Category Archives: Web 2.0

Gaining executive commitment to interactive intranets

Are you finding it difficult to get the executives in your organisation to buy into the need to use social media tools in your Intranet? We find that the business case is a good way to achieve this.

In many of our clients’ organisations, the Intranet is little more than the place I go to, to see the lunch menu or get my leave forms.

It’s no wonder then that executives don’t realise how powerful it could be. The advent of social media is all too often seen to be time wasting and a waste of bandwidth.

Microsoft has just released SharePoint 2010 which contains the latest collaborative tools embedded into its content management and sharing tools. Social media is going to become the norm in large corporates. Companies are migrating to this platform or looking at other collaboration tools to enhance performance in the organisation. The challenge now is to get the full potential of social media on the executive agenda.

We have found the business case an effective way to get executive attention.

A business case clarifies the value of any opportunity. It is the single-most important document in gaining commitment to the strategic interactive intranet or any other opportunity.

A business case is part sales and part marketing. It represents the opportunity to present a compelling justification for funding an investment to achieve the organisations mission, goals and objectives. An effective business case generates the support, participation and leadership commitment required to transform an idea into reality. A business case identifies an opportunity. It provides context and content and describes the desired objectives and outcomes in terms of the business. It describes how and who will be affected. The how and who typically evolve around individual or organisation behavioural changes.

The business case will breakout specific alternatives and their associated impacts. A strong business case for an intranet investment puts that investment decision into the strategic context and provides the executives with the necessary information to make an educated decision.

Putting a business case together for the interactive intranet

Interaction between employees is not new, but for the first time, the ability to interact online through the Intranet is becoming a reality. This is going to have a significant effect on the way we do business. In the same way as eMail changed the speed at which business is conducted the Intranet is going to become he strategic backbone of the organisation and is going to significantly impact on our effectiveness efficiency and the way we do business. But we have very little historical evidence and case studies which have quantified the improvement brought about by this interactivity.

Traditionally, innovation occurs in products, processes or business models. The latest thinking has been well researched by Gary Hamel in his work The Future of Management. The modern Intranet is not only a new tool, but it also enables new ways to manage people. For this reason, we cannot use the past to forecast the future. Our best attempts to make a case for an interactive Intranet are going to have to be around describing the intangible business “steroids” on the Balanced Scorecard as defined by Kaplan and Norton , which lead to business improvements.

You need to put a business case together in order to justify the resources and capital investment necessary to create an Interactive Intranet.

The Business Case is usually primarily a financial document, however in the case of using SharePoint 2010 (or any other web 2.0 enabled CMS software) in order to create a robust Interactive Intranet, the software and concept is so new that there is very little evidence of what differences these new tools can make and there are so many hard and soft permutations that it is difficult to quantify the financial implications. We therefore have to modify our approach to developing the business case to looking at those variables which, if enhanced using SharePoint 2010’s capabilities, will deliver on the organisation’s business objectives.

We find that the best approach is to:

  • Understand the organisational objectives and identify where the interactive Intranet could support delivery;
  • Analyse the internal variables (culture, competence and processes) at a high level, which could influence the successful attainment for the business objectives;
  • Look at what is happening in the competitive landscape;
  • Identify relevant best practise which is enhanced by SharePoint 2010 and can significantly enhance competitive advantage, such as Collaboration , Crowdsourcing and Innovation etc;
  • See where else SharePoint 2010 has made a difference for other Microsoft clients (if our client is migrating to SharePoint 2010), alternatively look for case studies on interactive intranets; and
  • Make recommendations for the prioritisation and roll out of the Intranet optimisation strategy.

We document all the relevant facts and link them together into a cohesive story. This story tells the executives about the what, when, where, how and why.

  • Why is the project needed?
  • How it will solve the issues or opportunities facing the organisation;
  • How the solution addresses the issues or opportunities (benefits);
  • What will happen to the business if the project is not undertaken (the do nothing scenario)?
  • Priorities and timing;
  • An indication of how much money, people and time will be needed to deliver the solution and realise the benefits: and Suggested Metrics for quantifying success.

By documenting everything together in one story, it is easy to link the issues to the solution and the benefits and identify where the organisation would be without the project.

The development of the overall business case also identifies holes or problems with the solution. Moreover, the organisation will have a way to measure its success. This analysis is also be useful for the leadership team to prioritise this project against the many other initiatives that require capital investment.

The business case provides a consistent message to many different audiences. As a high level view of the entire project the business case manages the expectations of all the stakeholder divisions affected by the project (customers, management, operations, research & development, service, sales, accounting, finance, etc.).

The length of the business case should be kept to a minimum, ensuring it stays on topic, presents relevant information in a clear and concise manner and it be focused on supporting management in making decisions.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We write business cases, create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

A quick guide to writing for the web

The contemporary web and the way we use it is changing. Gone are the days when you developed a website and forgot about it. These days, websites are much more interactive, accessible and transparent. With more and more people going on line to find information, websites are becoming a powerful way for businesses to serve their audiences.

The Internet is all about collaboration, sharing ideas, information and concepts with people. Writing for the web is different to writing for print media because of the way people consume information on line.

Think about how you use the web. You’re in search of information and if you don’t find it on the page you’re looking for, you click away and look elsewhere. In this attention deficit era, it is vital to serve the right information to the right users in the right way and retain their attention.

Internet users, in general, “snack consume” because of information overload and time constraints.

When writing for the web it is important to remember that great content is vital and being able to find what you are looking for is of paramount importance. It is the key for convincing audiences to take your desired actions and conveying commitment to them.

Good writing techniques will enrich your reader’s experience by making information accessible and creating value for audiences. Websites need to be dynamic to keep them relevant and interesting. You need to provide them with timeous  updates that offer them a reason to return to the site regularly.

Content writing that’s current and kept up-to-date makes a positive statement. Here are some steps to achieving this:

Analyse the audiences

You have many audiences that need to be catered for. Understanding your audiences is important to evaluate the specific needs of each niche group. This will help you organise the information in a way that makes sense to them and direct the content you create.

Before writing:

  • Know your audience – which audience are you writing for?  Find out their levels of digital literacy, who they really are and what they would like/need to know;
  • Know your services –understand your offering and look at it from the view point of your audiences, What actions do I want them to take?; and
  • Understand the users’ emotions – tap into their positive emotions like generosity and pride. What information do they need in order to take action?

“It is not about digital. It’s about people.” – Robbin Phillips

Aspects of good copy

Research into the way that people use a website, indicates that adoption will take place if three conditions are met:

  • They must see the point, they should have a reason to read the content;
  • It should be easy to use; and
  • It should make them look and feel good.

Here are some essential guidelines for writing content that will fulfil the three overarching principles of engaging the audience; delivering on user requirements by providing the information they require, being easy to understand and making the user look and feel good.

Good headlines will attract attention to copy before images. The first couple of words are the most important as readers will scan this before deciding to read further. Headlines must therefore be specific to the topic to attract and retain attention.

Make the page name the heading name as this will improve the SEO. The keywords in the heading or title of the page need to be the keywords for the topic of the page and to be about the content as this will also assist when the topic comes up in search engine results.

Descriptive headings are more beneficial on the web rather than a play on words that attract attention in print media.

Subheadings need to be intriguing and informative, too.

The information that you provide needs to stand out to the reader. Layout techniques help to attract or prevent users from reading the copy. The content should be easy to read.

Content structure complements the information and message. When you share information provide the background information which will help them understand the core message.

It should be easy to skim through and to find the information they are looking for. They will be attracted to information if the writing is simple. A long paragraph will have fewer users reading the content rather than a concise description which address and highlight the main points. Paragraphs should contain between three and four sentences. You can even include single sentence paragraphs.

Useful points to help make content easy to scan include:

  • Clear and concise headings;
  • Bulleted and numbered lists, three bullets is usually the optimal number;
  • Short paragraphs with short sentences and one thought per paragraph;
  • Do not use all capitals in any sentence as it feels aggressive and is hard to read;
  • Use Bold and italics for emphasis; and
  • Use descriptive links for example “Click here for a map”.

Your writing should take the shape of an inverted pyramid in which the main point is introduced first. The supporting sentences follow to allow the reader to scan over the points and decide what is relevant to them. Create a flow of information that will convince the viewer to read each page by:

  • Introducing the main point;
  • Incorporating key facts in the body of the text; and
  • Concluding with the least important details.

The writing style you use will not only influence users but will assist search engines to find the content that you have produced when your audience is looking for it.

If you want to cover a complex topic, consider breaking it into a series of posts. This gives the reader time to understand each piece of information separately. Line breaks make content more readable. The white space offers a friendlier environment.

Leave out what readers tend to skip. Go through the copy and look for parts that don’t communicate something meaningful. Make sure every word, every sentence is strong and pulls the reader through the copy.

Try reading your subject line, headline and introductory paragraph out loud. If the first paragraph or two sounds nice, but it’s really the third paragraph that gets to the “meat” of the copy and says anything substantive, get rid of the first two paragraphs (the “warm-up copy”) and start with the meat.

A call to action (CTA) is a short, descriptive instruction which tells a user, who is scanning the web, what to do next.

Write in the active voice, telling the user what is needed rather than using the passive voice which is less instructive. The difference between active and passive voice is that in the active voice the subject does the acting. In the passive voice the subject is acted upon.

Grammatical errors, typos, broken links and pages “under construction” are embarrassing and should be resolved and avoided prior to publishing content.

Forge a personal connection with your audiences by being natural, honest and sincere in your writing. Use similar techniques to what you would to persuade your family and friends.

“You” is the most powerful word in the English language. Readers are interested in information that will meet their needs. Focus your attention on the readers by speaking directly to them. The goal is to inform them within 10 seconds.

You are talking to a person not a vague group or demographic. Personalising your writing immediately shows that you are talking directly to your audience, as a person in front of their monitor looking at your website.

Addressing your audience as “you” will also bring about a more conversational use of language. Think about how DJ’s on the radio converse with their audiences. The modern web is really much more like radio than print.

Asking questions is an effective way to get your point across. Involving your audience in the topic will make them feel important.

It is important to understand the tone that you use to appeal to your audience. Be informative yet friendly and come across as approachable.

Avoid jargon, you may understand it, but your audience isn’t as intimate with your environment as you are.

Quotes lend authority to a story. They should not be lengthy repetitions of the update’s merits. The quote must add value. Decide who you want to quote, why you want to quote them and make sure that the quote adds to your writing.

In summary, the key ingredients to writing for the web are:

  • Understand your audience;
  • Use good unambiguous headlines;
  • Create interesting relevant content;
  • Write simply and clearly;
  • Be personable and keep the tone conversational;
  • Keep what you want to say short;
  • Get to the main point about your subject faster;
  • Update regularly;
  • Use bold words to emphasise and bullet points to list; and
  • Use keywords to tag your content.

By following these simple steps you will attract more readers and keep their attention. It will also help attract internet users who are unaware that your website has the information they are looking for, through search engine optimisation.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, eMarketing, Internet, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Know what you want before embarking on BI projects

Businesses are facing more sophisticated competition in the market every day and the race is on to constantly deliver higher levels of customer service. Delivering better customer service first requires a greater insight into customers’ preferences and behaviours. Social media is a good source of additional behavioural data. This is a sound basis to develop a strategy for retaining those customers who are best suited to the organisation, while “incentivising” those customers not suited to the business, to switch to the competition.

While many organisations do not know where to start gathering information about their customers, others know exactly where this information resides- hidden in the company’s data and call centre stores and locked in sales and marketing databases, on social media sites and in back-end financial systems.

The irony is that while many organisations possess this information, it is often not usable. Companies that attempt to use this information in its ‘tangled’ format soon give up, pleading ‘data-overload’. Business intelligence (BI) gives organisations the ability to unravel the hidden knowledge in this knotted data and deliver actionable insights to the decision makers.

But implementing a strategy is not a simple task of acquiring some software, pointing it at the relevant stores of data and expecting answers to begin rolling out. In order to achieve success with a BI project a company needs to consider its key business goals and the actions that it needs to take to deliver on these objectives efficiently and effectively. BI provides the bridge between the goals and the performance. For example it delivers the insights required to enhance customer relationships through effective interactions with customers in terms of both content and medium, it streamlines the distribution of goods and services through demand forecasting, or it can reduce risk by predicting fraud or identifying consumer attacks on your brand.

With a clear understanding of how BI will underpin the business’ delivery goals over the long-term, an organisation must ensure that the supporting data has a high level of relevance and integrity and that it is intimately understood. This will ensure that it will be effectively and efficiently interrogated so as to deliver meaningful insights that can be actioned across the organisation, with the resultant outcomes being tracked and measured over time.

Best practise dictates that the company’s customer data is centralized into a single, accessible and useable repository and then analyse it. Sales data should be linked to marketing data and combined with all other data related to customer interaction, including data from back-end financial systems so that a customer centric-view of the customer can be created. This in itself is a huge advantage for the organisation, since it will identify the same customer in all his guises across the organisation’s data stores and present a consolidated view of the company’s transactions and interactions with each unique customer. To further enhance this data as a platform for analysis, it should also be enriched with relevant external market data, including key demographic variables and the like.

Having built the necessary data repository and ascertained the required insights from the analysis function to support the strategy of the business, the analysis should commence with five simple objectives in mind: who; what; why; when and where.

The ‘question’ or ‘end-goal’ could be, for example, to identify: who the ideal customers are after incorporating any hidden costs associated with servicing them. Then one can plan on incentivising or engaging with customers with these same characteristics to begin doing business with the company and encourage the non-ideal customers to move to competitors.

A good first step to this process is to analyse the company’s revenue streams and build an ideal client portfolio around each of those revenue streams, taking into consideration the fixed, variable and hidden costs associated with these revenue streams. It is imperative that the entire organisation is involved in this process.

Sales, social media behavioural data, marketing, manufacturing, procurement, delivery and management input is key to the successful implementation of a BI project and ensures that the results gained from a BI initiative are actionable across the organisation.

It is imperative that the company has the appetite to act on findings. It is pointless embarking on a fact finding mission, like that involved in a BI process, if the business is not prepared to respond to those findings by investing in or re-engineering business processes.

When it comes down to it, BI only presents real value to an organisation if the integrity of the underlying data is sound, the data is intimately understood and the organisation is prepared to action the findings. It is only after “actioning” these findings that the organisation will begin maximising the benefit from attracting and retaining ideal customers, reducing costs and ultimately becoming more profitable.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, Google, Internet, Web 2.0

Social Media Optimisation

A few weeks ago, in an article called Man verses the Machine, I wrote about the search algorithm (as used by search engines, for example Google) verses digital curatorship (whereby the people using social media like Facebook drive the information and content delivery, through posting, sharing and liking). Here are some more thoughts on the subject

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critical strategy for driving people to your website, but it is only one aspect of the modern digital strategy. With social media there are more meaningful and effective ways of bringing in audiences. The term for this is social media optimisation (SMO.)

SEO uses algorithms to rank top search results. SMO uses audience behaviour to determine what’s important. SMO differentiates and distinguishes individuals, making sense of their specific content wants and needs. Real people articulating real interests eliminates the algorithm as middleman.

The social network is starting to replace the search engine as the average web user spends more time on Facebook than Google. We need to reengineer our approach driving traffic to our content and building our digital brands. Here are some elements of an effective SMO programme.

Find out and evaluate what the audience wants

SEO is based on pandering to search engines to bring you more audiences, by using key words and metatags. But with social media, the new formula is to grab people’s attention in such a way that they will bring you more audiences.

The first step is winning the attention of the audience and knowing what it wants. The key question is, who are they, what do they want from you and when and how do they want it? Fortunately, this data is abundant. You can find it in your social media sites, analytics system, in customer research, in your competitors’ wins. The trick is to make use of that data and experiment to find these insights.

Knowing what the audience wants means asking and observing them and then delivering value that they want to be associated with. Then track what gets consumed when and by whom.

By asking the audience you also get people immediately engaged in the conversation.

Build your community

The tactics of SMO will change over time, in much the same way that social media will change. Today, Facebook and Twitter are the two significant social media platforms.

An effective SMO strategy is about getting the community started. Set up a marketing drive to bring your fans to your community page. Use Facebook’s advertising platform to help make potential friends aware of you. Use viral networking to get people to invite their friends. Build a base of influencers to a size that approaches critical mass, so that you are fully connected within the social network from the beginning, rather than sitting outside just looking in.

Create content worth spreading

Once you know what your audience wants, and you have a community to appeal to, now comes the part that great marketers are good at. Designing for sharing is much more than just designing for consumption. In some instances the practices that help marketers succeed in SEO are deadly in SMO. If you stuff a page full of keywords, match the URL to the keywords and keep the content readable by algorithms, you will that find a boring website which falls flat on your users and they will not distribute.

Instead, publish content that is worthy of being shared and wrap it in experiences that your users can’t wait to share with their friends — with pride — which is the emotional fuel that powers the “Like” button.

Package to get attention

These days you’re competing for attention in a Facebook feed or Twitter stream.

Facebook and Twitter are networks and so their value is to be found in quantity (the more there is the more value to each user) but for successful marketers it’s about quality. Standing out in the crowd puts the focus not just on what you say, but on how it’s said. What are the iconic images and headlines that appear in a Facebook feed?

Design for virality

Viral distribution is about much more than the content itself — it’s also about an experience that promotes sharing. Your site, your experience, and your Facebook page all need to be designed for virality. Turn content into interactive features with sharing. It starts by making sharing easy:

  • Include the familiar “like” and “share” icons;
  • Place them in obvious places next to the article you want them to share; and
  • Pull social conversations relevant to your content in as a live feed on your website. Let people see what other people are saying on your Facebook page and Twitter and let them participate in the conversations right from your site.

Previously I have written about The Porous Web where your audiences seamlessly osmosises from areas of low value to high value. Doing all of these things provides a tightly integrated social experience.

Engage and reward your audience

Get involved in the conversation to stimulate dialogue, talk alongside your users and ask them what they want. Engage your audience like a community member not a marketing executive.

Validation is all about appealing to people’s emotional desire to look and feel good. Rewards for these people are intrinsic to the sharing itself.

Measure and experiment

On every page measure how many people viewed it and shared it, and how many more people that brings. You can test and vary every element, from the tools that promote sharing, to the content itself. Test rigorously and learn what works for your website, community and your audience.

These are just some of ways that SMO can be effectively deployed. The most important thing right now is recognising that SEO is important but that social media is changing the rules.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

 

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Facebook, Google, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Six principles of social media management

Many of my clients want to create a page on Facebook, because they see it as a free way of exposing their products and services to potential customers. How many times have you been asked by someone you are friends with to “like” some arbitrary page? You do it out of a sense of politeness, in the hope that they are not going to pee with the exuberance of a puppy all over your news feeds.

Many pages start off enthusiastically and the dwindle into the metaphorical attic, never to see daylight again, but at least “we have a Facebook page – check social media box”.

The ability to post on social media is a right, stealing your audience’s valuable time and attention is not.

There are no hard and fast rules, but in my experimentation I have developed six guidelines to effective social media management. The list is by no means finite.

1.         Be the DJ

For those of you who listen to the radio, you do so to be entertained and informed. Consider who you or your company are and entertain your audience in the same way as radio DJ’s do. What would they find interesting? Why should they see what you put out there? Are they really interested in being spammed with product price lists?

If you keep them entertained, they will look forward to seeing your posts in the clutter that is social media. You will be top of mind when they are in the market for your offerings.

2.         Take a strategic approach

Just because it is on Facebook doesn’t mean that your brand is frivolous. It actually means that you are even closer to your (potential) clients. Decide why you want to use social media; is it to position your brand in a certain way, or to enhance your relationships with your clients?

You cannot allocate a junior resource to manage your social media brand. This is particularly true if you have a knowledge brand like universities, ICT’s, media, pharmaceuticals, finance houses, management consultancies etc. You need someone with the experience and strategic insight to represent your brand in real time on line.

3.         Not everyone is going to like you

It is impossible to be all things to all people, but you can improve your relevance to the groups of people who follow you. Experiment with your posts and see who “likes”, “retweets” what.

Your audience consists of real people. Divide them up by demographics or into other groups that make sense and try different things. Some people respond to comedy, others to interesting articles. Look at what other people are doing and who responds to them. This will let you improve the value you provide your audience.

Of course you can’t see the lurkers who just watch what you are going, but then that is the nature of the beast. There will also always be people who don’t appreciate your efforts. If they are not your target audience, it is OK if they go. If, however you find yourself losing friends and followers who you would like to keep, you need to question the quality of your work.

4.         Reciprocate

Comment on what other people are doing, retweet and like what they are saying. People like responses and validation. The magic of social media lies in your ability to have conversations.

5.         Be real

Organisations are not people. The choice of your digital presence depends on who you are. Are you your brand or is it a separate entity, an amalgamation of the people behind the brand?

The people within the organisation should be visible behind the brand if you decide to create a company page.

Organisations can make announcements about events and competitions, but real people should ask questions, joke or comment.

6.         Be present

Decide what the optimum number of posts should be and be prepared to put the time in. Make time to engage with your audience regularly.

Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, but it is not necessarily an easy one. It takes time, effort and strategic insight to reap the rewards. It doesn’t replace your real world marketing, but should seamlessly complement your physical engagement with your customers.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Three reasons not to block Facebook in corporates

It always amazes me, when dealing with large corporations, how many of them have blocked access to Facebook. I understand this when people are doing boring, repetitive jobs, but I am seeing it in organisations who employ knowledge workers for their innovation, creativity and their relationship building skills.

When I ask them why, there are usually two reasons; bandwidth and productivity.

Too much time spent on Facebook by employees is not a sign that Facebook is bad. It is an indicator of the level of engagement of an employee. If he wasn’t on Facebook, he would be on the phone or playing solitaire anyway. The cure for too much time on Facebook is to engage the employee whether it is through motivation, training, counselling, changing the level of complexity of the work. Switching Facebook off only serves to send the bored employee elsewhere.

The secret to increasing productivity and bandwidth use is to take a strategic approach to Facebook. Here are three reasons why leaving Facebook on could be good for your company:

  • Employees become real people to your clients;
  • Employees learn about personal branding and how to use other social media; and
  • Employees can endorse your brand by association.

Being real people

The lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Facebook is enabling everyone to become more approachable and to build accessible personal brands. By capitalising on this, knowledge workers can develop closer more robust relationships with clients. Research shows that when client relationships are rich, clients are likely to be more tolerant if we make mistakes and will allow us to rectify them. Close relationships with clients often leads to advocacy, when clients actively refer us to other clients. They also shorten sales cycles and make sure that we are in the right place at the right time when our clients need our services.

Using social media and building personal brands

Social media is changing the way enterprises work. It is flattening out organisational hierarchies and is fast becoming a way to improve communication, capture knowledge and enable innovation across the business. The quicker employees learn to use social media tools, the more effectively they will adopt and use enterprise 2.0 tools like SharePoint 2010.

Employees who build strong personal brands can cement stronger relationships within the organisation. Enterprises with strong employee relationships experience lower levels of attrition, and will find it easier to attract and keep good people.

Brand endorsement by association

In their private lives, employees are surrounded by people, either digitally or in the real world, that organisations recognise as their target audience. Intelligent and relevant updates on Facebook , keep people top of mind and ensure they are remembered when people are looking for related services.

If our employees have a strong personal brand, the fact that they work for us adds to the organisational brand.

A word of caution

Facebook and employee branding can be an incredibly powerful tool, used properly, but used badly they are very dangerous. Facebook usage must be monitored for abuse or counter branding. This leads to questions of privacy and employees should be aware that if they have access to Facebook at work, we reserve the right to monitor what they are doing.

Conversely

Happy engaged professionals recognise their role in building our enterprises. They don’t only need to be in the marketing department to participate in growing the brand. Employees with strong personal digital brands from all over the organisation, from finance to operations, can contribute by virtue of association.

If you have switched Facebook off in your organisation, you could start switching it on based on the employees’ digital behaviour and personal brands, or as a reward for great performance. Your access levels to Facebook could be used as a status symbol within the enterprise.

The world is changing and enterprises need to change too, especially in the way they engage with employees. Enterprise 2.0 is about people. The focus needs to be on managing people for optimal productivity through committed employee relationships rather than on managing technology. A strategic approach to Facebook is just the beginning.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, HR Intranet, Web 2.0