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iStock_000020861725XSmall.jpgSince we have survived the end of the Mayan calendar and are heading into the New Year, I decided to take a look back at the Jive Talks blog in 2012.  Below is the list of the top 10 posts that generated the largest traffic. Special thanks to all of the contributors for making this an awesome year!

 

10. Make a Splash with Your Rollout Strategy - Carrie Gilbert

During her 5 years with Jive Professional Services, Carrie has helped dozens of customers through the implementation of their communities. She shares great best practices for rollouts.

 

9. It's Time to Define the Social Business Relationship - Deirdre Walsh

Jive's Social Manager shares her 7 Pillars of Social Marketing Success.

 

8. What Microsoft's Acquisition of Yammer Means for #SocBiz - John Rizzo

Jive's CMO shared what this news meant for the industry, users, and Jive.

 

7. Building Buy-In As Social Business Matures - Rachel.Happe

The Community Roundtable shared the "Community Maturity Model," which helps frame how the management approach needs to change as a social business matures.

 

6. Key Factors to Social Business Success - Christopher Morace

Jive's Chief Strategy Officer shared his thoughts on how to win with social business.

 

5. Do Social Technologies Cause Less Email? - Deirdre Walsh

This blog posts sparked one of the biggest debates in the Jive Community in 2012.

 

4. 6 Obstacles of an Internal Community Manager - Melissa Barker

As an Internal Community Manager, it is critical that you listen, understand, acknowledge, and readily address the concerns of your community members. Combat the most common excuses.

 

3. 7 Steps to Empowering Your Natural Advocates - Melissa Barker

Natural thought leaders are perhaps the most powerful force shaping opinion within any community. Learn how to empower them.


2. 3 Tips in Creating Social Structure in Your Business - tara.panu

Don't underestimate the power of of policies, education and training!

 

1. 10 Jobs in 1: The Life of an Internal Community Manager - Deirdre Walsh

FTW! Keep an eye out in 2013 for a follow-up post focusing on other key social business roles.

 

Happy New Year, thanks for reading and let us know if we missed one of your favorite posts.

 

PS. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to one of the Jive community blogs, please contact our community manager Ryan Rutan.

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2013 is the year that social media marketers can finally focus the majority of their efforts on strategy, regardless of budget or team size.  I have held a number of jobs in social marketing, including social media intern, social media specialist, social media strategist, community manager, and social media manager.  If you've worked in similar positions, you are well aware that the majority of your efforts have been spent in the trenches.  You’ve been busy providing front line support, frantically shooting off emails to find out what is new, and recording results in a monster of an Excel spreadsheet.  Social marketers can now rejoice because tools are allowing us to lift our eyes from the ground to the horizon and formulate effective social strategies for the long run.  So take a few seconds to let out a big sigh of relief.  Feel better?  Good.  It is worth noting that simply having these powerful new tools does not automatically make our jobs easier, it requires setting the stage for success.  The following tips will help you pave the way:

 

I'll begin by explaining what tools I use: Spredfast and Jive Software's social intranet.  Spredfast is a social media publishing, monitoring, and analytics tool. 

 

 

Stop Asking, Start Reading

 

In a perfect world, the social team would be the first to know when a press release or product release is in the works.  Unfortunately, informing the social team about product releases, press releases, and other offerings tends to be an afterthought.  This made it impossible to plan a cohesive content strategy.  With a social intranet, social marketers are able to stay in the know about all company news:

  • Follow Decision Makers.  Create a stream for the people that you would traditionally email for updates and follow their activities.
  • Join Planning Groups.  This requires some initial research but is worth the time.  Find and join the groups where planning occurs for the departments that you need to coordinate with, like public relations, product marketing, field marketing, and engineering.  Regularly monitor these social groups and their calendars, as opposed to shooting off emails that fall into the black hole known as the inbox.

 

 

Stop Being Support, Start Being Social

 

In the past, the only option was to email support and wait for an answer to give to customers.  Given the real-time nature of social media and high expectations on the part of consumers, social marketers are left spending hours trying to answer customer questions and stall while waiting for support.  Let's pause for a moment: this is not the fault of customer support, they have procedures to follow and a queue.  Thanks to enterprise social networks, support and social marketer are no longer synonymous.  To prepare for customer questions, I recommend you:

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  • Train Support.  Select a couple customer supporter personnel to train on social best practices, how to use your social publishing tool, and develop a workflow.  At Jive, I work with mathew.ladd on social support.  When a customer posts a question, I notify Mathew in Spredfast and attach an internal note of what I think needs to be done.
  • Create a Project (or Group).  Designate an internal Group or Project as the place to post questions that come from social media.  For the Jive social team, we created a Project in our social intranet called "Social Monitoring and Responses," where Mathew or I post questions that come through social that we are unable to answer ourselves. 
  • Share Internally.  With a social intranet you are able to bring in questions from social media and quickly reach the subject matter expert with a simple @mention.  If Mathew or I do not know the answer, we use Jive Anywhere to bring the question into our social intranet for resolution (as you see in the screenshot to the right)After the appropriate response is determined, I respond from our official Jive accounts on social media.


Stop Guessing, Start Measuring


Today, we are being asked to connect the dots between the dollars spent on social media marketing and hard ROI.  Thanks to software like Spredfast, it is possible to create custom social reports with a few clicks and measure what matters.  Just a few years ago, I remember manually adding up the number of likes, retweets, and followers.  Happily, those days are gone.   When it comes to social media measurement, you will want to:

  • Pick Metrics that Matter.  Numbers can provide insights and clarity, but use them sparingly.  Measuring everything is as useless as measuring nothing.  Focus on the metrics that align with your social goals and demonstrate that you are making progress towards reaching them.  For example, I measure four key quantitative metrics: reach (network and follower network), activity (number of outbound messages), engagement (replies, retweets, CTR), and leads (determined by gated content).
  • Use Traceable Links.  Create custom links with tracking codes to measure your CTR (click through rate).  Having unique links that track clicks to gated content on your website is key to attribute sales leads from social media marketing.
  • Understand Sentiment.  Measuring sentiment about your brand is an important indicator on brand health and is not to be forgotten.

 

There you have my list of stops and starts. How are you using enterprise social networks to set yourself up for success in the new year?

The Wall Street Journal published an article the other day about how workers get distracted (with the pithy title "Why You Won't Finish this Article" – but please finish this one because I've got some words on what to do about it). Their point is that there is a huge cost to businesses from lost focus ➔ lost productivity. With open office layouts, the never-ending barrage of emails, etc., it's true that getting real work done at work can be impossible. But it's not impossible to fix.

 

Productivity-killing interruptions are not new. Research group Basex has been tracking the effects of “information overload” for years. In 2010, distractions cost US corporations $997 billion dollars in lost productivity. This is up 11% in 2 years, from $900 billion in 2008. So what? The odds are that your company is losing out on millions of dollars you could be putting to better use every year.

 

We all like to point the finger at email and phone calls and IMs and meetings. But, the mediums we blame are only part of the problem. These channels are indeed flawed: someone else gets to decide when it’s OK to interrupt your flow. And, we’ve built up social obligations around prompt responses and it feels like we always have to be connected or we’re not doing the job. (Setting aside whether that’s the most important job…) But the other big problem is that these channels have been overloaded, without the tools to efficiently hone and process the flood of inputs.

 

Think just about email for a moment. Email is the lowest common denominator: everyone has it, so it gets used for everything, from critical to ignorable. Email is actually a fine tool for some of those conversations, but it’s entirely the wrong tool:

  • for bigger discussions (has anyone not been on an “unsubscribe me” flurry or reply-alls, or missed half the conversation that got dropped in replies before we got added to the To line?)
  • for driving strategic alignment (where understanding whether and how the message is received is critical)
  • for real collaboration (because emailing around different versions of files in parallel works so well)
  • for accountability and visibility on actions required (you asked someone to get it done, but did he?)

Phone calls, chats, meetings, and even the increasingly ubiquitous activity streams as businesses rush to add social-for-the-sake-of-social all have their place, but when misused they all have similar problems.

 

Businesses who want to lead – both in offering more to and getting more from their people – are taking a stand. Some are even banning email internally on the principle that sometimes you have to take a radical stance to change behavior even a small amount. When people are drowning in the firehose, use extreme measures! But don't don't lock up email and throw away the keys just yet! There is a better way.

 

Give people the right tools for the job. They need to be able to connect and communicate, effectively and efficiently, engaging when it makes most sense for them.

  1. Step 1: give people control over what they have to consume and process. This is where mailing lists and the firehose streams of activity fail: you have to bear the noise to get the critical nuggets. (This is why Jive has made it easy to zero in on just what Matters Most.)
  2. Once you get to the right set of inputs, make information consumption and processing faster, with different work styles in mind. Visual learners struggle with traditional email views but can blaze through their queues with more visually rich displays and inline actions; other people are lightning fast without ever touching their mouse.
  3. Everything isn't equally urgent or important. The sender get to pick the channel and associated urgency – and I bet we all know someone who marks every single email as High Priority – but the recipient gets little say. For the best people (the ones everyone wants to consult), this is the direct path to constant interruptions and lost productivity (and ultimately less satisfaction).
  4. The right context can also make communication dramatically more effective at driving smarter decisions, faster. Great communicators frame the conversation naturally, but it takes time. Everyone in your company should have the benefit of knowing the goal ("what are we trying to achieve here?") and who they’re engaging with, no matter whether they’re working in Outlook, on mobile, in the web... But most tools don't provide a complete picture: customer information is in your CRM, meeting notes are locked away who-knows-where, past conversations with the customer might have been in email, and you might be tracking tasks in another app entirely. Assuming they can even remember all those passwords, people won't – and shouldn't have to – search application after application to gather the data through sheer brute force every time they engage.

 

If you aren't convinced yet that you have a problem, and there is in fact a better way, start doing the math for your business. The impact adds up to real dollars. A recent study by McKinsey found that knowledge workers waste up to 28 hours per week processing emails, connecting with colleagues, and searching for information in the bowels of their company. What would you do if everyone in your company had a whole extra work day every week? Would you innovate more? Cut costs? Deliver faster?...

 

I encourage you to take a look around your office, at the distractions affecting every employee every 3 minutes (per the WSJ). If the tools you’re offering your employees and extended network of customers and partners are contributing to the distractions and hurting productivity and outcomes, seek out a better way. With Jive, or with anything that truly solves the problem instead of adding to it. It doesn’t have to mean banning email and changing the hard wiring on worker behavior: you can augment your existing tools and workflows to make all communication and collaboration more effective, for your entire business. Ultimately the tools are just the means to the end, so don’t let them get in your way.


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Mathew Ladd works at Jive Software in the Account Support Department. A bit about Mathew: "I have my undergraduate degree in communications, specializing in marketing and sales, and have a ton of experience writing content for startup companies around Portland.  I'm a philanthropist through and through, and tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.  You can count on me to be honest, forward, and not afraid to speak my mind.  I gather a lot of inspiration from the world around me, and like to share that positivity through my writing."

 

 

Working in Jive Support has given me a unique opportunity for exposure to common Support issues, and means of resolving them.  Here are some ways of improving your experience as a Jive user, and how to improve Support for your own company as well!


1.  Crowd Sourcing: A lot of ideas tend to fly around Support and how to be more efficient with it.  As a first step to organizing your social support efforts, try crowd sourcing as a means of getting relevant information to communicate to your customer base.  For example, I used our social intranet here at Jive to ask the entire Support team what they feel are the most common cases and frequently asked questions to develop this blog post.  Creating a discussion in Jive, I complied a strong list of items that can be used to reduce wait time on cases.

 

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2.  Check List:  By following this checklist or providing a checklist like this to your customers, you can improve the speed and efficiency of Support interactions. Having more information up front about a scenario will help any team get up to speed more quickly about what a case has been filed for and how to resolve it.  As an example, here is the checklist that I created based on feedback from our Support team about what customers should include in a case submission:

 

Customer Case Checklist:

  • User Names - The full name of the user(s) that experience the issue.
  • User IDs - The user login credentials.
  • Dates & Times - The dates and times that the issue occurred, being as accurate as possible.
  • Screenshots - Images of the error or issue that is being experienced.
  • Explanation of the Error or Issue - Where was the issue encountered? What does the error say (verbatim)? Answer these questions with as much detail as possible.


3.  Communication Avenues: Do your best to train your Support team to engage with customers across different social platforms, realizing that customers will not always know to go to your Support community first. When engaging with customers on the different platforms, have your check list readily available so you can provide them with the information they need to find a resolution. Be prepared to answer questions from multiple platforms preemptively to create a strong Support foundation.  The top social platforms include:

  • Facebook - To work with customers on Facebook, you'll need to coordinate with your social media response team to formulate an answer that matches your company voice.
  • Twitter - There are a couple of ways to handle support questions that come through Twitter. You can create a separate Twitter handle for Support or work with your social media team to fashion a response. Twitter conversations will likely result in a lot of back and forth, so it's a good idea to try and take the conversation offline for resolution as quickly as possible.
  • LinkedIn - The best option with LinkedIn is to respond as yourself as opposed to having a company profile, which is prohibited by LinkedIn.
  • Blogs - For questions or concerns shared on a corporate blog, it is easy to respond directly. However, if the concern is shared on a customer's blog, you'll want to work with your social media team before responding.
  • Jive Community - Use your Jive Community to get answers from coworkers who know the kind of Support situation you're working with.  Formulate a strong response and get your answer out quickly.

 

Regardless of what platform you are providing support though, you'll want to have that checklist readily available to share with your customer.  Your customers will appreciate the organization, and it will make responding easier on yourself at the same time.

 

What do you find most frustrating in your interaction with support?

Earlier this week I explored how to get employees primed to make the switch to a social intranet: building confidence and answering the question "What's in it for me?" Whether you are in the beginning of your journey in adoption or well on your way, external motivation is also critical to sustaining the behavior as new employees join.

 

Continuing my analogy from thelast post, we can think of external motivation as a group dance class. You've learned the basic steps, a few spins and dips. Now, it is time to put those individual skills to use in a group setting. External motivators are not a "one-size fit all" approach. You must utilize a variety of tactics to provide that extra push and motivation.

Here are six ways to provide external motivation:392028_10151170585544716_1325338651_n.jpg


1. Get executives to engage. If I don't keep an eight count when demonstrating the footwork for salsa dancing, how can I expect my students to? Getting executives to lead by example is essential to show commitment. Not all your executives must be active all the time, but a few must. Start with the executives that are already engaging in social outside of work.  I shared six steps to getting executives engaging in social media in a previous post and the same tactics can be applied to get executives to engage on a social intranet.


2. Find ways to feature employees. Public recognition accomplishes two things: (1) encourages the person being acknowledged to continue and (2) gives others something to work towards. Highlight active participants in your community. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as a simple status update (@mention the user), adding an "Ask the Expert" widget to groups or spaces, changing the monthly Featured User on the community homepage, a monthly blog post featuring a top participant, or installing the Jive props app (which is free and allows you to give predetermined "props" to employees), to name just a few. I recommend working with a director in each department to pick his or her top participant for the individual's departmental Space (with larger companies, you'll want to recognize more than one person a month).


3. Create opportunities to compete. In a group setting, an effective teaching mechanism is competition. I might demonstrate a complicated set of moves to see who could accurately emulate them. People like to compete, especially in a work setting. Extrinsic motivators like contests are effective at causing a spike in participation. Heather Burks, on Jive's Professional Team, recommends using contests to "highlight a specific feature of the community or to develop content that can be used to help community members." For details on how and when to use contests, check out her post on improving engagement with contests. If you're looking to incentivize participation or sustain specific behaviors, you may want to consider adding Gamification elements to your community.  Curtis Gross, Senior Technology Marketing Manager at Jive, explains in his post How to Bring Gamificatin to the Enterprise that Gamification can be applied to work and social communities to increase adoption, training, employee connections, and maintaining community engagement.


4. Integrate with existing programs. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel (or an existing dance move!). Integrating with existing recognition programs makes it easy to reward employees without requesting funds and personnel to set up a new acknowledgment system. It is best to start by working with your human resources department to determine what the reward programs are in place and how you can leverage them.


5. Elicit and share success stories. I always ask "Have you had a chance to put this to use? How did it go?" Sharing success stories of people who are equally new to dance is a great way to motivate others. This principle holds true for a work setting. Make a conscious effort to seek out success stories and find creative ways to share them within your community. You might consider doing written Q&As, video interviews, or screen captures that include stats or quotes on how productivity was improved using the social intranet . All of these assets also make great content to feature in a blog or on the community homepage.


6. Encourage effort to be part of performance reviews. Setting goals in dance and assessing progress helps improve performance. This same lesson can be carried over to the workplace, where encouraging managers to set goals for employees around participation, such as weekly internal blog posts on project status, can payoff in productivity gains. In addition, progress in reaching goals should be reviewed to inspire improvement. These goals should be reasonable and purposeful; otherwise, you can end up with an employee posting blogs about trivia or finding herself simply too overwhelmed to perform well. As with dance, establishing goals that are achievable, desirable, and measurable will result in an optimal outcome for your dancing and social endeavors.


What external motivators do you utilize to energize your community?

If you have worked with our professional services team, you know that the first thing they will tell you about employee adoption of a social intranet is that you should "rely on intrinsic motivators by helping people understand the benefits their involvement gives & gets." However, external motivators are not to be overlooked. Changing behavior in the workplace can seem like an insurmountable challenge as a community manager, trainer, or even executive. I find that the best way to explain the process for overcoming this challenge is through a comparison. Since I've never trained a pet, I'll avoid the potentially unflattering comparison of employees to dogs. I'll go with something that is more familiar to me: teaching someone to salsa dance.

 

Once you experienced a successful social intranet, it is hard to understand how others do not see inherent value. As someone who has been salsa dancing for years, I sometimes find it difficult to empathize with the plight of someone with two left feet. Before I dive into teaching people to salsa, I want them to be confident in their ability to learn and understand the value of being able to move confidently on a dance floor. While some employees may be confident in their use of social, not everyone has the confidence and understanding of how it will benefit them.

 

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Building confidence of someone new to social or salsa requires simplification and comparison. Attempting to teach an entire salsa routine to a person with no experience would be a disaster (--there is too much to remember). Similarly, you wouldn't teach someone how to use every feature of the social intranet out of the gate. Simplification is necessary to build confidence. Have employees start by completing their profiles, following people they know, and starting discussions.  Don't expect them to have their streams perfectly configured and using applications the first day.

 

When teaching the basic steps for salsa dancing, I start by telling the student to take two steps forward and two steps back, instead of teaching an eight count. Providing points of reference makes it feel much more accessible. You could compare the @mention feature to the CC option in email, explaining how if you really want to ensure an individual sees a conversation, simply @mention and it will appear in their Inbox.

 

"What's in it for me?"

 

Answering the question of "What's in it for me?" will make or break your ability to convince people of the value. With salsa dancing, once I see a person is confident enough in the basic step, it is time to introduce the eight count for the footwork and explain the advantages. Going back to the example of @mention and CC, after you've made the comparison it is essential to explain the payoff of the switch. In this instance, you'll want to explain the benefits of creating a discussion as opposed to shooting off an email. Sharing a question in the community versus email has a number of benefits, such as the ability to (1) crowd-source (2) reach experts (3) share the correct answer, and (4) save time for people searching for the same answer.

 

Second, provide meaning and context. This dances between being an intrinsic or extrinsic motivator (pun intended). Once they learn the basic step, spins, and a few dips, I explain how they will feel comfortable going to salsa clubs and potentially competing at a local level. What does this look like in context of a social intranet? Illustrate how it can help them in their day-to-day work and performance reviews.For the latter to be true, managers will need to make participation part of their employees' performance review.

 

Additionally, remember that a little pat on the back goes a long way. Learning the basic step in salsa is much easier than dips. If the people I'm working with have really got the footwork down - this is important for me to acknowledge. Although employees may not be active in groups outside of their department, they may be consistently answering questions in a particular group. You can highlight their effort in that particular group by making them a Featured User. Long term, you will want to focus on more systematic and serious recognition efforts.

 

Let's say you've prepared a blog post or document that builds the confidence of new users and answers the question of "What's in it for me?" Communicating this document is the next step. It is best to use existing communication methods to direct people to your post in the community. As an example, you could create this document in the community and send a company-wide email with a link to the document for more information. Using the existing communication method ensures your message reaches your desired audience and subtly reinforces behavior that you want to encourage (i.e., people looking to the community for information).

 

Building the confidence and answering the question of "What's in it for me?" for your employees is critical to giving them internal motivation and increasing the adoption of your social intranet.

 

In my next blog post, I'll discuss other external motivation tactics, but before I write it, I would love to hear from you. What tactics have you found effective in getting people to engage?

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mathew.ladd works at Jive Software in the Account Support Department. A bit about Mathew: "I have my undergraduate degree in communications, specializing in marketing and sales, and have a ton of experience writing content for startup companies around Portland.  I'm a philanthropist through and through, and tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.  You can count on me to be honest, forward, and not afraid to speak my mind.  I gather a lot of inspiration from the world around me, and like to share that positivity through my writing."

 

 

A little over a week ago I introduced the idea of combining Social and Support to engaging clients online in Riding the Social Support Wave: Social Support Part 1.  This week I want to focus on what that Support team is, and how to create a smooth flow of information through those members.  I did briefly cover the basics of the how to do this, but want to make sure and address the team dynamic aspect, and setting up standard responses that will save everyone precious man-hours and effort.  So, let's dig right in!

 

Develop clear structure for your team dynamic.  Let's do a little recapping here first.  Initially, you should set up your response team in charge of getting back to those social questions.  There are several directions that might suite you best, but two that I want to touch on are wonderful for getting your support team going. Option 1: Centralize to just one to three responders who function as the company voice on social.  Organize these creative responders, and have them writing original content for getting back to inquirers.  Consider them the gatekeepers of your social world.  This helps keep a consistent voice in all support responses and allows for a few people to hold the good flow of communications internally and externally.

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Option 2: Use your whole team, your entire staff as responders.  Have a couple of people help guide staff with their responses as the filter. This allows for direct customers to employees who know the most about that topic. A full communication tree of amazing responders who handle the inquiries directly is the ultimate goal here. Have a solid plan for not letting any communications slip through the cracks.

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Work to be polite and efficient.  My first few rules include being thankful, thoughtful, and show your clients you appreciate them.  You should also develop and maintain standard responses to questions that come up frequently. You will want to have thoughtful wording for quick and easy responding no matter what platform you are providing support through. It is important to have short and long responses to the same question due to the character limits of certain platforms (e.g., Twitter, which only allows 140 characters).  For those inevitably tough questions you don't know the answer to, let your customer know: (1) you are actively working on it, (2) you'll get back to them soon, and (3) that you appreciate their patience.  Keep building to your scenario lists as more and unique circumstances arrise.  Keep good record of how the situation was resolved, bring the support issue to a close quickly.


Don't limit any program you set up.  Keep trying new things, growing your capabilities, and learning what's the most effective through trial and error.  Realize it is not always going to be perfect and avoid getting discouraged early on when learning from mistakes. Curious how other companies are doing this? Watch this webcast on how T-Mobile has provided social support.

 

How is your support team structured for handling customer questions through social?

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