Monthly Archives: January 2010

Want an iPad?

The hype finally fizzled to reality yesterday when Steve Jobs revealed the iPad to the world.

Check out Howard Greenstein’s prediction, which came the closest I’ve seen in sizing up what this device would be.  There were many reactions:

But none as emotionally charged as this one.

As for me, the iPad seems enticing.  Read this post from my blog last year and you will see it comes nowhere close to what I envisioned Apple doing.   I have heard a range of reasons why people will buy it, my favorite of which is “it’s slick, cool, and sexy.”  A sexy iPad.  Sounds like a reason to drop $500+ on a device that does less than my iPhone.  And yet, like a car crash or an MTV reality show, I just can’t look away.

What about you?  Will you buy an iPad?  Why?

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Building An Employee Community

Employee communities, internal social media platforms built for employee engagement by the employer, can be a wild success and source of innovation or an incredible flop. I have seen examples of both first hand. So how do you make your employee community an engaging place that workers will care about?

There are three primary tactics for building a powerful employee community:

1. Usefulness and relevance to day to day work, and a genuine value placed on engagement by senior leadership

2. Incentives

3. Passion for community and real opportunities to make a difference through it

Usefulness, Relevance, and Value

Leaders must make participation in the community useful to achieve the day-to-day work of the employee.  This may mean diverting conversations away from email and onto message boards.  Really progressive companies may want to get rid of email ENTIRELY and use only their internal social networking platform for messaging.  To do this of course, your system would need to have the functionality to tag, sort, and archive in-mail messages, but the key to abandoning email for community discussion platforms is changing the behavior of employees to have primary discussions on public or private threads rather than on fragmented email chains.

Expectations in business today are not always reasonable.  We’ve all heard that “build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to online communities.  Fostering true engagement and participation means making what goes on in the community relevant.  To be relevant, the conversations, content, and other activity within the community need to translate to real-world objectives, action, and results.  Any community platform you build for your workers is a tool – just like putting in a phone system didn’t start making employees innovate, putting in a community with fancy tools is just the first step; it will not cure your innovation problem.  What a community platform can do, however, is level the playing field for ideas to be heard.  That is what we mean by relevance.

Beyond the day-to-day behaviors moving to new tools, is the work product on your system valued?  When people put out ideas on the community who champions them?  Do you have a way of measuring the best contributions (not just the most)?  All these questions hint at the value placed on what goes up in the community and the value extracted from it.  Again, these are just tools.  Let me say that one more time: these are just tools.  They have the potential to change the way we work and add incredible value, but only if we first see how our old tools can be replaced.

Incentives

Money is one of the last on this list.  The most powerful incentive is when someone believes what they are doing is important.  Without this our efforts in a community or the very work we do just seems aimless.  How can you make what is going on in your community important?  This is the million dollar question, but a good place to start, what is important about the work you are doing now?  What are the goals of your company?  How you better reach them by using your community to communicate the mission, objectives, steps, and progress?  These questions all go to making the work you do on your community focused and important.

Beyond this, the community is a place where senior leaders can become real to employees, much the way celebrities have used social media to interact with fans.  Try having an executive write a regular blog where he solicits feedback and responds to comments received.  Another tactic is to create an innovation lab forum, where employees are invited to submit ideas for new directions the company can take the business in.  The highest rated ideas can be green lighted and those individuals or teams chosen to work directly with top level people to make them happen.  These are just some examples of non-tangible incentives that resonate with employees.  Give them a stage.

Passion and Making a Difference

Find your cheerleaders early.  Even better if they are people others in the company already respect.  Create a team of superusers, not just in name.  Make it part of their work to meet regularly, grow the group, and lay out a clear path for others to join their ranks (this is not so much an exclusive club as it is a milestone).  These users are the ones along with senior leadership who should be listening and fostering engagement in the community.  Hiring a dedicated community manager is also a good idea.

Passion that doesn’t translate to change is just enthusiasm.  An organization needs to commit to the new course that the group conscience of the company begins to plot.  Your community is worthless if it can’t change things in your company.  If you are “the decider” ask yourself: am I just going to do what I want anyway?  If so, your community exists to give the illusion of progress.  And what a shame, because it will be a missed opportunity to take your business to the next level that you know it needs to hit.

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Kippa Man: Making Me the First Custom Apple Logo Kippa in Israel

Skullcaps, lids, yarlmakes, or kippas, whatever you call the head covering we observant Jews wear, one thing is for certain: if custom, knitted ones (“sroogies”) are your thing there is no better place than Kippa Man to get yours made. Located conveniently in the Shuk in Jerusalem, they have tons of pre-made designs to choose from including sports teams, cartoon characters, and company logos like Nike, Coke, and Pepsi. But as I walked into the shop today I noticed something was missing.

The iPhone hit Israel in December of 2009, and we have been experiencing the slow yet enthusiastic adoption typical of Apple launches. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am an Apple nut, a customer evangelist if you will, who takes pride in his affiliation. What better way to display that pride than with a custom kippa made by the best?

The lady at Kippa Man (didn’t catch her name today) was pretty excited about this one. “Do you think other people will want it?” she asked in a light Israeli accent. I told her that people would go crazy over it, and she’d be able to say she was the first to do it in Israel because I had looked and not found it anywhere else. I also told her that I’d proudly wear it at Legal Tech in two weeks, a major technology conference in NYC for legal professionals. This made her more excited an she promised to have it ready by next week.  What happened next was interesting.

She quoted a price which I thought was high for a custom kippa.  “You wear big ones,” she said.  “The are more expensive than the little ones.”  She was right.  I do like my kippas on the big side.  They are more comfortable, stay on your head better, don’t require clips, and cover my disappearing hair.  Knowing that Wonder Woman would kill me if I paid that much for a kippa the inner business man in me came out.  “Tell you what,” I said, “I’m so excited about this kippa that I want to blog about it.  I want to show it to everyone I know who loves Apple and have them come to you for one.  With the iPhone blowing up in Israel there is sure to be interest.  We brand this as a Kippa Man original and I think you’ve got a winner.”  Through my entire speech I could feel her excitement, and it was true; I meant every word.  It surprised me not to see more kippas with logos from passion brands like Apple, Windows, Nokia (Israelis LOVE their Nokias), and others.

In any case we came to an acceptable price range (she couldn’t give me exact b/c she won’t know until they make it), and I walked outside the store.  I posted a check in at Kippa Man on Gowalla (location based service) citing my forthcoming kippa, snapped a shot of the store front (see above), and headed home to start work.  Not sure how the kippa will come out, but if it looks anything like the other work I’ve seen Kippa Man do I’m sure it will be awesome.  Look for me at Legal Tech.

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Tech Talk With Tom Mighell from Inter-Alia

This is a video from my chat with Tom Mighell, award winning legal blogger of Inter-Alia.

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Do You Buy From Social Brands?

Take a look at Mashable’s 100 most social brands.  See any logic here?  Among the top ten were: “iPhone, Disney, CNN, MTV, NBA, iTunes, Wii, Apple, Xbox and Nike rounded out the top 10 in 2009, respectively.”  On lower rungs we saw premium fashion brands and food, but the take away here for business is that tech, news, and entertainment have taken the biggest lead in becoming “social.”  The payoff will be converting social to profitable.  What correlation have we seen that a more social brand is a more profitable brand?  Is it just that the more profitable brands tend to be more social?  Chicken and the Egg … online.

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Tech Talks (New Video Series): Social Media Governance

Check out this new video series I started on our Martindale-Hubbell YouTube channel.  Tech Talks (working title) are video chats with some of the top names in law, social media, and technology.  We have a laid back, 20-minute video chat over Skype discussing your work and anything you want to highlight about what you are doing now.  Future plans include creating two versions of the video: an unedited, basic version posted on YouTube and a premium, directors cut (edited, with music, chapter navigation, and other features), which will only be available in Connected.

If anyone reading this is interested in participating in Tech Talks, please comment below or email my work address at michael.mintz@lexisnexis.com.

Here is the first video I did with Chris Boudreaux from Social Media Governance.  Chris is an interesting guy.  A non-lawyer, he developed a site that houses over 130 social media policies from different companies, a report analyzing the trends in these policies, and a forth-coming publication on the subject.  We spoke about his work, and are going to be working together to get it seen by more lawyers, who I’m sure will benefit from what he has been doing.  Here’s the unedited video:

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Going Green: How Your Facebook Profile Saves the World

Cartoon by Thomas A. Boldt "Tab"

You probably didn’t know that Facebook, Linkedin, and Martindale-Hubbell Connected are saving the world.  Think about it.  You used to go places to network.  Now you do it in your pajamas.  Going to those places used gas, jet fuel, created additional trash (travel size bottles and food wrappers galore), and excess (don’t we all take longer showers at hotels and indulge in liberties like leaving the lights on?).

But it’s not just conferences.  I used to print out photos for relatives and send them to everyone (okay, maybe I didn’t exactly do this – but people do).  Now you share those same photos on Facebook or Flickr.  If people want to print them out they can choose which ones they like and do so.  Printing at home saves a drive to Target, which saves on exhaust used.  This same rule applies to birthday greetings, announcements, and other one-to-many items that used to be shared via mail or phone call (think of the energy you save posting it once rather than calling each person when something happens).

Now you might be saying to yourself, “but Mike, isn’t it impersonal to do everything via Facebook broadcast?  No cards, no phone calls?”

I say to you, “do you hate the environment?  Are your trying to kill your planet? 2010 must be the year where we all wake up and start doing everything digital because it is a matter of life and death for our earth!”  Okay, I’m kidding about this last part, but think about it – the more we can consolidate the means for doing something while reaching broader audiences the less energy we will need to consume, which results in conservation of resources.  And not just environmental resources, but perhaps the most precious resource of all: time.

As for me, I am going to join Brighter Planet’s 350 Challenge. For every blogger who signs up and displays their badge  they will remove 350 lbs of CO2 from the air (don’t ask me how they are doing this).  From their site:

To join in, post the badge to your site, let us know, and we’ll offset 350 pounds of carbon in your name. That’s like flicking off 100 lightbulbs for a day. Or going two full weeks without your car!

So that explains the badge to the right.  Also, you may notice that the design of Mintz’s Wordz has always been simple, with a white background, and thin layout.  This helps with server bandwidth and usage which conserves energy also.  So just by reading this blog you are helping the environment.  Mashable has a great article with 10-ways to green your website.  Tell me how you’re cutting down on your carbon footprint using technology?  How are you using social media to foster relationships and conserve?

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