Tweet chat: Community engagement and other topics

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If you’re a small or medium business and would like to hear what others’ experiences are with using social media effectively, and perhaps share your own experiences, the next Dell tweet chat is for you.

Over the course of an hour on Tuesday April 24, starting at 8pm UK, I’ll be moderating discussion on Twitter on these specific topics:

  1. What kind of content do you find most engaging for your community? What works?
  2. What tips can you share for using LinkedIn?
  3. What small and medium size businesses are using social media well? Why?
  4. What tools do you use to listen online?
  5. What are your tips for measuring social media?

How you can participate:

  1. Join the conversation: Add the #DellSMBChat tag to your tweets, no matter what Twitter tool you use.
  2. Listen: If you don’t use Twitter, you can still listen to the conversation by following the #DellSMBChat  hashtag in your web browser.

If you can’t be there, you will be able to see curated tweets in a Storify page, published after the event, as we did with the first DellSMB tweet chat in March.

(Disclosure: Dell is a client who I worked with on creating the Small and Medium Business Social Media Toolkit, a free online resource, with which these events are connected.)

The Social Media Toolkit: a practical guide to social media for small businesses

itswhattheuserdoesIt seems to me that everyone is trying to figure out the role of social media for their organization, whatever size it is.

As more people become become more clued-up about the potential of what social media tools and channels can enable them them do – as well as not do – so the need for better understanding of relevant potential is quite clear.

To me, this view is summed up simply and clearly in this cartoon by Hugh MacLeod from 2007: as the text says, it’s not what the software does, it’s what the user does.

That’s a foundational principle behind The Social Media Toolkit, a free guide to social media seen through the lens of small and medium business, formally launched today by Dell. It’s a product I’m especially pleased with as I’ve been involved in its creation, working on it with Kerry Bridge at Dell for the past few months.

Kerry and I offered a glimpse of the toolkit content in our joint presentation at Social Media Week London in February. Well, now you get to see the whole thing.

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The toolkit comes in two guises:

  1. The Social Media Toolkit website – content presented in a modular format, with easy-to-find sections linked throughout the site. It enables opportunities for including new and updated content over time, and offers a place on the social web integrated within Dell’s overall web presence that’s linkable and shareable.
  2. The Social Media Toolkit PDF – a document of 100+ pages that contains all the content of the website at launch, offering you an opportunity to read that content offline or print out pages, if you wish to do that. The PDF is available for open viewing on Slideshare; you can also download a copy for free in exchange for providing Dell with your contact information.

In both instances, what you get includes practical information on topics like these:

  • Social media policies and guidelines
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Community guidelines
  • Social media and crisis communications
  • Best practices in other organizations
  • How to develop a social media strategy
  • Choosing your social media channels
  • Measurement and influence
  • Tips from social media experts
  • Practical advice to get started
  • And more

dellsmbchatTo complement the launch of the toolkit, and to address the point I made earlier about the need for better understanding of the relevant potential of social media, Dell is running a number of tweet chats in the coming months centred on the hashtag #DellSMBChat.

The first tweet chat will be on Tuesday March 27, 2012, at 8pm UK / 3pm EDT. I’ll be moderating the discussion.

Detailed information about the tweet chat and how you can take part is in a post on Dell’s SMB blog – in essence, just follow the hashtag on Twitter – but here’s the list of topics up for discussion:

  • What is the future of social media for small and medium businesses?
  • What is the primary reason you are using (or considering using) social media for your business?
  • What social media channel do you find of most value to your business?
  • What primary tools do you use to listen to what your customers are saying online about your company and products?
  • Does your company have social media guidelines to enable employees to engage online with customers effectively?

If you’re running or working in a small or medium business, join us next Tuesday for an hour of discussion designed to help you see how to engage and interact more effectively online, learning from the experiences of others who have leveraged social media. If you have an opinion or a question, share it in the conversation.

In the meantime, please make use of The Social Media Toolkit – a useful resource for small and medium businesses.

Related post:

Encyclopaedia Britannica goes social

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Like most bloggers I know, I tend to link to information resources online when I’m writing about a particular topic.

One reason is simply that linking to an explanation of something provides a reader of your content with an opportunity to find out more, or see something in more depth, without you the blogger having to explain it all in your blog post.

And like just about everyone I know, I tend to link to material on Wikipedia more than any other online information resource.

Why? Because it’s easy to do so, it’s free, Wikipedia’s definitions are often all you might need, and because you can have reasonable confidence that what you’re linking to is likely to be accurate enough.

So I’ve been quite intrigued to have been exploring Encyclopaedia Britannica online during the past few weeks and getting to know how a raft of new and free social media-related services, aimed squarely at bloggers and other people who publish on the web, will work.

(Disclosure: I’ve been working with Shel Holtz, whose client US-based Britannica is, on getting advance word out to some people in Europe about the upcoming launch of Britannica’s new services; as part of this, Britannica gave me a free account.)

Unlike Wikipedia, Britannica’s information resources require a paid subscription, one reason undoubtedly why free Wikipedia is an easier option for many.

Now, you can link to the full content of a Britannica entry, without having to have a paid subscription, through a new programme called Britannica Webshare.

[Read more...]

Key elements in blogger relations

A few months ago, I started working with a company called Conjungo to help them gain some visibility in the blogosphere.

conjungo-logoStimulate some interest and, hopefully, some conversations about what they offer. See where and how far a social media approach to getting the word out actually goes.

In other words, putting into practice much of the theory about blogger relations.

Conjungo has an interesting story to tell that I think is well suited to the niche approach of blogger relations. In essence, Conjungo is a specialized search engine, aimed at buyers of technology products and services who want to find a partner.

Let’s re-phrase that rather dry description:

Conjungo is a search engine for technology buyers to find their perfect partners: the suppliers who are located down the road, who have the experience of dealing with the type of company you want, and who you find it easy to pick up the phone and speak to.

What I’ve been doing for Conjungo is researching and identifying who I think are influential bloggers – some of whom are also journalists – and starting my outreach. That outreach has been a mixture of phone calls and email.

It’s not had much success to date, frankly. One reason is my own lack of time commitment to spend on the project. So my outreach efforts have been a bit start-stop so far.

What might gain some visibility more readily may not be as a direct result of anything I do.

It may be down to Conjungo’s blog which they started in December.

I claim no credit for this blog. Although it was part of what I proposed they need to do as we embarked on this venture, they already had decided to start one.

This is a key element in blogger relations and social media outreach generally – having your own place to talk about the things that interest you (which are not necessarily about your product or service) and providing the means for others to easily connect to you.

It’s about exposing individuals and personalities, letting you get a feeling for the people behind a venture.

It’s also about building that all-important credibility that you are part of the conversation. An over-used expression perhaps, but valid nevertheless.

As a result of the blog, Conjungo’s name increasingly appears in Technorati and Google blog search results.

I’m pretty sure that most of the people I speak to will check to see if Conjungo has a blog. Whenever I’m approached by anyone about their client, that’s one of the first things I do.

Not having a blog won’t necessarily result in a closed door. But having one is very likely to make you more disposed to find out more about the company and, perhaps, make a connection.

Another key element in blogger relations is a very obvious one – having something interesting to say. Corporate websites aren’t the places where conversations happen; that’s what blogs can do.

Take a look at some of the recent posts on the Conjungo blog. I’m seeing some more interesting content appearing as they get into their blogging stride.

This one, for instance: "Why would anyone want to go to Google to find a supplier?" It addresses an issue that I bet is in many business people’s minds when they think about searching for something.

Or this one: "The corporate photo shoot!" Some tips and personal insight that isn’t really anything to do with the core business.

Writing this post helps me clarify my own thinking in this still-emerging field of blogger relations. I’m hopeful that it will also plant some seeds for thought if you’re planning any blogger relations activity.

Plus provide a space for some feedback.

Transparency as well as the conversation.

Manchester City goes green

The City of Manchester football stadium – home to Manchester City FC – will soon be the first football ground in the world to be powered by sustainable energy when an 85-metre-high 3-megawatt wind turbine comes online next year.

When it’s fully operational, it will supply enough energy to meet the stadium’s power needs as well as thousands of nearby homes.

According to Pete Bradshaw, Social Responsibility Manager for Manchester City FC, the wind turbine is one of many steps the football club is taking to address climate change.

In a podcast published today, Bradshaw says:

[...] The steps that Manchester City have taken to combat climate change is a mixed bag really and it ranges from a major recycling project, right throughout our organization we have got everybody involved in looking at what we do with products, that ranges from paper to grass cuttings, to glass, plastics, cardboard a whole range of recycling projects that people are rewarded for throughout our organization. And we make sure that that’s done locally wherever possible and practical and we’ve reduced land fill by something like 94% over two years.

On September 27 at the Manchester City stadium, Greenpeace, Ecotricity (the contractor to build the wind turbine), Manchester City Council and Manchester City FC will be hosting the first regional UK presentation of The Convenient Solution, a film produced by Greenpeace about climate change and energy.

The environment group says the film is a follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth, the film on climate change produced in 2006 by former US Vice President, Al Gore.

Disclosure: I produced the podcast mentioned above, one of a series on climate change and related topics for BusinessAssurance.com sponsored by LRQA. I don’t often talk about client projects here, but this relates to a subject – climate change and energy – I have clear views about.

So with disclosure, I’m more than happy to write about it in the hope that it will help raise awareness of a subject that concerns every one of us.

Related post:

Reflecting on experiences

It’s the final stage in a week of valuable learning experiences that’s taken me from Milan, Italy, to Detroit, USA, in the space of a few days, all to do with helping two global organizations get a clearer understanding about social media and how and where that fits into organizational communication.

Because of Shel‘s and my different schedules, I’m not live with him in today’s FIR. I did record a segment last night which I hope he manages to include in the show. We had a brief email conversation last night when I arrived at my hotel at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam (transit stop en route here), and it appears Shel’s had a pretty nightmarish travel experience in Canada over the past few days. No doubt there’ll be a commentary soon at Road Weary.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting in the NorthWest Airlines lounge at Detroit airport enjoying the free wifi along with a pretty tasty cup of coffee as I reflect on my own experiences with two global organizations, leaders and major influencers in their individual fields, and the challenges and opportunities confronting them as they begin to really think about the multiple roles for social media and their own communication strategies.

More later. Just time to publish this post, shut down, grab a duty free and head to the gate.