Interesting take on digital employment prospects…

Here’s an interesting, possibly controversial, possibly visionary approach to restructuring from Giles Rhys Jones and Jonathan MacDonald. Both blogs are essential reading.

Will and Skill

I’d be interested in seeing whether people agree or violently disagree… Certainly makes more sense than the vague notion of an impending headcount reduction based on undisclosed criteria.

(Most definitely a comment not related to any particular company, including my current employers!)

Edit: In a moment of incompetence, I forgot to point out that it’s in relation to media companies.

Still waiting for the IT revolution…

Back in January 2007, I wrote about how ‘IT could lead the revolution‘, hypothesizing how the IT Support in a company could become valuable for more than just supporting locked down computers – and how they could lead change by allowing everyone to download, install and play with new internet technology, and that responding to the risks this inherently raises means they would be up-to-date and possibly even generating their own ideas and technology.

Since then, the rise of social media etc has seen even more demand for toolbar plugins and access to Adobe Air etc, yet i’m not aware of any firm with IT support that actively operates in this way.

So I’ll throw it back out there and see if anyone knows of a proactive IT dept which encourages users to experiment, and enjoys dealing with the challenges this creates – because there’s even more of a need for that support now than there was 22 months ago.

Particularly as it’s a great way to ensure that human on-site interaction is needed, safeguarding jobs and possibly driving new revenues, rather than increasing automation, documentation and distance encouraging outsourcing.

Corporate twitter acounts spawn ‘Twitteriocy’

Picked up via Pistachio Consulting, is Jeremy Pepper’s post on ‘Twitteriocy’, or some simple rules on how to use a corporate Twitter account, and basic etiquette – inspired by a personal encounter with someone following him.

While I don’t think microblogging benefits from too strict a set of rules, the guidelines he lays out are simple and provide a pretty good grounding.

Be yourself, don’t follow everyone back, use a decent client like Tweetdeck, be engaged, be personable, be responsive, be a person, and remember that social media, including microblogging, doesn’t work for every company or individual.

So something very similar to the best practice for all social media!

I’d add:

  • Be realistic, and don’t expect 1000 followers overnight, or 1000 referrals from every link you post.
  • Stick with it – if you’re going to use these tools, be prepared for the mid-to-long term commitment needed. It took me two attempts at using Twitter to understand why it was so invaluable and addictive. And far longer to try and find the right level between addiction and a reasonable amount of time investment.
  • It might still be worth registering your brand name to stop ‘brandjacking‘, but use it to lead people to your real representatives.

Any more?

Sometimes it’s best just to step back…

I actually intended to write a post about Digg today, and got halfway through it, when I realised that it would actually benefit from a bit more thought, research and polishing.

It comes on top of a few days which have seen several plans need to be adapted or comprimised, and several challenges. And it’s reminded me that although many of the people I work with have understood or seen the benefit of social media and community as part of the overall strategies for marketing and the business as a whole, there’s still a lot of work to make it more integrated, show more of the benefits, and recognise where improvements can be made.

It’s easy to put the blame on other people. ‘They’ just don’t understand. ‘They’ just don’t get it. Surely it’s obvious that ‘everyone’ is becoming networked? Why can’t people just get what I’m doing and do everything I ask/need/wish for?

But with a bit of perspective, things get a bit clearer. All the people I deal with on a daily basis have lots of concerns, and the use of social media is just one part of their jobs/roles/lives/plans – and for some it’s a fairly small part.

And that’s how it should be at the moment.

Eventually, I believe that the tool of social media should be integral to everything we do. And it’s something I often hear within the social media echo chamber. But in reality, it’s down to people in roles like mine to drive results, work through problems, and interact properly with others to ensure there things happen, and that everyone within the company benefits.

It’s ironic really – using something so social starts with me re-evaluating the individual role I play and how I play it!

(For those expecting a post concerning Digg, it’ll come tomorrow, I promise!)

How I would use Twitter to deliver great Customer Service!

What the experts say

Today, Joel Postman posted on corporate twittering at SocialMediaToday He makes some good points – the first being that we should know the site is official and another is that the corporate twitters must be empowered to help the consumers.

My experience of customer service via Twitter

I planned today to follow my previous post about the apparent pointlessness of corporate micro-blogging. One of the things I was going to say was that my experience of corporate twittering is negative. A rep comes back to you and says “what is the problem?” . I waste time replying and that is the last I hear of them. So certainly, if corporate twitters can do something for me, I am persuaded. Otherwise, I don’t think Joel’s suggestions go far enough.

Twitter as crowd sourcing

In the post I had prepared before I read Joel’s article, I was going to liken twittering to crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing has three important features:

  • Anything we do is small, easy and completely repeatable.
  • Anything we do is redundant – the show will go on without us.
  • Any useful outcome of crowd sourcing could have been generated from any one of the crowd.

Twiitter fits the crowd source model well. When people recount the benefits, they almost always say they get solutions to problems – not from specific people but from anyone who happens to the be listening. Sometimes you get a solution and sometimes you don’t.

Having a customer rep scanning for messages and trying to answer them quickly and effectively is a different model entirely.

Barack Obama’s nifty use of Twitter

Barack Obama’s use of Twitter exploits its broadcast facility. No one answers if you reply with DM! A normal reply takes you in one click to the speech that he is making at the minute. Next to the videocast are four buttons, encouraging you to take action for his campaign in one of four easy clicks. That is a good use of the “minute action” model of crowd sourcing.

Corporate use

I haven’t seen any other corporate use that is any good at all. We may love Twitter, but we won’t be thanked for trying to use it to do what it can’t.

What I would try if I had to!

If I was using Twitter for customer service, I would reply automatically to any Tweet about my company, with a link taking to the customer service line. Then would link up the customer service line to txting, email, DM, Skype, so my customer can communicate quickly with whatever medium they have to hand.

Twitter would come the opposite of ‘broadcast’. It would be a listening post where I can find customers having hassles and move them to a channel where I can help them.

Positive feedback

I might have one rep scanning for Tweet’s that are positive and reply publicly thanking them for the compliment! That should be contagious! It would be a great experiment if any corporate would like to try it?

PS Joel, when will SocialMediaToday fix its comments so we can participate. Notice 0 comments, so it is not just me, I think.

Dan’s Note:

Further to corporate Twitter accounts, there are some which have started working in the way Jo describes, using the likes of Twitter search to monitor for mentions of a company or product and then responding. They include Comcast, Dell, Zappos, Qik. There’s a list of all brands on the Fluent Simplicity blog, and we’re compiling our own list – hopefully building on this by separating the good and bad, and listing case studies which show how Twitter and microblogging should, and shouldn’t be used. You can see the Business Case Studies for microblogging and Twitter here.

Corporate twittering, I mean what is the point?


I’m a spectacular dunce when it comes to marketing.  I look at glossy pictures in a doctor’s waiting room or on a plane or at other moments of ‘dead-time’ and I can be impressed by something good-looking – but do I go out and buy it?  Never.

I don’t trust marketing either, or rather for me, it generates distrust.  A two-for-one deal just reminds me of your utter disloyalty to me.  You can supply me at a price and you don’t normally.  If you are willing to cheat me over money, what else will you stoop to?

So with that disclaimer and no apologies at all to people who make their living from marketing (I know you are enjoying a jolly good party and I think that is rather smart of you), answer me this question.

When and why should a corporate use Twitter?

I mean, what is the point?

Here is a list of brands on Twitter.  When would you follow them?

I do follow BBC.  They are an old habit – much like continuing to drink tea when I don’t like English tea (yep, I don’t, I miss the tea we used to grow in another life).

I do follow Barack Obama.  He alerts me when he speaks and I can patch through to a video.

  • There is a clear response that I need to make.
  • I am instantly rewarded with something I want (to satisfy my curiosity about what he actually says)

What are the rules of thumb for Twittering when you are a corporate?

Solve one problem to justify social media marketing to any boss

There’s just one problem which requires solving to finally put social media/buzz/community marketing people in a position to easily justify investment and resource.

Image by uBookworm under Creative Commons

We can all measure the splash of a promotion dropping into our worlds.

But what we need to do is be able to measure the quality and quantity of every ripple it makes, and everything else it disturbs, and combine all those measurements into one, simple, and hopefully big, number.

Until digital and social media advocates are in positions of responsibility in large companies around the globe – that’s what it takes. And to get to that position, you have to either accommodate the measures of the old school, or start a new firm and grow to the size of a global megacorp. In the meantime, we need to be famous to 15 people for quality,

and still show we can also reach 15,000 with anything down to the merest 5th hand whisper.

The problem is, measuring every single effect of even a single conversation is near impossible. But the closer we strive to it, the more influence and reach we can report back.