation, serves as a center of expertise for process management, staffing, and architecture, and determines how future operations can link in to the network.  A social media space can help coordinate such efforts – especially among separate operations like these.
  5. Transparent Government – this has been a favorite tactic of President Obama’s: using social tech to make himself more familiar to the American people.  His recent online townhall (see post: Obama’s Firewalled Chat) did this brilliantly.  I have participated in many virtual corporate town halls over the years, yet I found they paled in comprarison to what Obama accomplished, even if the effect was mere illusion.  By leveraging the social media aspect of tech, he had citizens submit questions, vote on which they wanted him to answer, and then picked the top 4.  President Obama even recongized, yet hashed over (pun intended) a popular question about legalizing marijuana.  While I did not submit a question, I still felt a level of engagement to the town hall that I have not experienced in others just knowing that real people could have a hand in what was addressed.  This is e-democracy at is finest, and something corprate town halls can learn from. 
  6. Empowers governments to mobilize citizens – see # 5 above. 
  7. Political & business leaders can control their brand – social media takes the top dogs out of the ivory tower and puts them in the digital playground with the rest of us.  Not to say that they are listening to every half-cocked comment about why their soft drink tasks like garbage or how bad the cell service is on their network, but leaders have an inexpensive way of reaching out to the masses with social media that didn’t exist before.

Check out the IP Frontline article for their take on things.

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“Should I Defriend Dad on Facebook?”

My cellphone rang at 10:10am on Friday morning.  I had just set up to work from home, and was surprised to see it was my sister calling.  She usually doesn’t phone me during work so  I wondered, with a little trepidation, whether something was wrong. . .

“What’s up with Dad on Facebook?” she asked.  I breathed a bit of relief that it was nothing serious; I knew about Dad on Facebook b/c I had put Mom up on it a few weeks prior.  The theory was that she could view current photos of our kids without us having to go through the hassle of printing, burning, or remembering to email them.  Dad joined last week.  Not only that, Dad and I had our first ever Skype video call, a first for me, which meant Dad was following his 21st Century digital boy into the communication evolution (“communivolution”) that technology affords us.  He had unleashed the power of anytime connection & online social networking – access to hundreds of our childhood playmates and prime opportunities to be the “embarrassing dad,” (something I am looking forward to doing to my own kids in 8 to 10 year as they reach the age of parental mortification).

“Why,” I asked, “what is he doing?” playing the innocent little brother.  I knew what she meant.  Dad can have an offbeat sense of humor, and here I was giving him a digital stage.

“I don’t know,” she said, “he’s posting all kinds of stuff; clogging my wall, friending my friends, and when you don’t answer his posts he follows up asking like ‘why don’t u like me’.  It’s just weird.”

I have debated with many GenXers, GenYers, and Millenials over whether parents on Facebook is a good thing, and conclude that it depends: the older the generation the less the hesitation to have parents on their social networks.  Take Wonder Woman for example – she is in her mid-twenties and clearly a senior member of the Millenials, yet cringes at the thought of her mother joining FB despite the great relationship they have in meatworld.  I, on the other hand, am 7-years her senior, a card carrying member of the GenY, and don’t really have such an aversion to my parents posting profiles up on FB.  Perhaps the closer we come to being embarrassing parents, the less we mind having our own embarrassing parents in our online social networks?

I tried to comfort my sister: “He’s just a little bored,” I said, “and Facebook is really just a novelty for him right now.  He’s not used to this type of communication.”

She thought about it and said, “no, your right.  I remember my first week on Facebook, I didn’t get ANYTHING done.  I was on it all the time.  Now, I barely even look at it.”

“If it bothers you so much it may be worth saying something to him,” I said.  “Or you could always block him.”

She laughed: “should I defriend Dad on Facebook?”

“No,” I said, laughing with her, “but it may be worth a talk.”  With that we moved onto other subjects, but I had recognized a blog post once I saw it.  The idea of defriending, blocking, or even preventing our parents from joining online social networks seems cold, but is this really just the setting of healthy virtual boundaries?  Perhaps we need a code of social online conduct for parents – a guide for how to not embarrass your adult children on Facebook.  But then again, aren’t all rules made just to be broken?  Such a code may just give parents more ideas for better tactics.  And what would be the fun in parenting if your kids could grow out of parental chagrin or hide from it online?

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Twitter Elements of Style – Rule 13 Omit Needless Characters

One of my favorite books on writing (recommended by Stephen King) is the Elements of Style by Strunk & White.  The authors provide 18 rules of usage for writing, which form the backbone of good grammar and bore students to death.  I often quote my favorite (Stephen’s too), Rule 13: omit needless words.  In that spirit I attempt a rewrite of these rules for the tweeterverse (click the link for the real rule):

II. Elementary Rules of Tweeting

1. Show possession w/a “z” (no apostrophes in 140 chars)

2. Commas eat 2 chars – connect w/slashes

3. Put interuptions in (parenthesis – no space)

4. Indy clause (new thought) w/comma or slashes b4 and or but

5. Do not join independent clauses by a comma this rule works for twitter (remember rule 2: commas eat 2 chars)

6. Do not break sentences in two (see comment on rule 5)

7. Put subjects in start of tweet so we know what ur talking about willis

8. Tweets have no lines so b somewhat clear

III. Elementary Principles of Tweets

9. Make the tweet the unit of composition: one tweet to each topic

10. Begin tweets on topic; end should make sense w/start

11. Use the active voice this rule is unchanged

12. Tweet in positive form

13. Omit needless characters (u only get 140)

14. No loose tweets

15. Tweet w/consistent terms

16. Keep related tweets together

17. In summaries, keep to one tweet

18. Finish strong

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Obama’s “Firewalled Chat” – How Open Will “Open For Questions” Really Be?

True to the progressive platform he pimped to get into office (I say that with love), Obama is taking a different approach to the “fireside chat” instituted by FDR from 1933 to 1944.   Gone is the one-way radio broadcast that US citizens huddled around to be told about their country’s future from its fearless leader.  The Interactive Age demands something more … well, interactive.

Whitehouse.gov runs a different kind of chat.  For the past few weeks citizens were invited to submit and vote on questions for the President.  This process ended today at 9:30 am with the following stats:

  • 91,498 people have submitted
  • 102,963 questions
  • 3,562,315 votes have been cast

Whether Obama’s intimate-Internet approach will work or bring much needed calm to the American people remains to be seen.  Today at 11:30 am he will deliver something seemingly different: a digitalogue with citizens  about the issues they care most about right now. On a personal note, I’ve been to town halls in my large corporation with only a few thousand employees on the call at once – these are not the most intimate, relevant, or current dialogues – in fact they seem mostly like infodumps until someone asks a hard question that ruffles the CEO’s feathers (but even these questions just seem like complaining most of the time).  If Obama wants something completely different let’s see him hold a Twitterside Chat – that would be really impressive – we’ll see if this truly is something different.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The White House is Open for Questions“, posted with vodpod

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Social Network Contact Importers & Aggregators

In my quest to get to 10,000 followers on Twitter by 2010 (read more about this in an upcoming post), I realized something: all social network sites (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc.) ask you to import contacts via your email contacts lists to help you find connections.  One problem,  I do not keep my email address books very current.  For a 21st Century digital boy, perhaps this is a major no-no, but I rely on the autofill in gmail, Outlook, and social networking email to fill in the details.  So this leads to my question – is there a social network contact importer?

In my perfect world, all social networks enable the  pulling of contacts from my friends and contacts lists on other existing social networks.  The system would find my friends and contacts on the social networks I belong to (after log in and PW provided) and then send them messages to the social network platform they are on.  I’d be able to build my Twitter following by seeing how many of my 369 Friends on Facebook, 72 contacts on Linkedin, and 13 connections on Martindale-Hubbell Connected are already using that site.  Also, there should be an option for customizing the invite to eliminate duplicate contacts (people on more than 1 of the social networks identified).  Such an application would allow me to truly integrate my social networks, leverage the people I know on each, and help build networks in other communities.

Perhaps the lack of this function as a popular default on social networking sites is a strategy decision by those sites to keep the competition at bay (ad revenue is big business)?  There are also sites like Martindale-Hubbell Connected, which cater to a specific community – attorneys and legal professionals – that would not want my artist and business friends from Facebook or Linkedin creating a profiles in the law space.  Regardless, leveraging this type of social connection is exactly what Web 2.0 should be about.

To be clear: this technology does exist.  When I googled “social network contacts importer” it gave me hits for Octazen Solutions, Open Inviter, and others, but most of these are development apps to be posted on the network or used independent of it.  The lack of this functionality as a default on established social networks seems limiting to me.

Then I found Power.com.  Admittedly, I have yet to sign up and try it, but the gist of it is their tagline “all your friends in just one place.”  This is truly what I have been looking for, both as way to aggregate all my social networks and to possible crack the contact importer nut.  Unfortuantely, at the present moment they seem to be in a transition mode.   Despite claiming to offer FB support, there is no place to log in as a FB user – only Myspace, Orkut, and Hi5More seen ti be available as starting points.  More on this to come.

What social network contact importers have you found that are useful and easy-to-use?  What is your experience with social network aggregators like Power?

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MicroBio – me in a nutshell

In the ever-shrinking universe of social interaction best friends are reduced to text messages, colleagues to tweets, and family to Facebook updates.  We have put a premium on the art of saying it short and sweet.

Cases in point, my revised bio posted to my profile at Meetup.com (250 characters or less):

Attorney, writer, & blogger is content mgr @ LexisNexis & devoted father/husband. Lives by these quotes: “Fundamental accuracy of statement is the one true morality of writing,” (Ezra Pound) and “Omit needless words,” (Strunk & White).

My revised bio on Twitter (160 characters or less):

Attorney, writer/blogger, husband/father who lives by Rule 17: omit needless words.

Is this me in a nutshell?  “No, this is me in a nutshell … oh how did I get into this nutshell?”

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