Daily Archives: September 20, 2007

Not-so-live from the conference

European Corporate Blogging Summit OK, so the live updates were hampered both by the pace of the presentations, and lack of access.

Here are my notes from the other sessions of the day. Again these may be in a stream-of-consciousness format.

Bryan Smith, Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto are a mining company who haved faced issues with activists.
Online reputation management – discussion of how to assess risks and decide how to respond to comments.
Rio Tinto map out who talks about them and how via visualisations. Analyse where clusters of bloggers are writing about them. Watch Technorati etc.

Part-time employees or those on placements can blog… and sometimes do with a potentially negative impact on the image but they are often young, gone before they appear on the radar that is tracking online reputation.

[ my own thought on this… if youngsters on placements do blog like this or act irresponsibly in social media, it could impact their own future prospects… although that may be hard to explain to them at a younger age ]

Bryan has previously posted on his own blog about the “Bill Marriott approach”. There’s a view that if a senior exec has content scripted and created like this, it is of no value. Equally, investors may sometimes question why senior execs blog at all.

Lee Bryant, Headshift
Use cases for social tools within the firewall
The ‘MySpace generation’ expect the same tools at work and at home [ this is one of my themes when I speak about virtual worlds, incidentally ]

Slide on enterprise social tools… broken out into individual blogging tools like MovableType and WordPress, wiki platforms like MediaWiki and Confluence, and RSS applications. Lee also listed Lotus Connections under the heading of “Combined Suites”, along with a couple of others.

Concept of the “social stack” – an interesting way of looking at how these things stack up – presented here from the bottom of the stack to the top.

  • feeds and flows (RSS data)
  • bookmarks and tags (link to the news items in RSS)
  • blogs and networks (pick out individual items and comment on them)
  • group collaboration (social filtering)
  • personal tools (organise the blocks of information on personal portals, manage feeds and networks)

Contrast this new social stack with traditional static intranets where it has been hard to persuade people to publish and share.

How feeds and tools contribute to peripheral vision.
Attention metadata is the future – how do we gather information about what people look at in order to improve recommendations?

Use cases. Important to come up with some in order to avoid people starting to use new technologies purely for novelty value!

  • knowledge sharing in teams
  • business social networking – finding expertise internally (LinkedIn, Facebook)
  • innovation using social networks – surface ideas through social conversations
  • distributed learning communities – mentornet – wiki-based learning
  • collaborating beyond the firewall – connect with partners
  • internal comms

Re-inventing the intranet… “Intranet 2.0”… wiki-based publishing on intranets… blogs, profiles, tagging, social bookmarks (hey, sounds a lot like Connections!!)

… example … a wiki-based Intranet that Headshift built for a customer based on Confluence… doesn’t look like a Wiki though, graphics etc., mashups of Google maps.

Paul Squires, New Media Manager at eon
Paul talked about eon’s experiences with blogging and podcasting, internally and externally.

[ side note, I was amused that only a few people said that they had heard of The Cluetrain Manifesto, given that Robin mentioned it first thing… 😉 ]

Examples of eon’s use of podcasting – short (15 minutes), focused. Each episode split into short segments.
Discussion of the podcast production process.
Issues: some corporates limit downloading of MP3s through firewalls, people not allowed to plug in USB devices, etc.

Field staff can be great corporate advocates, and podcasts are a good way to reach them, especially when they are on the road all the time [ true – I dip into podcasts when I’m on the road, too ]

Currently using CommunityServer for their blogs.
Used Twitter for the Tour of Britain event sponsorship. Fed a newsfeed to Twitter. This Twitter feed ended up being the only place to get news on Tour of Britain, not even the BBC were carrying reports.

Interesting issue over regulated industries. Regulators want to see complaints being recorded and handled – so customer service reps wanting to help customers resolve issues via external blog comments can cause regulatory issues.

[ note: it’s a shame that so few of the presenters have been here all day – there would be much less duplication and more conversations arising from the similar points being made … for instance, Paul mentioned Cluetrain and a few other things that had been talked about earlier ]

Mark Harris, College Hill
Blogs in crisis management
Why monitor the blogosphere? Well, numerous companies have had issues. Range of stories about how some real examples panned out.
Your organisation may be under attack, but your competitors might be under attack too – and this matters as it may affect how your company might be seen. Are your employees blogging? Do you know about it?

Consider the scope of a crisis generated through blogs. Is the poster a prominent author, is the item heavily linked?
Need care in responding to a crisis. Lawyers letters get posted to blogs, don’t bring things to the mainstream media if it isn’t there already.

When posting… use clear and defensible facts, and link to source material; Be respectful; Correct your own mistakes and acknowledge them [ note: these things are embedded in IBM’s blogging guidelines already ]
Mark is happy to hear from each of the presenters today that their companies have blogging guidelines… but what about new starters? Worth checking on existing electronic footprints, and tell new starters about blogging guidelines, find out if they have a blog etc.
Blogs can complement how an organisation responds to criticism.
If a blog is used to respond to an issue, keep it going, don’t drop it.

Summary – blogging “is part of the comunication tool kit”, but not all of a communications strategy. Blogs can play a part in crisis management.

Conclusions
Overall, a very interesting day. I was particularly pleased with the range of viewpoints on offer – every presenter had a slightly different take on social media, ranging from my probably full-on enthusiasm[1] at the start of the day, through the more cautious notes from legal and regulatory angles, to how to drive these technologies into enterprises. Fascinating stuff. I also really enjoyed talking to the attendees… most of whom are not already blogging, and had not heard of sites like Technorati… it was good to spread the word and (hopefully) contribute to a wider understanding of this space.

[1] so much so that I completely forgot how to form a sentence at one point – I’m blaming that on too much enthusiasm rather than lack of caffeine.

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Live from Corporate Blogging Summit

I spoke this morning at the second European Corporate Blogging Summit at the Danubius Hotel in London. I’ll try to share my slides soon, but for now I’m listening to my fellow speakers. I’m here with Karl Roche.

Interesting to note that only a couple of attendees at the summit admit to having personal or corporate blogs either internally or externally… so it seems that a lot of people are here to learn, which is great.

Photo by Robin Hamman

Stream-of-consciousness follows…

Robin Hamman, BBC Blog Network
Robin was the chairman for the first part of the morning and kicked things off with a discussion about the evolution of online communities. Some excellent points about how sites like Flickr and Twitter can be used… I didn’t know that some BBC folk are Twittering around the Rugby World Cup (integrated into the BBC site… I just can’t locate it!), for instance.

There’s a cost associated with online applications – managing registration databases, the need for Data Protection laws to be applied, the need to moderate in some cases.
Robin made the useful distinction between hosts and moderators in online communities – hosts need to keep an overview of a community and keep things on track, before calling in the moderators or “police” if things get heavy… particularly important in some BBC properties where stuff needs to be watched. Companies need to think about the skills required for staff who are taking on these public-facing roles. Good point.

(Robin already posted some remarks about the first couple of presentations – he did have the advantage of being able to do that while I was speaking!)

Dan Cooper, Covington & Burlington LLP
Dan ran a discussion of a lot of the legalities companies need to be aware of… essentially it’s important to have a clear blogging policy. Useful review of some of the key legislation and how corporate exposure has potentially increased. I’m going to direct you back to Robin’s write-up since he clearly took much better notes than I did… but I was interested in a discussion about whether or not to pull content, and how libel laws can be applied.

Pete Cranston, Interactive Media Engagement Advisor, Oxfam
Excellent and enthusiastic discussion on “blogging to engage”

Oxfam found that they were able to engage with a young audience (via e.g. Oxjam). They did a ot of work last year through MySpace due to the music culture. Oxfam is involved in lots of networks – Trailwalker, festival campaigning.

Over two years ago Oxfam launched a youth website – generation why – which focuses around a collective blog. There’s a debate about whether this is a sub-brand or a product… Pete sees it as a product which can also be used to drive traffic to main site.

Lessons learned from generation why – “trade control for reach, feed the network”.

Oxfam experimented with a director’s blog – it didn’t really work – the directors are great managers but not bloggers – so they dropped that experiment.

Event blogging with live Twittering seems to work really well for Oxfam.
They are also using MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr
Example – Fairtrade Woman in MySpace… vodcast of someone trying to live on FairTrade food for a month (myspacetv.com)

Other lessons for getting started: video blogs can work well for people who can’t write or whose writing is too formal; possibly post photos and add slogans; take a photo at an event, come back and write about it.

More to come…

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