2nd January 2008

Update on How-to content model…

A few days ago I blogged about the User Generated Help and How-to Content model.  Part of the challenging is managing the transition from static content forward into more dynamic or user generated content.  Today, this blog post was shared with me. This was written by a Directory Services Support Engineer at Microsoft and posted to the Directory Services team blog.  In this example, the experts behind the support scenes are using their blog as a tool to help organize and improve discoverability of the best knowledgebase content available on their topic. 

Nice, simple idea to start bridging these two content worlds.


del.icio.us tags: ,

Popularity: 58% [?]

posted in Blogging, Examples | 0 Comments

6th December 2007

The arrival of The Blog Council…

Well, I’ve been slow to blog this today as I was at the Web Community Forum a good chunk of the day, but I wanted to get something up on this before the moment passed.

The Blog Council has officially launched.

Lots of discussion today about it…I think Lionel over at Dell does a good job of capturing how I feel about this so please have a read. 

In the end, the core issue for me is simple.  I have learned more about social media and community from talking with fellow practitioners than any other single activity.  It’s kind of an oh, duh thing to say, but it amazes me how few people really do get out and invest the time to listen, read and learn. The opportunity to be a part of this and listen and learn from other real world corporate practitioners was way to good to pass up. 

A number of other posts as well you’re welcome to cruise:


Yup, some controversy too and some of it good feedback to think through as this develops.


del.icio.us tags: , , ,

Popularity: 80% [?]

posted in Blog Council, Blogging, Microsoft, Social Media, Voice of Customer, marketing, web 2.0 | 5 Comments

16th September 2007

A Blog Policy does not a Blog Strategy make…

In recent months I’ve offered two posts focused on blogging.

Much of this has come from my own experiences at Microsoft and recent conversations with over 30 other companies about challenges, opportunities and best practices in social media.  When it comes to blogging the most common conversations organizations have both internally and with their peers are around policies and practices (roles & responsibilities, moderation, tools, legal, etc).

This has me wondering where the strategy is?  Given the explosive growth of blogging and where it really came from (individuals), it’s no wonder organizations started by establishing policy.  It’s one of those activities that is born from the front line, not from the board room.  I’ve seen blog policies that range from "thou shalt not" to detailed 10 page documents to simple guidelines that just re-enforce existing company policies regarding competitive information, privacy, offensive material, etc. 

Clear guidelines and policies for employee blogging are obviously necessary, but policy really isn’t the same thing as strategy.  Some may argue (and I partly agree) that blogging and strategy are oxymorons.  They will say that blogs are valuable because they are not driven by strategy but by unfiltered authentic voices inside the company across functions, roles and responsibilities.

Hmmm, I  agree with this, so what’s the big deal here regarding strategy.  Well, I guess the big deal is that I think things should be done with intention.  But, red flag, it shouldn’t be overdone and if the PR dept starts the process of defining the strategy - beware.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really against PR but if you’ve been through press training you likely need to be re-trained in this new web 2.0 world.  If your blogger’s posts are reviewed before published - you really aren’t blogging - you might as well turn off comments and call it web 1.0.

I’m perfectly happy with a blog strategy that is just about workplace health- this means, the business goal is about building employee empowerment.  This shouldn’t be your default strategy for lack of having one, but it is a great strategy if it is the design goal.  In general, strategy should support at least one (preferably more) of the following pillars:

  • Workplace health - attracting, developing and retaining great talent
  • Customer satisfaction - customer service, response mgmt and transparency
  • Cost reduction
  • Revenue - customer acquisition, globalization and marketing
  • Innovation - feedback and collaboration

A good blog strategy need not support all of these pillars and cannot violate the principles of transparency or authenticity, but should bring intentionality to your blog strategy by clearly articulating what it’s for (and what it is not).

When you hit the office tomorrow, try it out.  Go ask people what your company blog strategy is.  9 times in 10, I bet what you hear will be statements that are more about policy (what you can or can’t do).


Popularity: 22% [?]

posted in Blogging, Social Media, web 2.0 | 1 Comment

27th July 2007

"To Blog or not to Blog" Part II

A few months ago I blogged about Blog policy in "Does your company support employee blogging" - for some reason that post struck a cord and was picked up quite a bit by others.  As one of 3-4K Microsoft employee bloggers, I’m often asked about our blog policy and the road we’ve been on to transparency.  How’d we get management support?  How did we get employee interest?  How would I do it if I was trying to repeat the success in other companies?  This last question got me thinking, how would I implement a blog strategy in a company that didn’t have one in place already?

First off, let me say that individual blogs are GREAT and should be broadly supported for anyone who wants to go down that path - I’m an example and advocate for that as core to a blog policy/strategy.  Frankly, I think not embracing employee blogging in today’s world would make you an unattractive employer for anyone entering the workforce from Gen Y.

Having said that, what I haven’t seen as widely spread is a formal commitment to group blogs.  Individual blogs are often challenged by loss of interest by the blogger, change in role at a company, change of place of employment.  These churn issues clearly create risk in continuity.  There are plenty of group blog examples out there, but let me take this one level deeper.  What I’d really LOVE to see is group blogs where the bloggers crossed functional roles in their companies - someone from product, from marketing, from support, from sales, from professional services… This is the type of blog I’d like to read as a user.  Southwest Airlines does this where you see posts from a wide range of contributors in very different jobs at Southwest (Communications, Captains, Executives, flight attendants and mechanics).  It makes for a much more interesting read and as a non-tech company, creates a much easier model for participation for employees.  This approach mitigates the risks associated with churn, drives internal cross group communication and collaboration and better represents your customers end to end experience.

Of course, I still say it is critical to keep continuity in a few of your core bloggers on the site and allow their personalities to come through very clearly - this, after all, is part of what actually makes it a blog!

Am I the only one who loves this idea?  What do you think?


Popularity: 23% [?]

posted in Blogging, web 2.0 | 6 Comments

23rd June 2007

Lessons from a "Blog Post gone wild…"

Well, I’ve blown the relevance of the web metrics on my blog for the foreseeable future.   I thought I’d share a few observations from this weeks T-mobile blog post gone wild.

In no particular order:

  • Page views vs comments:  Less than .05% of all readers (I should say pageviews) commented on the blog post.  This seems pretty typical for blog posts (communities) in general, but it was interesting to see it applied to a post that had over 20K pageviews. 
  • The Digg Effect: About 1 in 20 viewers, "Dugg" it - this became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It became clear very quickly that users who use Digg, Digg.  It’s difficult from the metrics I have to peel this back further, but my rough estimate would be that Digg readers Digg with 4-5 times the promiscuity of other readers.  This makes sense, but is an odd sort of swarming.
  • Digg’s impact on traffic:  Digg is largely a non-issue in terms of views until you’ve crossed 50 or so Diggs, from there it curved quickly.  This post took about 14 hrs to get to that point….14 hrs after that, it was at 1000 Diggs.
  • Good news vs Bad news:  Like regular news, everyone cares about bad news, no one cares about the follow-up (follow up post closing the loop is tracking to about 1/50 the Pageviews of the original).
  • Digg is a social network.  I never really thought of Digg as a social network, but it seems clear to me that there are prolific Diggers/commenter’s who have loose tie connections.  If you follow the comments, many commenter’s "know" each other and frequently swarm together.  I’m not sure what this says about Digg as a news source, but this changed how I think about Digg.  If I was a PR agency, I’d crawl Digg on behalf of my clients and look for opportunities for response (for good or bad stories). 
  • Thick/Thin community contributors:  I once blogged here about thick vs thin community contributors.  Digg proved their example from the previous post.  Prolific "Diggers" are the kind of "thin" contributors I wrote about.  It takes little effort to Digg, but the effort can drive dramatic influence on the visibility of a topic.
  • Tone & manner.  This might be the most important lesson.  Most blogs start with readers who actually know you on some level and blog traffic grows gradually, not exponentially.  Those who know you (follow you), know your writing style and generally know something about your personality.  With gradual growth to your blog, this stays normalized.  When you suddenly introduce large volumes of new users who don’t know you or your writing style, the reactions can be very different.  The example in this case were a handful of commenter’s (and maybe other readers) who thought, based on my post, that I was "yelling" at the CS agent at T-Mobile.  Re-reading my post with this in mind, I guess I can understand the misconception, but those who know me probably can’t remember me raising my voice about anything (except maybe trying to get my Dog not to run in our creek).  It simply isn’t in my character to yell at anyone about anything.
  • Comments moderation:  I have never turned on comment moderation on my blog.  At about comment 125 on the thread I did as I started getting some comments that were truly inappropriate.  In general, I don’t think moderation is good, but you’ve got to have your own standard for this.  I approved all comments except those with really outrageous profanity. 

Overall, the influence and reach of the citizen blogger was amazing, even disturbing.  I’ve read stories and followed other events, but this one was closer to home.  It certainly has me thinking through the importance of using brand management tools/services for trending community conversations on the web as a part of a customer listening system.  The problem isn’t that customers will complain about you (that’s ok and likely they have good reasons), the issue is how quickly you see it and how effective you are at engaging in and responding to the complaint.  I hope I can influence this in my own company.


del.icio.us tags: , , ,

Popularity: 30% [?]

posted in Blogging, Examples, Social Media, web 2.0 | 2 Comments

17th June 2007

A worthwhile example of corporate transparency: Dell…

A former Dell employee posted an article June 14th that got a lot of play:  22 confessions of a former Dell Sales Manager.  Lots of traffic and 1500+ votes on Digg.  In the article, the author goes on to expose a lot of "tricks" on how to work the online system at .  Nothing in this post was particularly anti-Dell, but there are a number of items that it’s obvious if you were Dell you might prefer weren’t posted.

June 15th, the same author/site posted again:  Dell Demands Takedown of our "22 confessions of a former Dell Sales Manager".  This posting racked up 3500 Diggs!!  In it, the Consumerist posts the text of a communication (a few back and forth conversations) from a Dell Attorney requesting that the post be removed.

Ugh…Not a good scene.  Big companies have challenges in working through response management in the web 2.0 world - where you pretty much have to assume transparency.

June 16th, the Dell Community team (responsible for Direct2Dell) steps up with a direct response:  Dell’s 23 Confessions.

Let me say, good recovery Dell.  Yes, it would have been better for this not to happen at all, but in reality, it does. The judge of your commitment to community is in the quality of your response.  Here’s what I liked:

  • The opener:  "Now’s not the time to mince words, so let me just say it… we blew it."
  • Acknowledging other bloggers posts on the topic (Jeff Jarvis) - this says they did some homework.
  • It’s personal, I don’t know who Lionel is, but the post is an "I" post vs "we" - good tone.
  • Tied in a relevant discussion happening in Ideastorm.  More homework here and including real customers in the discussion.
  • Point to point discussion - not negating the feedback or challenging it, just presenting their point of view and links to help.


del.icio.us tags: , , , ,

Popularity: 39% [?]

posted in Blogging, Business Strategy, Examples, Influencers, Social Media, Voice of Customer, web 2.0 | 2 Comments

16th June 2007

A guide for those that are new to this blog…

Over the last several weeks, average daily page views to this blog have increased about 30%…along with it, a number of new subscribers to my .  So, to my new readers…WELCOME and thanks for checking out this site.  I sincerely hope you find valuable things here to read.  For those who have stuck with me the last few months since I launched, a hearty thank you to you as well.  There’s no compliment like a bit of readership:)

As this site has grown, I’ve come to the conclusion it will soon need a re-design with a focus on findability of the "best" content.  But, that is still work for another day.  Given the arrival of more recent readers, I decided to post here a quick guide to the most frequently read content from the first ~120 days of this blog…as well as a few calls to action.

Quick links:

Why this blog started in the first place:  A Logical Beginning.

Convincing the unconverted on Communities:  The 5 part (to date) series!

Part 1: The Analogy

Part 2: Fear by Example

Part 3: The Data/Evidence Approach

Part 4: The Assumptive Close

Part 5: Is your baby ugly?

Business Case for Community topics:

Community Management topics:


Podcasts on communities I’ve done:

#1:  Mobile Tech in TAFE


#3:  Solshare interview

Calls to action:

  • Grab my if you enjoyed reading anything here.
  • Are you ??  Get with it and add me .
  • ?  Add me .
  • Delicious?  "Draft" me here.
  • Check out my day job here
  • Add me in Linkedin .
  • REALLY like this page?  Favorite me in Technorati  (shameless promotion…)
  • And Finally:  If you find things here you like and you blog…have you linked to me?  Thanks!!



del.icio.us tags: , , , ,

Popularity: 18% [?]

posted in Blogging, Business Strategy, General Community Discussion, web 2.0 | 3 Comments

10th March 2007

"Happy Birthday" Community Group Therapy…

Ok, I promise, no Birthday every month, but today does mark the 1 month "anniversary" of launching this Blog with my launch post.   So, how has it gone?  When I started I was committed, but still apprehensive about whether or not I would continue to have things I want to talk about on a regular basis…but so far, it seems I suffer more from too much I want to talk about.   As the month has turned, I have wondered how I should judge success of this blog?  I considered asking others how they evaluate success of their blogging activity (maybe some good ideas will get posted back here).  Ultimately, I decided it’s a silly question.  In the end, I blog largely for myself - a personal outlet allowing me (forcing me) to put what I’m thinking to "paper."  It’s an amazingly clarifying process - therapeutic even:)

In traditional "web metric" terms, I don’t know what to think.  Here are a few factoids…

In the end, to lift from Mastercard, what has been priceless is new connections I’ve made with like-minded people that I never knew 60 days ago.  As is typical in any community endeavor, you learn most from the people around you.  So, thanks to all of you reading, thanks to those who have posted comments here, thanks to those who have emailed me, thanks to those who have linked to me.  It’s been a pleasure!!



Mukund from Best Engaging asked me a couple of questions about this post I’ll elevate:

1. Tell us what you learned. What worked, what did not?
2. How did you get 34 blogger’s to link to you and what are the best things that ensure you get blog linked?
3. If you started a new blog today, what would the top 3 things you do.

Thanks for the questions…let me see if I can add some answers.

Answers to 1):  Tell us what you learned.  What worked, what did not?
Learned: I’ve learned I have more to say than I thought.  I’ve learned that writing is a forcing function for thinking.  I’ve learned there is more to learn outside my normal circle than inside. I’ve learned there are lots of interesting people thinking about the same topic.  Per an upcoming post, I’ve also re-learned the value of built-in curiosity.  And I guess I’ve learned the perceived pressure of an unstated publishing schedule - a drive to keep up.
What worked - Follow discussions and see where they lead from site to site to site - keep unwrapping discussions across different blogger’s and when it strikes you, comment there (and include your URL). No surprise here, but see who people you follow, follow.  Schedule time to "research" - my subscribed feeds are now a serious source of weekly research - not a burden. 
What didn’t work - I’m not sure I know yet?? :)  Give me a little more time to determine what "worked" means to me.

Answers to 2):  How did you get 34 blogger’s to link to you and what are the best things that ensure you get blog linked?    I did spend some time thinking about this.  At this point, I don’t know how to assess this.  Is 34 good or bad after a month?  How important is it to me?  I hope the answer is by writing content that people are interested in.  That would be the dream that would make me feel the best about what I’ve done.  I don’t know if it’s true or not!!  I think the most important thing to do is somewhat obvious - go get in engaged.  Link to others saying interesting things - ask yourself if you are a blogger: have you updated your blogroll lately?  Comment on others blogs (that’s how I found you:)).  This to me is key.  Go thank people for linking to you - common courtesy (Technorati helps me locate).  Track your disparate conversations (cocomment helps with that).  Like anything, you get out what you put in.  I guess that is it so far.

Answer to 3): If you started a new blog today, what are the top 3 things you’d do?  Number 1 is that I would look A LOT more before I leap.  I was inspired and rushed to launch - led me to MSN Spaces…then I switched.  That switch was mildly painful.  I’d look a lot more at what other blogger’s are doing that I like and what I could model after.  I would talk to more blogger’s to get their lessons learned.  I didn’t do these things, I dove in.  I think that is what most people do - as there is some story that is important to them they are compelled to tell and thinking through the "platform" feels like it will delay them.  Next, own your URL.  I don’t like the idea of sitting off in someone else’s "place."  It’s one of the reasons I don’t blog on MSDN (which as a Microsoft employee I could and it would likely be a great way to get traffic).  For good or bad, what I write is a representation of "my brand."  I want to be responsible for that all up.  #3, play.  Play A LOT!  Try new stuff, get experience.  Some will be good…some not…but play, play, play!!!


Popularity: 12% [?]

posted in Blogging, General Community Discussion | 7 Comments

5th March 2007

Does your company support employee blogging?

To blog or not to blog?  That is the question.

Do you know a company still having this debate? (are YOU a company still having this debate?)

Beyond the borders of companies that have embraced communities, I hear this debate about blogging all the time.  There are usually a couple of common objections to employee blogging:

1)  Productivity - My employees have full time jobs, I can’t afford to have them out blogging.

2)  Quality - Are you crazy - content unscrubbed by marketing?

3)  Legal - Are you crazy - content unscrubbed by legal?

4)  Over transparency?

Just so we’ve covered it, let’s talk briefly about these objections.  The first two are largely emotional, but the 3rd can really stop you in your tracks.  The 4th is one you need to debate internally and be intentional about.

Productivity:  How to even begin with this legacy thinking?  What could possibly be more important than having your employees engage in conversations with the people that use your products and/or services.  Are you kidding me?  I’m keeping this one simple, but I can’t believe how much I’ve heard this.  If this sounds familiar, I’m sorry - maybe my post on insights can help.  I’m actually waiting to be challenged on this one in my own role - I will let you know if it happens.  I know people will wonder, how can Sean have time to do all this blogging AND his day job with driving community work at Microsoft?  Perhaps some of my own employees may even wonder?  My simple response is the same…what is more important than the insights I can gather externally to help guide our thinking around communities.  How do you ensure you step out of silo’d thinking that assumes we already know what we need to know?  This is part of my "thinking time" - something everyone, especially business leaders, should make sure they do more of.

Quality:  Fair enough, but unrealistic.  The world is already authoring content about you, your products, your policies, etc and search engines are of who authored it.  You need to participate in this.  You have an opportunity here to change and personalize your "corporate voice."  This is nothing but positive.  Stop scrubbing content and using corporate marketing "speak."  It’s time for your customers to really know you, which means knowing your people.  Let go….. Further, there is an economic case here the "bean counters" (sorry finance:)) will like.  Depending on the business you’re in, authoring content is a tough part of the business.  There are always gaps, you can’t localize fast enough.  It doesn’t cover a broad enough set of topics.  It’s written for the wrong type of user.  By allowing blogging, more of your employees from much more diverse perspectives can participate in this creation.  You’re taking the first step to open sourcing your content and knowledge - (don’t get excited, your not done…you have to push this farthur to user to user voices embraced on your properties).

Legal:  This is the toughest one…and legal is not totally wrong.  Do not do this without legal, that would be a serious mistake.  But, remember, the job of legal (my opinion) is to tell you HOW to do things…not just to tell you NOT to do things!!  See the assumptive close for a refresher.  They have genuine concerns about how IP gets shared and how IP is gathered.  What outward facing guidance is "vetted" (you indemnify) and what is user to user advice.  These issues need to be worked through, but the point is they are resolvable.

Over transparency:  Is there such a thing as too much transparency?  Actually, yes there is.  Remember, you may know the difference between brain storming and commitments, but your readers may not.  Talking about futures when futures are uncertain may create implied expectations that you simply cannot meet.  This is unfair to you and unfair to your users.  This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about futures, but you need to be smart about this and not make implied commitments that you can’t deliver (your company can’t deliver).  In being more transparent, you will gain the trust of your users, but implied commits you can’t deliver leads to distrust - so discuss openly inside your organization what those guidelines need to be and then live with the policy.

Note:  For tips to overcome, go back to Convincing the Unconverted, Parts 1 -4.

I came across many helpful links on guides/tips for corporate blogging on the Diva Marketing Blog I wanted to share…Thanks Diva!!

Also, a "shout out" to Shel at a shel of my former self who also posted this week on the flaws and risks of corporate blogging.  Appropriate props to those he also cross referenced:  Kami Huyse and Randish who have lots of great insights on this topic.   Interesting the topic struck each of us around the same time.

Any of this sound familiar?  What objections do you hear?


Technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Popularity: 18% [?]

posted in Blogging, Business Strategy, General Community Discussion, Social Media, web 2.0 | 17 Comments

rss posts
  • Categories