Sunday, 15 February 2009

To blog or not to blog? that is the question

I have been thinking about my next blog post for some time. And thinking about it has in a way prevented me in writing it - a contradiction in real terms, I know, but still absolutely true. It is not that I don't want to write my blog, it has more been like a real creative block rather than a fear of the blank html page.

So I thought why not blog about this. In effect I think this is the problem many businesses face - to blog or not to blog? - and what to blog about.

Blogging is no longer a new communications tool, it has been around for a long time. It is very often coined with the term; Web 2.0, which was a term first used by the ever inspiring Tim O'Reilly (@timoreilley) back in 2004 - though the first web logs or blogs started much earlier, back in the 90's. However many businesses and organisations are still trying to find their way with Web 2.0 and blogging in particular.

So why is it proving such a challenge when blogs now clearly are mainsteam?

I think some of the main obstructions in getting a blog off the ground is a fear of the unknown resource implications and not creating a publishing plan from the outset. If you plan a set of blog topics, it will appear much easier to simply get on with writing and then take part in the conversation. This is however often easier on an individual basis than through a corporate organisation or business blog.

Very often the sign-off chain of command before the blog can be published result in bottlenecks, delays and lost opportunities. And the major perceived resource investment in keeping a blog current can more often than not put actual breaks on any progress and hold back the adoption of a corporate blog. It takes time to write a blog, answer any comments and keep it current and up-to-date.

This brings us on to the advantage of micro-blogging; it is faster than a full blog post - quick to write, quick to respond, quick to engage and it is not necessary to have a formalised sign-off for publishing. It is obviously still important to decide a policy for micro blogging to ensure professional conduct at all times.

From my own perspective, I couldn't quite understand at first, why I haven't blogged more frequently. I have found it so much easier to be active in terms of micro-blogging particularly on Twitter where I tweet many times daily (- please feel free to follow me - @Hannechr. In the beginning I thought it would be really daunting and difficult to write anything in 140 characters - now it seems second nature.

And this does seem to be a common trend which is catching on in businesses and organisations; micro-blogging is more straight forward and fast to contend with. It still takes time to make real progress and enter into the conversation, but it seems to happen much faster with social media sites such as Twitter than building up an audience for a blog. So, perhaps this is the reason why I haven't blogged. I have been so content with micro-blogging that my blog seemed too be too much effort.

So I have decided instead of feeling that I have to write to this blog all the time, I will write here when I feel, I need to expand and provide more detail on the conversations I am having on Twitter and elsewhere.

So if you don't see a new post on here follow me on Twitter - @Hannechr and let's have a conversation there.

What is your experience; are you opting not to blog because of time or resource constraints? - or are you blogging because this is still hugely valuable to your business? Or have you chosen to combine your blog with micro-blogging?

If you read this, please Tweet this to your followers (just copy and paste the following into your Twitter bar): To blog or not to blog? that is the question: (@Hannechr)

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The power of social media and getting it

One of the questions I am constantly being asked is why should we even bother with social media? Surely this is just a waste of time and something employees should be doing in their spare time?

If you read this, please Tweet this to your followers (just copy and paste the following into your Twitter bar): The power of social media and getting it : (@Hannechr)

Obviously if there was a straight forward answer to this it wouldn't be such a hot topic and something that crops up all the time. Well, there are two parts to this question and the easiest way to respond to why bother with social media - is the conversation is happening and any company or organisation or individual should take an interest in what is being said not only about them but also what people are interested in is important. If you are not how can you potentially influence the conversation and peoples opinion of you?

It is really not much different to keeping up with daily news, politics or what is generally happening around us. This really is just part and parcel of being an employee or a potential new employee. Then being part of the conversation is the next step and takes much longer and is more difficult to achieve. As many have said before me - and continue to say - you need to practice listening before being able to engage in a meaningful way. Be good at this first and then start by commenting on others peoples posts. Be part of the community and start networking - it is what you also do when you meet people face-to-face - say hallo and find a common point of interest.

So why is social media so powerful? A good example of the potential of social media and networking sites such as Twitter was recently clearly demonstrated through the @wossy (Jonathan Ross) and @stephenfry (Stephen Fry) conversation about Twitter on the first "Friday night with Jonathan Ross" show on BBC since @wossy was put on the "naughty step". I monitored Twitter while the show was broadcast and it was truely fascinating to see how the conversation was following exactly what was broadcast (despite this not being a live show).

Hitwise subsequently brought out some clever statistics that demonstrated the impact of the Ross conversation had on the live Twitter conversation:

As a result of this Stephen Fry is now number 4 in the World of Twitterholics and the impact of this conversation has proven greater than Obama inaugeration. BBC even reported that the Ross return managed to draw in more then 5 million viewers - now that is quite a figure.

Furthermore Stephen Fry increased his Twitter following from 50,000 to more than 80,000 in a mere week - a clear demonstration of the power of social media in my view.

This also shows that it is important to have a strategy to deal with social media - in the same way that most companies have a policy and strategy on how staff should use email or the internet. Any employer need to recognise that the web and how we now communicate has fundamentally changed - and part of this is how social media has changed the landscape substantially and will continue to do.

Companies need to make it possible for their staff to at the very least to monitor and respond (if this is appropriate - this is where the strategy comes in) to what is said in the social sphere. Social media users will very quickly cotton on to the fact if companies are in fact avoiding to engage. Finding the right strategy and how this should be formulated obviously depends on the business you are in and needs a lot of consideration.

What do you think? Does your company or organisation get the importance and power of using social media as a strategic option?

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Social media evolution of new media?

The term social media is widely used today as a standard term, but has is replaced new media as a term or is simply an evolution of the same thing?
  • New media (in contrast to old media such as print, tv, analog radio etc): digital communications and new technology, electronic publishing and online communities and collaboration.
  • Social media: online social communications and interaction / networking, socialisation of information - a shift in how you and I locate information / news, share it and communicate our opinions.
One could argue that these terms are very similar both in essence and how it is perceived in the ever ongoing debate around the web. For me personally social media is the evolution of new media and as a result one doesn't exclude the other. It is equally important to engage in social media as it is actively seeking out information on traditional websites.

I would like to hear your views.