Thursday, January 26, 2012

From the Horse’s Mouth: Tremors and Fandom Courtesy of Twitter

Why Tweet?

There are many things I love about this microblogging platform and the way it enhances my business life and various hobbies. In business I can count on Twitter for an endless stream of recommended blog posts, white papers, and other social media, cloud computing, and learning content that the people I follow post all day, every day.

My music hashtags always manage to point out some new fantastic group, music video, or preview of a new track from a band that dominates my playlist. It's nearly as useful as reddit (If you reddit, you know what I mean, and you should check out r/listentothis)

It's also fantastic to see instant updates around the world the moment news occurs. For example, on August 23rd 2011, there was an earthquake along the East Coast of the United States. It originated in Virginia with a magnitude 5.8 and there were no reported injuries or deaths, though there was some damage to buildings in the area. There was so little fallout, that the initial panic became a bit of a running joke.

In the Saba Lexington office, it translated to this: I was working away and slowly noticed this shaking sensation. I thought someone near me was having a caffeine attack and thrumming their foot against my wall. Eventually it seemed odd enough th
at I stood up, and saw dozens of other people standing all over the office looking around, perplexed.

What was that?

I turned to my twitter stream on Tweetdeck, which is always open on my desktop, and saw dozen of tweets popping up immediately from across the east coast. Dozens of people in New York reported feeling it. Even more Bostonians were throttling the stream with confused updates – Was that an earthquake in Cambridge? My DC friends were much more sure – evacuating – but not before reaching for their smartphones. I added to the conversations, reporting shakes in Lexington. Thanks to Matt Malczewski, a community manager that I met at Enterprise 2.0 2011 in Boston, I found out that the shaking extended all the way to Toronto, Canada.

Thanks to twitter, I knew immediately what was happening before any major news site had broken the news. Yes, they probably released articles a few minutes later, but there is something so exciting about hearing it from the horse’s mouth. Industry peers and friends around the world that are posting their experiences and perspectives with no filter. It’s an extremely subjective but fantastic knowledge exchange. That’s just one moment when I saw the unique value that Twitter offers.

Oh and I also got retweeted by Paul Pierce once. Talk about twitter-related shakes. As a massive Celtics fan, that was pretty freaking unbelievable! I immediately started telling my Boston friends my amazing news, many of whom responded – What’s a retweet?

How is twitter useful for you in your day to day life? And how do you use it to enhance your business knowledge? What’s your best twitter experience?

Shakes? Shivers?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Benefits of Activity Streams and their Implications for UI and Customer Care

I wanted to share a very interesting article that I read this week on the Software Advice blog about Activity Streams. Activity streams are a list of recent activities on a website, that provides direct links to the most up-to-date content and contributors in a social site. An activity stream is a feature made most famous by public social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and they are are quickly becoming prominent in enterprise software.

Blog author, Derek Singleton, points out some benefits of activity streams in a manufacturing organization. He lists ways that activity streams can improve manufacturing software UIs including their potential to:

1. Automate reminders to keep projects flowing;

2. Stream educational information along with project tasks; and,

3. Indicate which projects are most important and require immediate action

Read Derek’s fantastic post and join the conversation about use cases for activity streams for your business!

Derek has pointed out some key benefits to the activity stream. I would like to point out another way the activity stream can enable a extended enterprise community.

This topic is close to my heart, because microblogging and activity feed features are so prominent in the Saba Online Community. Powered by the Saba People Cloud, our homepage features the activity feed function and I can see where activity feeds often foster conversations between our members that would otherwise not occur.

For example, today the activity feed helped to shape and promote an upcoming user conference.

See the way it appeared on the homepage - with links for many options. You can:

*Enter the discussion forum

*See only the first response (while remaining on the homepage)

*Scroll through all responses

*Find out more about the community member who posted the question

A conference track owner posted a question asked for feedback from our LMS customers. This was posted in the LMS group, and notifications only went out to the group members.

Of course he wouldn’t have wanted to notify all community members, so that he wouldn’t be spamming customers who are not interested in the LMS, and who haven’t opted-in to be notified about LMS conversations.

After his post, I saw responses from many LMS customers and partners, but also members who were not members of the LMS Group. They offered their advice for session topics. I also saw an influx of new subscribers for our conference page. Because of the easy to expand listing on the public activity feed, his content reached a larger audience on their own terms, allowing all community members to provide feedback on the presentations in our upcoming user event without annoying them with unsolicited emails, and promoting the event at the same time.

What are some benefits of the activity stream?

What are some drawbacks?

How does your organization foster conversation using social media functionality?