Ok, so you read my earlier post and watched the part of the video. You’re convinced that you should be involved and want to know what you need to download or buy to get started. Well, not so fast!
Hopefully, you picked up on the conversation in the video about how you need to think about the what, where, why, who and how of blogging and social media before you just throw something up. Remember Chris Pirillo saying companies were saying they want to be “Web 2.0 compliant, Like it is a standard”.
I like to think of this as the proverbial three legged stool where one leg is “Concepts”, another is “Strategy” and the third is “Tools”. You should work this through in that order. You should take some time and understand the basic concepts starting with blogging. Follow a couple of Blogs and get or use an RSS reader (RSS another concept to understand).
Listen to some Podcasts; you don’t need an iPod or mp3 player to listen to them. You can use your computer to listen. If you have iTunes, look at what they have available as Podcasts. If you don’t have iTunes, download it; it’s free as are the vast majority Podcasts (Ricky Gervais, the comedian, has put a charge on his newer casts). Listen to how businesses are using Podcasts and think about how they may or may not fit into your business.
Check out a few companies to see what they are doing. One business site that is a must see is Cisco. They have gone full bore into social networking and building communities on their site. There are other technology oriented companies like HP, IBM and Microsoft who have a large number of the technical staff blogging about their products.
Once you have the concepts down, you need to develop a strategy around the what, where, why, who and how.
- What is it that you want to accomplish?
- How do you expect to fit this into your current operations and how might it change the way your functional organizations work?
- What is your corporate policy regarding blogging and what is allowed and what should remain sensitive or proprietary?
- Who in your organization do you think will be good representatives to be online talking about the business?
- Start with your engineering and product managment teams.
- Will the CEO participate? Customers really like the idea of having access to the business leader.
- What about Customer Service, are you thinking about changing the way you communicate with customers using social network tools? Maybe you can replace static FAQ’s with a blog where everyone can see the questions, all the answers and even ask new questions?
- Should you put up a Wiki (a collaborative workspace) where customers, distribution partners, industry experts can help you build your next generation products? You can controll access if you need to.
- Where will this new tools/applications exist?
- Do you put up a new, complementary web site that sits behind your firewall or use a hosted solution?
- Do you add capabilities to your current web site?
- What about access to your current documentation? Do you already have some Content Management System or will you need to build one?
- What metrics will we use to see how effective this is in meeting our goals?
Hopefully, as you read through this list you begin to see what you just don’t throw something together and get it up without thinking through the above issues.
Once you have your strategy, you will know what you you need to accomplish and you can begin to look at tools and systems that will meet your needs. Luckily, a number of companies have developed suites of applications/tools that were created with the idea that they will be used in businesses and there are more coming to market every month.
In the next few posts, I will cover some of the tools. If you have any questions, make sure to ask them using Comments. A good source of learning the concepts is Wikipedia. This is lots of content and descriptions tools and applications. You can also leave me some contact information and I can send you some papers my company has developed on the subject.