Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Overeager Super Users: Tips from a Community Manager

Keep Your Community Diverse and Inclusive

Last week at Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Saba and the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) announced the Management 2.0 Hackathon that will connect people from around the world interested in “harnessing management innovation and principles of the Web to build organizations that are fit for the future.”

Some pictures from the Boston E2.0 Conference, where I showed off our community with my colleagues, Aly Kline, Milind Pansare, and Ingrid Stabb.

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in the MIX’s Hackathon Pilot. Along with 60 other contributors, from organizations across six continents, I participated in the Community of Passion Hackathon. The topic, “how to enable and support communities of passion,” was close to my heart, as my day-to-day projects as the Community Manager for the Saba Online Community revolve around empowering community members. The hackathon was structured into different sprints, with all members brainstorming around communities of passion and the “barriers” that impede these communities. After determining barriers, the group collaborated together to create hacks (innovative ideas or solutions). The barrier I submitted was about the possible detriments of overeager “super users,” which was a challenge that we at Saba had identified and addressed within our own online community in the past.

It takes a village.

In any sizable organization, there is no single individual who alone can act as an information clearinghouse and support resource for every question or issue a customer, partner or employee might raise.

It is important for a community manager to encourage all types of users to participate; which was a challenge when we built our community. In early

days of the Saba Online Community, when a customer posted a question, a group of internal employees jumped all over it, giving full, detailed (and correct) responses. I noticed that when a question was immediately addressed with a “perfect” response, the more casual, anecdotal answers from other customers did not often follow. I realized that once someone reached 'expert' status - in this instance, an expert because they are part of the team that made the product - their fast and comprehensive response stifled all others.

This is not the way it works

The dominance of “super users” can leave others too intimidated to post their own experiences and suggestions. When people are collaborating on a specific issue, “super users” can sometimes scare away other contributors, making the pool of knowledge less diverse and the final product less well rounded.

Now that we had identified the issue, we were able to structure the community around a culture of inclusion.


  • Encouraging new members to introduce themselves.
  • Incorporating surveys that allow our members to contribute anonymously and see instant results of their participation.
  • osting discussion prompts that asked about very specific use cases and scenarios.
  • Web 2.0 functionalities built into Saba Social allow for easy feedback, and members can bookmark, share, rate, or comment on content in 30 seconds.
  • Video Channels are a very dynamic way for lurkers (community members who read content, but have never participated in online conversations) to participate, adding youtube videos, TED Talks, and other videos to enrich the space.

The Saba Online Community endeavors to open up conversation, collaboration, and networking between customers, partners, and Saba employees across all regions and roles. We built the community to replicate the vitality and excitement of our in-person user group meetings by applying Saba Social’s capabilities to create a virtual community. Members are encouraged to share business experiences, ideas and best practices; and the exchange of relevant documents, presentations, videos, and more.

  • How do you engage the lurkers and more timid community members?
  • How do you tailor your community guidelines to different audience types?
  • How do you keep your community participation and content diverse?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Facebook today for professional networking: Unblur your Personal and Professional

Facebook is constantly in the social media news, with good reason. Around 2008, it surpassed Myspace as the biggest social network, and has continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Even the recent Google+ beta program doesn't come close to the hype and hot stories around Mark Zuckerberg's college project. Most recently, the country of Germany has declared Facebook's new facial recognition software violates German data protection laws and in Columbus, Missouri a new law may restrict teacher/student interactions on Facebook. Just more drama from the collassal social network.

How many businesses have had a critically acclaimed movie made about their inception? (Even if Mark Zuckerberg hates it) In fact, I think I'm going to have to add The Social Network's trailer here, as one of the best movie trailers I've seen in a long time.

Facebook themselves will be the first to tout their amazing adoption rate. Click here to their impressive statistics. Some of the more stand-out numbers include:

  • More than 750 million active users

  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day

  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)

In addition, the demographics on Facebook have changed drastically in the last 3 years. Gone are the days where facebook was just a college student's party guide. The majority or recent user expansion has been with more mature age groups and it is a rare person that I meet who doesn't have a facebook page. I personally am friends with my great-aunt living in Killkenny, Ireland and my 12 year old cousin in Arizona. Since we are friends, of course, they have complete access to my profile, posts, pictures, and anything my friends put on my wall,

Being aware of your information's visability is key to avoiding blunders in the Facebook arena.

How does your profile page look?

Do you really want to 'share' that with every one of your 500 friends?

And with that in mind, do you want to be friends with your boss? Your customers? That analyst?

It's a tricky, sticky thing you are doing when you use Facebook for professional networking, but done with care, it can produce fantastic results. This blog post is about the first step you should take to keep your personal personal and still use Facebook for making connections in your professional life.

Rule #1 Seperate your Professional Friends and your other friends

Most people don't overshare on Linkedin. They connect to people based on education and past and present employments, and thus don't need to tell themselves not to share their bowling plans that night, or their pictures from their nephew's bar mitzvah. If you want to get traction with your professional contacts, it's best to take them out of the pool for all your everyday- interesting to your sister, not your former colleague-items. To do this easily, you just need to create a list that seperates out your professional contacts.

1. Click Friends from the left column

2. Click Manage Friend Lists

3. Click Create a List

4. Select all of your Professional Contacts to put them in the list

Here you see I am creating a list of Professional Contacts, and making it so my default sharing excludes them. For the inane items that I assume only my friends really care about.

1. Creating the List

2. Customizing my Post Settings

3. Excluding my Professional Contact

4. Posting my beach pictures for friends, not all my business contacts!

That is my #1 rule in using my personal Facebook account for business. Of course there are many other techniques to making the most of it. Most businesses have set up a Facebook Fan page, which can be a huge advantage and a great way to connect to customers. Also Facebook groups, searchable by industry can be a great way to connect and promote yourself. Before I leave you, I want to cite a great example of Facebook networking.

A friend of mine (and a Facebook friend!) works for a production company in London. He always has to keep up with local, entertainment, political, and cultural news for his role. He also has to produce original content based on his connections in London. Here's an example of him using Facebook to secure great leads from his 800+ contacts with a few quick posts.

Facebook Networking

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tweet Chats: A Guide for Joining Twitter Conversations

Are you on Twitter?

It's pretty unsurprising that Twitter can be really useful for the topics I am interested in. When I want to talk social media, communities, networking, and collaboration, Twitter is a perfect place to find like-minded professionals. Using Twitter to discuss Twitter. I know, it is all very meta. I also find nuggets of information on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media tools. Not to mention enterprise social media tools and topics, social business news, and valuable professional connections.

If you are interested in talking about engaging communities, navigating the social media world, and making technologies work for you, you might want to join me in a Tweet Chat.

What is a Tweet Chat?

A Twitter tweet chat is a pre-arranged global conversation that happens on Twitter through the use of Twitter updates (aka tweets: tweet tweet) that include a predefined hashtag to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation.

Formal Twitter tweet chats are arranged in advance and occur at a specific time. They may include a formal agenda with a specific leader or "speaker", or they might involve a free flowing discussion between all participants.

Here are some good ones.

  • #smbiz: A chat where small business owners can get answers from experts and other SMB owners. Takes place every Tuesday from 8 to 9pm.
  • #blogchat: Offers advice on how to better your blog. Takes place on Sunday nights from 8 to 9pm CT.
  • #cmgrchat: Conversations about community management, a different topic each week. Takes place every Wednesday at 2 PM EST.
  • #SMOchat: Social Media Optimization Chat: Every Tuesday at 3pm EST
  • #SMmanners: Social Media Manners - A think tank on what is proper, acceptable, and not advisable in Social Media. Takes place every Tuesday at 10 PM EST

Each of those links takes you to a page for that chat using TweetChat, a fast, free tool to gather tweets in a tweetchat. I'll be on the #SMmanners chat tonight to pick up some social ettiquette tips!

If you are interested, check out a tweetchat and then come back here to let me know what you thought!

Do you use tweetchats? What are your favorites?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Learning, Learners, and Communities: Evolution of the Professional Learning Paradigm

Are we at the edge of a paradigm shift?

Today I attended a great webinar from the Human Capital Institute (HCI) on innovations in the business learning model. It was called From Solitary to Social: The Evolution of Learning.

Referencing a number of studies and books on the topic, this webinar dived into discussions on the audience's current LMS and the role of informal learning in an enterprise environment.

Our host pointed out that in the recent economic recession and in the current recovery, learning always needs to be closely related to competencies and have a real and tangible business value. She tied this into methods for capturing, promoting, and nurturing informal learning.

We talked about breaking down silos and encouraging customers to work across roles and departments to get the most from each other. Social Learning communities can help facilitate these connections by employing Web 2.0 funcationalities.
These inlcude blogs, communities of practice, discussion forums and videos. Learners need to be empowered to co-create content and best practices in formal or informal programs. I've added some great graphics to ponder from the webinar.

Recasts of this presentation are available here:

Recast Schedule:

Friday, Jun 17 2011 6:00pm EDT
Sunday, Jun 19 2011 10:00pm EDT
Monday, Jun 20 2011 2:00am EDT
Monday, Jun 20 2011 6:00am EDT
Monday, Jun 20 2011 10:00am EDT

Are you familiar with Just In Time Learning? The usefullness of Sharing and Tagging? The changes prompted by Millenials in the workspace? Advantages of Jam Sessions or other crowdsourcing projects?

To learn more on these great topics, I would recommend you attend this webinar, which includes details from two very useful case studies: two large companies that revolutionized the learning environment with valuable input from their employees

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recruiting an Advocate Army: Social Media and Customer Reference 5/31/2011

These are notes from International Call on Social Media for Customer Reference Professionals:

I joined dozens of customer reference professionals on the last day of May to discuss the role of social media in Customer Reference programs.

Claudia Koenig from Global Mail eXchange in Germany put together the call and we talked about building an advocate army hearing from Kerri Shea Beers on her blog post on ReferenceSuccess:

Key thoughts
Customers do not want to be pitched to: On certain LinkedIn sites the vendor is supposed to be a listener, for maintaining credibility you need to let your customers speak for you.

When a customer responds instead of the vendor the recommendation goes further.
Who do you want in the advocate army?
* A happy customer
* Active in social media, ideally, they have their own following
* You trust them

The Advocate Army is an elite group, the selected best customer advocates that you depend on.

Depending on your industry and customers, you need to find out where the conversation is happening, Are there a lot of customers commenting on blog posts? Does the bulk of the activity come from LinkedIn? Or is there a online magazine that would have the most lurkers and participants? Your advocate army can also help you find out where your customers are online.

Who owns social media in your company? This will affect the construction of this Customer Reference: Advocate Army. Different people on the call cited social media moving around a fair amount in their companies: from PR to field marketing and onward. One caller said that they knew that they can’t really own it as Customer Reference and thus it complicates this process.

What are your thoughts?

How does social media fit in with customer reference? How do you use social media to engage with customers, or any audience?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Josh T Pearson: Woman, When I've Raised Hell

What a beard! No, really, what a song!

Strangely, I can only enjoy one at a time. I have to not look at the video to really appreciate the song. And I forget all about the music when gazing on that beard... :)

Thanks to Ben Hardy for putting me onto this!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stuck in a blizzard where I was disconnected to the community I work on all morning, I started thinking about how many people are looking at the sun right now, or watching it set, compared with those of us waking up to peer into the blanket of whiteness that has descended upon the East Coast of the US.

I thought I'd share some photos of what my weather is doing.

Are you stuck in a storm?

Soaking up the sun?

Blizzard in Boston

snow encumbered trees

Snow encumbered trees

Deirdre in the Blizzard

Everything I can see is WHITE

snowy boston3

snowy boston4

snowy boston5

snowy boston5

Snow flying off my roof