Blogging impressions: how to change your journal into a blog

This post is about me. And perhaps it’s also about you… When I started blogging I refused to¬†explore the question who I was going to write for in detail. So now maybe it’s time to make up for that.

Who am I trying to reach? Who is my audience?

Well, for starters:

  1. People who have a brain, and are not afraid to use it. If that’s you, consider it a compliment ūüėČ
  2. People who like to learn, and who don’t mind reading stuff that’s about different topics so long as it’s written for non-experts.
  3. People who share one or more interests with me.
  4. Experts who like to extend their own thinking on various topics.
  5. In other words, I aim to blog for people with room in their heads for new ideas or new takes on things they know (although, if they read a lot, I may not always be able to surprise them). I blog for curious people.

Change your Journal into a blogI’m writing for people who are, in a way, like me. It’s quite possible that I’m writing for me. Which I¬†reckoned was fine when I started blogging. After all, I’m my own best-known audience. I know what I like. If you blog for a specific audience without doing research into your intended audience, chances are that you’re blogging for you. If that wasn’t your intention, all I can say is: Oops.

Does all of the above mean you’re looking at my journal right now? Yes and no… So how do I write my posts for you on this blog of mine?

How to change your journal into a blog written for an audience

Unless my planning gives me a topic to write about up front (I’ll admit I’ve been too busy lately), I start out writing about something that’s either fascinating me, or frustrating me, or worrying me, or…
I start writing and keep writing for a while, exploring the topic as I go.
Until¬†the bloggers’¬†inquisitor¬†drops in. I keep¬†this creature¬†outside on a leash for¬†my ‘raw’ draft so it doesn’t chew on the furniture or drool on my keyboard while I’m busy.

The blogger’s¬†inquisitor is that nagging feeling you may know – that may creep up on you when you’re writing… asking:

  • Why would anyone be interested in your problems?
  • What’s in here that could actually solve someone else’s problems?
  • After all you’re not so unique that you could be the only person in the world who has this issue. Are you?

Turning…

At this point I snap out of journaling mode and start writing for YOU:

  1. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of pasting “you” where I was (yes, and the verbs too).
  2. Sometimes it means I look at the issue I’ve described in a whole new light.
  3. And I start describing details of what you might run into.
  4. Then I add tips to counter some of those issues.
  5. A key issue is that I can’t pretend to have an answer for you if I don’t have one. But as a part of my blogging activities I can look for an answer and present it to you in my resulting blog post.
  6. Or I can think about what might work for you, even if I don’t know if it would work for me.

Think about it for a minute. There’s a HUGE difference between a journal and a blog.

What is a journal about?

A journal is essentially about you. It’s where your write about stuff you run into. In the case of an online journal, it allows your readers to recognize, sympathize – sometimes have a lot of fun reading about your musings. Some of¬†your readers may take heart in¬†the fact that¬†you’re experiencing the same problems they’re facing.

What is a blog about?

A (business) blog is¬†– has to be –¬†about your readers. Whatever you put in should be written to benefit them in some small way. That doesn’t mean you should leave out your point of view – that’s the point of it being your blog – right? I’d say it’s impossible to leave¬†yourself out – but you can suppress¬†your presence¬†to the point of squeezing the last bit of life out of your blog.¬†Please don’t.

Painting the picture more clearly…

Compare writing to painting. Turning from journaling to blogging doesn’t mean you stop ‘painting’.¬†All it¬†means is you don’t do self portraits anymore –¬†most of the time.

Your work still shows your choice of topic, your structure, your style, your preferred colors and details. It’s just that your readers are no longer inspecting every pimple on your nose anymore (metaphorically speaking – I hope). Instead,¬†your readers¬†are exploring the world through the¬†words you paint onto the canvas of your blog.

Read more storytelling and blogging:

  • The science of storytelling, by Gregory Ciotty on Problogger.net (14 Feb. 2013)
  • And in this post on Problogger, Jon Morrow gets personal (2011) – much to the surprise of some¬†people in¬†his audience if the comments are anything to go by.
  • Lastly, I talked about audience matters in an earlier post, so in case you missed it here’s the link to that post.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Blogging impressions. You may find previous episodes here and here. And finally, leave your thoughts on journals, blogs and (your) blogging audience in a comment!

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Blogging impressions: the neverending story of content

This time my post is about writing Рand marketing (a bit). It started with just a title:

The neverending story of content

‘The neverending story’¬†refers to a story you may know. I watched¬†the film (a long time ago, here’s a blog about movies you liked as a kid)¬†on television and I read the book at some point. The book was originally written in German as¬†“Die unendliche Geschichte”.Writing content: a neverending story

The film is actually just part 1: a boy¬†who’s miserable in real life becomes a hero in the book he’s reading.¬†His adventures in this fantasy world and his return to the real world¬†take up¬†the rest of the book. The main character spends a lot of time away from the real world – until he starts to forget¬†it,¬†and just about everything else.¬†The last part of the book¬†relates the struggle to get him back to his own reality.

Content is something a lot of people seem to spend all their time looking for and crafting. I’m busy doing pretty much that myself. It’s easy to forget why you wanted to blog when you first started – unless you wrote it down at the time. Along your blogging journey you need to remind yourself if you’re in it to write, or whether you had other goals in mind.

Is your blogging story about writing content or about content marketing?

Content creation¬†and content marketing are two entirely different things. You don’t need to write a single blog post, or have produced a single video, to be a content marketer. It may help to have tried your hand at it so you know what it takes to create original, relevant content. And¬†you may need to create content¬†on a regular basis if no-one else is doing it.

The content marketing point of view

If you’re into content marketing, you won’t mind limiting the subjects you write about.¬†You write only about subject X, which will get readers in and¬†potential customers. If you want to write about anything else you do it elsewhere. If you lack inspiration to come up with relevant posts several times a week, you haul in guest bloggers to lower the pressure. Which is exactly what I see long-time bloggers like Jeff Bullas, Darren Rowse and others do. Of course they first put in a lot of work themselves.

Content as the result of your writing process

Like I stated in an earlier post, I started my blog because I wanted to write. So in marketing-style bloggers’ eyes I’m probably not a good blogger. That’s fine for now! I didn’t call this blog “Content Marketing Wiz” because I wasn’t expecting to take a marketing approach, even though I know a few things about marketing: I know a few things about a lot of things ūüôā

Writing tip: If you want to practise your writing, start by writing about anything you are comfortable with – anything you know. It may be everyday life, or it may be SF because that’s what you read. Any topic will do when you start. Get used to the creative process and start to feel familiar with how it works. Explore any topic bit by bit. Share as you go along.

One blogger said by the time he was onto his third blog he knew more or less what he was doing, how he could get an audience and make a living through his blog.
So either take the business route from day one – or ramble along happily just like me. It won’t hurt – much ūüėČ

To do (pick your own time): update your approach

At some point, you may find that your initial approach to blogging is no longer working for you. Think it over and then change it. Sometimes people just stop blogging¬†– only to¬†discover they can’t really not write any more. Not writing becomes an itch. It may take a while to happen, especially if you blogged til you ran dry. But it will happen – it will creep up on you eventually.

At¬†some point, I may start¬†a blog about art history. But the subject of art history is so far removed from where my career has brought me in the past 10-15 years it would take a lot of time and research to hit ‘Publish’ even once. I’d want to go out there and dig around in museums and archives. I’d need to take days off work. I must admit it sounds absolutely¬†divine – but I’m not yet at the point where I’m willing to put the time and effort in. With a 3-year-old at home, I need¬†my days off for family stuff and for ‘me-time’. Which may mean I take an extra nap to help me kick that flue-bug out the door. It’s that time of the year again!

More reading for writers

Enjoy your writing experience! Share your thoughts about your blogging, content and other neverending stories in a comment.

The content priority matrix – focus your blogging efforts

In my previous post I¬†applied the Eisenhower priority¬†matrix to companies/investors’ priorities. In this post I try to answer the question: how does the money issue affect the nature of (corporate) blogging? I also give¬†away 6 tips¬†for single-topic blogging and my thoughts about part-time business blogging.

The two sides of the content priority matrix for blogging

What is the main issue with blogging to make money in whatever way?

Content Priority Matrix for Blogging

Content priority matrix for professional bloggers

It could be this: the point of anything you do to influence other people is that there are two sides to the window (or priority matrix) you’re looking through.

Where there are bloggers looking out, you’ll find readers looking in. At least, I sure hope so.

Content priority matrix: focus for professional blogging

Professional bloggers, from their¬†side of the ‘window’, would be interested in¬†these aspects of potential blog topics:

  • Money generating topic – adjacent but non-commercial topics
  • Expertise – no expertise

As a¬†full-time professional blogger¬†you would invest most of your time¬†on topics that let¬†you share your expertise and that could yield money by addressing people’s urgent and important needs. If there were a related topic that could make considerably more money you’d spend some of¬†your time extending¬†your expertise in that direction. The other bits you’d leave out or use to add interest to¬†your¬†otherwise fact-ridden business blog.

The ‘expert-no money’ quadrant is also amply filled¬†by personal blogs.¬†‘No money’ may in fact not be an accurate description,¬†because showing yourself to be an expert at anything, including being consistently funny, may still end up in some kind of¬†business or career opportunity!

What matters to business blog readers?

What writing is there on the window sill on the outside – the side of the readers of a business blog? You might learn more by taking a peek at¬†the matrix I made for this post, in which I try to visualize the way we (sensible consumers that we are) prioritize our purchases ūüėČ

  1. Relevant – not relevant (‘important’)
  2. Urgent – not urgent

If a blog post deals with a relevant topic, you’ll read it – note that this involves a decision to invest your time! Now, if I try to coax you towards signing up for more, I’ll have the greatest success if I’m not only spot on topic-wise, but if you’re also convinced that:

  • you need to know more
  • you need to buy this service or product urgently

You’ll find plenty of blogs out there that tell you how you should tackle the issues of being utterly relevant, building trust, and connecting. Crafting a sense of urgency is an absolute knack of some sales folk. You know, the ones who catch you viewing stuff like door locks and come up with a special offer only for today to “help you keep your precious family safe” from the big bad world outside if you’ll go for the Complete Burglar Alarm Set For Pros. Them.

If you don’t want to be pushy, remember not everyone responds well to the “buy now or miss out on a life-changing experience” approach. You can opt to be more subtle.

6 tips for single-topic blogging

“Stick to one topic and forget the rest”¬†is the advice professional bloggers/content marketers give to others who want to make money blogging. To make a single-topic blog work, you need to:

  1. check every month which of your posts got top numbers in readers, subscriptions, and conversions.
  2. skip the rest and focus on the stuff that works
  3. keep experimenting by introducing the odd off-topic post and check the results
  4. plan ahead so you don’t run out of content juice
  5. haul in guest bloggers to take the strain off your blogging or to increase the frequency with which you post
  6. keep an eye on similar blogs for more ideas.

Part-time blogging

As a part time (business) blogger you might find yourself running into a serious writers’ block if¬†you tried to stick to just one topic and write about it several times per week. The alternative is to blog once or twice a month. That’s often enough for blogs that are part of a business website. You’ll keep fresh and relevant content coming without it costing too much time and effort.

The main thing is that you think about your blog and make decisions. It’s fine if you change your mind later – just remember to make another informed decision rather than drifting into a blogging routine you never intended to develop. Especially in corporate blogging, focus is key.

If¬†you run into unexpected topics on this blog,¬†I hope¬†you find¬†them¬†a pleasant surprise. Add¬†your thoughts about content, priority, money¬†– please¬†share this post – I hope I’ve given you food for thought ūüėČ

Money and the infinite pursuit of innovation

Having a couple of million dollars in your bank account takes the urgency out of your drive to innovate… Just last Tuesday I ran into this piece of Stanford research. It shows that an initial public offering (IPO) on¬†the stock market¬†has a negative impact¬†on the¬†level of innovation in a company. I get that. Being rich might even make a lot of bloggers lazy ūüėČ

But.
I wonder where true inventors¬†go after they leave such a company. Do they spend the rest of their lives hanging out by the pool side? Somehow I don’t think so. So why do they leave? An IPO – or the presence of money – seems to cause a shift in a company’s priorities away from creativity. In this post I will explore the issue (without suggesting I did any kind of thorough research myself).

Money Creativity Matrix

IPOs seem to cause a shift to urgency (left) at the expense of R&D activities

Why do innovators leave after an IPO?

At one point in my career I was working at a, well not a start-up because it was a couple of years old, but still a company in the early pioneering stage. Characteristics:

  • Most people around are actively trying to improve the product, or they’re helping out on the stuff that needs to get done.
  • No one gets excited over quarterly reports, but they do get wowed by anything that will make the product easier or more fun to use because everyone wants people to know it and love it and, yes, buy it too.
  • The bottom line is that there is no budget but you’re allowed to tinker. If you have an idea, you check with your boss (the owner/entrepreneur) and he may well give you permission to invest your time, energy, and intelligence. So long as the¬†dull must-do¬†tasks are¬†taken care of¬†too.

Creativity scare #1: investors’ risk adversity

The moment IPO and suchlike is around the corner this all changes. Inventors become the engineering department. That may sound like an important part of the company, but more and more people within the company get interested in things like marketing and quality control and business process management. Which basically means more rules.¬†It means that¬†if you are really excited about something you thought up, you need to make sure¬†you’re talking to the right person by the coffee machine or risk:

  • watching their eyes glaze over as they say “Oh – yeah. That’s great, really great”.
  • having them say stuff like¬†“I’m not sure that’s¬†allowed/safe actually”.

That’s exactly the kind of situation that might, apart from no longer having to worry about money, cause this:

“I find that the quality of innovation produced by inventors who remained at the firm declines following the IPO and key inventors are more likely to leave.” (Shai Bernstein)

Key inventors – that doesn’t sound like people who were in it just for the money. These are the born tinkerers.

Innovations that do pass the risk-and-legal test may have been compromised at an early stage – any part¬†deemed risky is replaced by add-ons to bits that were invented at an earlier stage.¬†It seems that investors want you to do what you’ve proved yourself to be good at, only more of it, and without risky adventures now that their money is involved. Think sequels ūüôā

Creativity scare #2: a sense of urgency

Marketing talk on its own is unlikely to scare innovators away – start-ups all try to come up with a viable product. What else is there? An innovator is motivated by curiosity – wanting to find out how things work, how problems can be solved, products might be improved…

A shift in¬†your company’s mindset from opportunities to threats¬†(to the investors’ money, for example) will lead to¬†decisions based on¬†a sense of urgency. Especially if you have the money to act immediately – you find yourself¬†buying a company that has the necessary tech rather than wasting time trying to figure it out yourself.¬†Added effect is that¬†such an action¬†knocks out a potential competitor, or allows you to effectively monopolize a couple of relevant patents.
Invest wisely – don’t gamble.

How to pull off the combination of money AND the pursuit of creativity

There are at least two things you can do to safeguard creative processes in your company:

  1. I found this sentence: “Firms with more entrenched managers, whose greater job security makes them less likely to be sensitive to market pressures, experience a smaller decline in innovation novelty, and interestingly, their inventors are less likely to leave the firm.” I could translate this as “Firms that don’t get completely taken over by shareholders don’t scare their inventors away as much.” Make sure your company has solid management before even considering going to the stock exchange.
  2. Don’t interfere with creative processes by throwing risk and legal stuff in at an early stage. Let innovators tinker and give them credit for being good at it.¬†This is¬†what companies like Google understand. Inventors, while liking the idea of having enough money to live a comfortable life, need to know they are allowed to tinker (part of their time). There’s nothing quite like someone asking themselves “I wonder if it’s possible to… How about if I try…” and taking off. This is ‘flow’ for inventors. Mess with¬†that and you should not be surprised if¬†your inventors pack up and leave.

If you don’t like the sound of ‘letting them tinker’, you need to accept that your top innovators will turn elsewhere to do what they do best.

Source: Research paper No. 2126 “Does Going Public Affect Innovation?” Shai Bernstein, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, December 2012.

P.S.: I just found myself wondering how this relates to blogging vs. corporate blogging. What do you think?

I hope you found this post of interest! Please add your thoughts about innovation, creativity, and tinkering in general in a comment Рwhat else could you do to keep inventors on board?

The usual suspects: why we don’t buy as readily as we sell

After my recent ramblings about LinkedIn I thought I might return to another topic of interest: marketing and blogging. There is a lot to be said for taking a marketing approach what you do on your blog. Especially if you’re wondering why some things you do just fall flat for no apparent reason.

Buyers Prioritization

You got yourself an audience, a good call to action to get your readers to join your subscribers list, you’re sending them information about your products/services… and then, well, nothing. Well, not nothing – but… You’re an expert. Surely everyone is going to want to buy the valuable stuff you have to offer? Why aren’t the %% higher than this?

In this post I’ll take a roundabout tour through marketing and then get back to your blog.

Marketing and the usual suspects

Purely from a marketing/sales view it’s a matter of buyer’s journey or even ‘buyer cycle’, which has phases to mark where on the road towards your first or next purchase you might be.

  1. If¬†you’re in the right group of people (say busy working mum who loves high-heeled boots but won’t risk twisting an ankle again running after child no. 2) you’re a suspect. In fact we’re all someone’s suspect. We all buy something at some point.
  2. The moment you subscribe to anything, you turn into a prospect: someone who shows a definite¬†interest in the kind of services/products¬†a company¬†offers. In some cases it means you get spammed daily – companies seem to think they need to haul you in NOW or you might end up buying a competitor’s product.
  3. Once¬†you’re in their webshop…
  4. … loading stuff into¬†your shopping cart (or taking similar actions) there’s an almost audible drum roll.

In many cases people never get beyond stage two. Why not? There are plenty of tips out there that focus on mending the leaks in your sales funnel, but I’m not going¬†to discuss¬†incontinent marketing processes here.

Theorize about¬†your¬†potential buyers’ priorities

Think about yourself as a reader of blogs (and a potential¬†customer for someone) for a moment. Since I don’t know you, I’ll make up for this bit by talking about myself and pretending I’m a version of you. In this multiverse there must be a universe where I’m you ūüėČ

You¬†read and view¬†loads of stuff every day, either for personal or professional purposes. Depending on your job and other interests, some topics matter a lot, others a little. There’s one topic that you’re mainly interested in because it affects your job. You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to keep up to date. So you read up online. After all what’s the internet for? Then you attend an webinar. From the moment you subscribe you get spammed by at least half a dozen companies trying to sell you stuff¬†that’s related to the subject of the webinar. Preferably expensive and¬†IT-related. Oh, great…

Enter the wonderful world of the¬†‘buyer persona’

Using¬†a buyer persona (or several) means you basically¬†assemble some¬†characteristics into a credible theoretical buyer. Age, lifestyle, and depending on what you’re trying to sell¬†you throw in a¬†job title, professional issues –¬†or health problems and family situation. It’s a lot like certain police series, where they try to narrow down the group of possible suspects.

In¬†the case where you¬†are the customer, companies are¬†guessing what you might be interested in buying,¬†and they approach you with information that seems¬†relevant. Despite these efforts many marketers still can’t, or won’t, take into account your personal priorities (or your influence on your company’s budget, for that matter). Now, rather than¬†veering off into a discussion¬†about¬†prioritization¬†in this post, here’s a link if you’d like to read how¬†Eisenhower prioritized¬†his to do list. I’ll stick to reinterpreting this handy matrix around the question “to buy, or – to forget about it”.

Your priorities – and how they affect your buying decisions

Many of us – those of us with any savings in the bank, anyway – make buying decisions much like this:

  1. Do I need it? Yes. When? Now!¬†Unless you’re broke you’ll have no problem spending money on things you really need, urgently.
  2. Do I need it? Yes. When? Well, let’s say within the next 3 months. Hmm, I’d better get some more information… and see if I can get a discount somewhere.
  3. Do I want it? Yes. Do I need it? Not really. How much does it cost?
  4. Do I want it? I might, if it’s fun. Do I need it? Nope.

Businesses put a lot of effort trying to close the gaps that make you hesitate. For example, many retail shops know their customers, including you,¬†well enough to be just within the price range you had in mind ūüėČ

Back to your blog’s usual ‘suspects’

When you’re blogging you may get a lot of visitors, but the ones in category 1 are a definite minority. You do need some casual visitors though – a blog that never gets comments, likes, or shares won’t appeal even to people who are looking for a solution to their problem, NOW. So you cater, in some ways, for visitors of¬†categories 2, 3 or even 4. If that means your blog is more fun and less businessy, hey, what’s wrong with a readable blog?¬†But do¬†make sure that there is something for Number One.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If so, please share it – or share your thoughts about marketing, blogging and the like¬†in a comment. Thanks ūüôā

Incoming! Using a content ‘landing strip’ for your visitors

Anyone who tries to get marketing to ‘do’ social media is in danger of ending up in another tiny unit next to the established teams, like I mentioned in my previous post. The effect of ‘siloing’ – chopping up anything to do with customer/contact into ever tinier areas of specialization – is that you get people adding social media ‘on top of’ whatever content is produced by a different team, or probably several teams.

Providing a¬†content ‘landing strip’ to your visitors

Content landing strip for your visitors

Perhaps you’ve found that there are considerably more people who visit your web page than actually click through to a specific piece of content you’d like them to view.

You may be looking at visitors who walk off after passing through layers of information that are not in sync with each other.

A perfect landing strip provides a consistent experience every step of the way toward a particular piece of content you want a certain type of visitor to view.

Compare the following situations.

Situation A: Content and distribution coming from isolated teams

  1. You spot a¬†super-interesting message on a social network you’re using. It fits right in with an issue you run into as a part of your work. You want to know more.
  2. You click the message which leads you to a page on a website. The subject that triggered you to click through doesn’t seem to be there: this page contains a general text about issues people in your business role encounter. There is a report on the page which the message also mentioned, but nothing on the page mentions the specific issue you are interested in.
  3. Now I’m sure there¬†are people who are interested enough, and who know your company well enough to know that you deliver real value in your reports, to click through to the report.

This is no comfortable ‘landing strip’ for your visitors¬†–¬†this track is more fit for a bit of off-the-road experience!

Situation B: Content and distribution coming from collaborating teams

  1. You spot a super-interesting message on a social network you’re using. It fits right in with an issue you run into as a part of your work. You want to know more.
  2. You click the message which leads you to a page on a website. The subject that triggered you to click through is the main topic on the page. The text gives you an example of the issue mentioned in the social media message you clicked on, and refers you to paragraph 3 in the report on that page.
  3. You decide to click through knowing more or less what you’ll find, and where to look for it.

Example number two gives you a consistent experience. It triggers your interest and doesn’t allow you to get ‘lost’.

Is a content landing strip necessary?

Some Рperhaps most Рcustomers are able to find their way to your most precious content regardless of what you do. Unless of course you make it too hard for them. My point is you are not the person who decides what is too much work to get at your content. That decision lies with your visitors.

My bit of amateur psychology:

  • Curiosity, and the optimistic hope that you may have something good to offer them, is a ‘happy’ state of mind triggered by your initial message.
  • If you throw up any kind of barrier that makes visitors to your website ‘work for their money’ some may leave. And they may not come back for a while.
  • Others will still click through but they’re in a different state of mind: searching, analysing which part of your report is the most relevant. For some, solving this problem is a reward in itself, but anyone who is pressed for time will¬†expect more value for, well, ‘money’. You end up having to¬†make your content better to¬†counter the “So what?” attitude you’ve just created yourself!

How do you improve your visitors’ experience?

Creating your landing strip

Work your way from the inside out. Things to consider while designing your visitors’ experience:

  1. Who do you want to view your masterpiece? What do you offer them?
  2. If there are people with different needs out there, you need¬†a¬†bit of information¬†on your website that addresses those precise needs. Two or three¬†‘bits’¬†if you’re talking about a major industry report that addresses issues that are relevant to people with different interests.
  3. A marketing guy will want to see different information than someone in customer service. You may point them towards the same section in your report – but you’ll invite them in different ways. You need to decide if you want to do all this on your website, or on a social platform.

Evaluate the result going from the outside in. Once you’re happy you have every step covered, walk a mile in your visitors’ shoes. My tips for this:

  • Take every step a¬†visitor¬†would take from your social media message down to your content masterpiece.
  • Act stupid while you do so.
  • Do this when you don’t have a lot of time, you’re tired and generally fed up to make sure you nag about anything that’s not perfect ūüôā

That concludes my thoughts about a content landing strip to suit your visitors – leave a comment to add your thoughts on the topic and I promise to reply to anything non-spammy!

4 steps to turn your business (more) social-minded

Sure, social business has to do with content, and with content marketing. It’s an aspect¬†I’m definitely interested in.¬†But¬†content – or a perceived lack of it – is not the root cause of resistance to social business. It’s this:

Social business means change.

If you try to change today’s organizations there are some common hurdles involving IT, organizational structure and ultimately psychology. In this post I’ll give you 4 simple steps to start edging towards social anyway, knowing you’ll tackle¬†each hurdle – when you’re ready.

First let’s take a quick glance at each of the 3 hurdles I’m talking about:

  • Firstly, every change turns into an IT project. Any change to an existing process means redesigning the process¬† – and then checking how soon the software that’s supposed to help you do your job can be adjusted accordingly. Until that happens, your precious software will enforce its own logic on your daily work.
  • Secondly, new activities need to compete with the existing ones. The teams and people who have already gained a foothold inside your organization tend to take up all of the available space, budget, and time reserved for meetings. Anything new is perceived as yet another task when everybody is already pressed for time.
  • Finally, new concepts need to ‘conquer’ established practices.

4 steps towards a social business

The whole target-mindedness in marketing departments is a major issue for anyone who would like to suggest a different way of doing things. Social business advocates are not the first to run into this brick wall.

The predominant force within established (marketing) departments is to nail every new idea down by claiming it – and any available budget – immediately, then:

  • put it into a corner,
  • put one person on it and
  • consider the subject covered.

Do correct me if I’m wrong by being too cynical. I realize I’ve read a lot of Dilbert ūüėČ

4 key steps towards a social business

Here are a few things you can do to get started. It’s important to start with at least a bit of awareness, then try integrating ‘social’ into¬†single tasks before taking it further.

1. Conquer the psychological hurdle – step by step

Let employees (including you)¬†get social with the instruction to learn as much as they can to find ways to use social media in their (daily) work. Use this as a conversation starter in workshops to raise awareness of the differences between private and business communication online. Find out for what business purposes employees (including you) in different roles could use social media. And importantly, translate employee experiences into stuff that improves your team’s and company’s performance.

2. Integrate social media into one or two daily tasks

Anything new will only stand a chance if it’s integrated (as a first step, mind you) into some aspect of daily work.

After you figure out (see #1) how social media can add value for you and your team by making some aspect of your daily work easier, better, possibly faster you still need to determing at what exact point and in what way you will use social media as a natural part of the process.

3. Find a new use for old (and new) habits

It doesn’t take much of your time to share stuff you’ve already found, read and reviewed. By sharing interesting articles you:

  • give more people the chance to pick up on important developments.
  • deliver hand-picked content
  • show them that your team has access to content, knows what’s relevant, … contains professionals who know what’s happening.

3. Evaluate with care

After at least a month, have a first ‘light’ evaluation. Have you needed to tweak the initial idea? Does your method seem to work? If so, you’re ready for a one-month (minimum!) trial to see if you can truly integrate ‘social’ into your daily routine. When that month is over it’s time to evaluate the process (your social routine) rather than the results. That comes next and may take a couple of months.

And what about IT?

As far as I’m concerned, software for anything comes in after you’ve figured out what exactly you want to do without it but can’t. It’s no use implementing some great and costly tool that’ll¬†pin your daily workflow to it like an unfortunate butterfly before you even know what your workflow would look like in your new social business.

That’s it for social business this year – if you want to add your thoughts you’re welcome to do so in a comment, and I still promise to reply to every non-spammy¬†contribution¬†ūüôā