Why an “e2i” blog would be a good idea for Nokia

In a comment to my status update on Facebook,

"http://ping.fm/73D1E Should I wait (forever) until "Updating Nokia device view" in Ovi Suite ends, before I can sync the photos from my N97?"

…one friendly ex-colleage wrote:

"you should get an internal blog"

…immediately followed by:

"ahh you are not in Nokia anymore…"

It's funny you should mention that, my friend :-)

As it happens, I was the first person in Nokia's global corporate communications team to start an internal blog, back in January, 2005. I called my blog 'theCapture', to reflect the immediacy of blogging; that it enables us to capture our (hereto mostly tacit) thoughts and ideas, and to make them explicit in order to grow our shared knowledge together.

You know, standing on the shoulders of giants and all that.

cap-ture (…) -n. 4. the act of capturing. 5. the thing or person captured.
(source: Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language)

I had fallen in love with the cluetrain and developed a strong belief that blogging (outside AND inside the company) would inevitably help 'Fortress BigCo' to actually start conversing with its customers AND itself (i.e. its employees), rather than continuing on the cul-de-sac of broadcasting sanitized packages of strategically aligned "messaging".

NRC's Bob Iannucci said it well in December of 2005, when he contemplated the main drivers for internal blogging:

  1. Flattening the organization
  2. Speeding up communication and decision making processes
  3. Reinforcing ideas

I considered it a test bed for the way we would develop the Nokia News Service – the main news channel on the intranet at the time – into more of a social medium. We re-branded and relaunched the service as the 'News Hub' in November 2006.

Judging by the jury of the CiB Awards 2007, we did a reasonably nice job.

(The concept caught on; suddenly we had a VideoHub, a BlogHub, a Hubcast…)

But I digress; back to your suggestion, [NAME OMITTED].

You know what? It would actually make sense for Nokia to "syndicate-in" a blog produced by an external.

By the end of this month it will be a year ago since I left the company. During this year I have learned how being a "real" user – having to compare the devices, the operator plans, the software and  services, and having to fix bugs as well as features – is very different from being a Nokia employee with full technical support and money being no object (to using the best fit-for-purpose tools). Now, on a daily basis, I run into challenges relating to my Nokia brand experience that I didn't use to encounter while on the inside.

Take for example my current issue regarding the N97's synchronization to the Nokia Ovi Suite and Nokia Photos. At HQ in Keilalahti, tech support would have fixed this for me – or actually, the problem likely wouldn't have occurred in the first place.

So, why would an "external2internal" blog be a good idea for Nokia?

The benefits of an "e2i" blogger are a combination of increased diversity, balance, and reality check.

The internal culture reinforces a positive bias towards the company and
the brand.

Don't get me wrong: Nokia is an admirable company and I'm
a fan! I care! Otherwise I would be wasting my breath. Did you
notice that I'm hanging on to – and publicly defending – the Nokia N97
in spite of all the (social) iPhone pressure? :-)

And it is exactly because I care that I also point out
concerns such as the ones expressed by Robert Scoble. Tell me whose job it is
inside the company to bring this kind of stuff to people's attention. And yet, I think it's relevant to everyone in Nokia. An "e2i" blogger would add value here.

The external world is tougher and more real. IMHO and FWIW, it would be
of value to Nokia people – be they in comms, marketing, design or
R&D – to read how people in the real world experience their brand.
After all, who owns the brand, anyway?

The external view is different. The daily challenges to someone on the outside are different. With diversity you generate more, and often more creative, ideas.

(See also Hugh MacLeod's diagram explaining why corporate blogging works.)

Now, I might be inclined… But first we would really need to talk about that small dilemma of "sponsored conversations" :-)

Have blogs become an essential business tool?

[UPDATE, April 24, 2009: Here is part of the answer: Fortune 500 blog more than expected.]

The abstract of Jeffrey Hill's MBA dissertation from November 2005 reads:

"(…) Although weblogs are being promoted as a potentially valuable business tool in the trade press and mass-market business literature, informal surveys suggest that only a small number of companies are actually using weblogs.

Reliable academic studies about the use of weblogs in business have yet to appear. This study aims to contribute to filling this research gap by investigating the attitudes and experiences of small business bloggers using weblogs as a marketing and communications tool. Qualitative interviews were carried out with fifteen small business bloggers representing a wide range of business activities.

The results indicate that weblogs are being used for many different purposes and that the bloggers believe them to be an effective marketing tool. However, this perception is based more on the bloggers' trust in the benefits of the medium than on any measurable ROI (return on investment).

Moreover, there is little evidence that dialogue is taking place with customers, although the literature tends to advance this dialogue as one of the main advantages of using weblogs. More research needs to be done to determine who is reading company weblogs and what their effect on consumer behaviour is. (…)"

I wonder if anything has changed since? The ROI debate is still very problematic. Then again, if we view blogging merely as taking part in conversation, do we ever measure the ROI on talking with people in the corridor, on the street or in the shopping mall?

What do you think? Have blogs become an essential business tool?

‘Transform Your Conversation!’ – Enter Cluetail

[While
Cluetail's website is in the making, I'm posting this description of
our company on my blog - because I want to start reaching out :-)

UPDATE, March 31, 2009: I've put up a brief description of Cluetail in English, Finnish and Dutch, at http://www.cluetail.com (or, until the DNS records are updated, at: http://sites.google.com/a/cluetail.com/transform/)- note that http://cluetail.com does not yet redirect here.]

Cluetail Ltd. is an integrated communications services company which deeply appreciates the value of human conversation.

All
transactions – either privately, in business, or in the public domain
and the media – are a function of relationships, built on conversation
between people.

We exist to create value to our customers by enhancing the quality of their conversations, connections and relationships.

The Challenge

"Choice"
is sometimes referred to as the epidemic of the 21st century. During
the foreseeable future, information, choice and competition for
attention will keep growing at an increasing rate.

Without
access to the most relevant information and the right people, no
meaningful transactions can be done and business will suffer.

Our Vision

However,
Cluetail shares a more optimistic vision of the world: one in which
people engage conveniently, instantly and continuously in the
conversations most relevant to them, and connect to the people who
matter most.

Seasoned in journalism, organizational
communications, and participatory intra- and Internet applications, we
at Cluetail build processes and tools which maximize the reach, impact,
visibility and measurability of your communications efforts.

How We Do It

While harnessing enabling technologies in the realm of participatory
media and social software, our objective is to make these
technologies as unobtrusive as possible.

First we help you save money by making your communications practices more efficiently aligned with your strategic objectives.

Then we help you make money
by more effectively engaging your employees, customers, partners,
investors, media, interest groups and the general public in
conversations relevant to you and your brand.

Our Services

Our
consultancy services include current- and desired-state analyses and
road-mapping, process and tool development and implementation.

Our
operational support services include technical process and tool
support, content and channel management, content creation, media
monitoring and business intelligence, training, team building, coaching
and mediation.

Coming up…

Through our ASP (Application Service Provider) services we plan
offer content life-cycle management systems, online conversation
analysis and recommendation systems.

The latter will enable our
customer companies to make tacit communications structures visible; to
extract business intelligence and trend analysis from online
conversations; and to help their people identify the most relevant
conversations and build meaningful relationships with the people
involved.

By detecting tacit structures and weak signals early,
customer companies can faster anticipate a changing business
environment, thus gaining competitive advantage over their peers.

Talk Is Cheap

Drop us a line or give us a call: let's have a conversation about your conversation.

  Jos Schuurmans

  CEO & Sales, Cluetail Ltd. (y: 1747348-8)
  Patteristonkatu 2, 50100 Mikkeli, Finland

  +358 50 59 33 006
  <jos.schuurmans@cluetail.com>
  http://cluetail.josschuurmans.com
  http://josschuurmans.com/contact

P.S.: The name Cluetail is an hommage to the Cluetrain Manifesto and the Long Tail, two concepts which, IMHO, are particularly insightful when we try to understand the Internet and where it will take us.

How is this for a seminar on “social media”?

Oie_ProCom_logo

[UPDATE, January 21, 2009: We're fully booked now. An abbreviated version of my talk will be available at SlideShare.net: http://ping.fm/Hlqe7]

[UPDATE, January 15, 2009: Details of the seminar as available from the ProCom site. I believe there are still a few seats left...]

I am preparing a one-day seminar on "social media" for Communications and Public Relations professionals, on behalf of ProCom, the Finnish Association of Professional Communicators, to be held in Helsinki, January 22, 2009.
My draft program is something like this:

  1. Getting started (1): Who are we and what are we trying to achieve today?
  2. Scoping "social media": What do we mean by "social media" and which are the relevant issues for Communications and Public Relations?
  3. Strategy, ROI and measurement: When and how (much) should we get involved in social media?
  4. Case 1: example of a "traditional" company/organization venturing into social media: strategic choices, best practices.
  5. Case 2: virtual worlds as an example of a public social media platform: opportunities and considerations.
  6. Getting started (2): Practicalities of engaging in social media, one step at the time.
  7. Wrap-up, conclusions, and closing.

Any thoughts? Does this look like a comprehensive set-up? What are we missing? Who would be great speakers on these topics?

Also, what would be a good way to support this seminar online? I'm considering to do something on Ning.com

Now there are 4 ways to access and contribute to the CommsPR Calendar

Oie_ProCom_logo

(If you’re new here, you may want to read this introduction first) :-)

So, now there are 4 ways you can access and contribute to the international conference calendar for communications and public relations professionals:

  1. Submit bookmarks relevant to the CommsPR Calendar on Delicious with the tags “commspr” and “calendar”, i.e.: http://delicious.com/tag/commspr+calendar.
  2. Read and edit the CommsPR Calendar wiki page at http://josschuurmans.wikispaces.com/CommsPR-Calendar.
  3. Read the condensed version of the CommsPR Calendar and submit your comments at http://www.josschuurmans.com/procom-commspr-calendar.html.
  4. Send your comments, questions and suggestions by email to <commspr.calendar(at)gmail.com>.

Building an International Communications and PR Calendar

Oie_ProCom_logo

If you are a Communications and/or Public Relations professional, you may want to read this post.

I am currently collecting information about high-profile international Communications and Public Relations conferences, for ProCom, the Finnish Association of Professional Communicators, with the intent to make it available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

[UPDATE, October 3, 2008: the ProCom CommsPR Calendar is now available.]

For each event, I'd like to collect info such as: name, place, date, cost, target group, theme(s), program, size, age, organizer, reputation/recommendation, hotel and travel info. It should result in a tool which can help communications and public relations people decide which international conferences would be interesting for them to attend.

During my initial research I noticed that there's a lot of information
around, and that we're gonna have to eat this elephant in small chunks.
So I designed a layered filtering process. The layers go from most open
and collaborative towards more filtered and edited, as follows:

Layer 1: Bookmarking all potentially relevant international
communications and public relations conference directories,
conferences, and their organizers on Delicious with the tags "commspr"
and "calendar" for easy capturing and easy retrieval. I am doing this
at http://delicious.com/ josschuurmans/commspr+calendar. If you have a Delicious account, you can help by using the same tags! Our collected bookmarks can then be found at http://delicious.com/tag/commspr+calendar.

Layer 2: Narrowing down the selection and adding information on a wiki page at: http://josschuurmans.wikispaces.com/CommsPR-Calendar. You can contribute by adding or editing information right on this wiki page.

Layer 3: A condensed version, an updated and edited shortlist on my blog at http://www.josschuurmans.com/procom-commspr-calendar.html.

What I'd love to read from you is any or all of the following:

  1. Any additional conferences you think would add value to this list.
  2. Additional details to any of the events mentioned (or not mentioned).
  3. Which was the best conference you ever attended and why.
  4. Which event(s) you would feel comfortable recommending to your peers and why.
  5. Whether or not you'd like your name to be mentioned with the info you contribute.
  6. Should you know that this information already exists somewhere, then let's cut down on duplication :-)

Suggestions? Questions? Leave a comment below, or dive right in by reading and/or editing the wiki page, or send me an email via:
<commspr.calendar (at) gmail.com>

In summary, the Procom CommsPR Calendar exists as:

  1. CommsPR Calendar bookmarks on Delicious;
  2. CommsPR Calendar wiki page;
  3. ProCom CommsPR Calendar.

‘Channels’ does not sufficiently describe the dynamics of distributed online conversations

Interesting conversation about "channels" developing here with Bill French.

Totallly agree that people create channels in efforts to create order from chaos. The way I used "channels" in my post on ‘The End of Channels?‘ was with the traditional notion of, if you will, media titles, in mind: TV/radio channels or shows, zines, newspapers, websites, blogs, forums…

I suppose what they have in common is that they all have a name, an address, and usually a more or less defined scope. They are often furnished with editorial policies and they may be designed to further particular political or commercial interests. Also, most often they have a brand identity.

But if we look passed the keeper of the gate and over the garden wall, I am willing to accept that channels – as in "meta-handlers" – are not necessarily disappearing, but rather evolving into new forms, such as distributed conversations connected by tags.

The point I am trying to make is that old-style channels are designed to contain conversations within them. Sure, they are helpful as meta-handlers in creating order. And, agreed, the new meta-handlers are facilitated by social media, e.g. through tags. However, I hesitate to go as far as to call those tag-connected (micro-content contributions to) conversations, ehm, "channels".

In Dutch, we use the same word for channel and canal: "kanaal". So it won’t surprise you that I quite strongly associate the word channel with a human-made, one-directional, controlled flow.

Bill writes:

"(…) People tend to prefer the benefits that channels provide – they create the notion of a "meta-handle" that makes it easier for them to understand, know about, and share. (…)"

Well, I won’t deny that people find channels convenient. Still, to me, even "virtual channel" or "conversation channel" doesn’t quite sufficiently express the dynamic nature of distributed online conversations. These conversations do not have ONE name, ONE address or even a defined scope.

Tags are useful in searching and navigating these conversations, – in particular because they add social filtering to the mix – and "tag cloud" is a metaphor that helps people venture into the Web 2.0 era.

And yet, even tag clouds cannot contain or accurately scope conversations. The Web, and in particular the social media web, makes our culture and economy more "probabilistic", as Chris Anderson puts it in The Long Tail.

So, why not liberate the conversations from their channels and simply call them "conversations"?

(See also: ‘www.josschuurmans.com: ‘The concept of "conversation" as in the Long Tail of Conversations‘)

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Dugg: Social Media Will Change Your Business | BusinessWeek

BusinessWeek’s Stephen Baker and Heather Green have updated their article ‘Blogs Will Change Your Business‘ from May, 2005, (which I dissected here) to include observations of social media over the past three years.

It’s a nine-pager, so I’ll read it on my commute one of these days before drawing any conclusions. However, I already know that one of my posts that I will compare this against, is: ‘The End of Channels?‘, which has this summary:

The three aspects of social media that I’d like to view as qualitative departures from the past are: (1) ‘The Dilution of Channels’ in that online conversations happen all over the place; (2) ‘The Wisdom of the Crowd’, social software helping people navigate their way through online conversations; and (3) the participatory and co-creational nature of social media.

read more | digg story

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The End of Channels?

Summary: The two aspects of social media that I’d like to view as qualitative departures from the past are: (1) ‘The Dilution of Channels’ in that online conversations happen all over the place; and (2) ‘The Wisdom of the Crowd’, social
software helping people navigate their way through online
conversations.

[ADDITION, October 26, 2007: I've added one more charasteristic to the social media mix: (3) 'Participation'. See also the addition towards the end of this post]

My local professional communicators’ association wishes to pick my brain on "social media". So it’s about time I captured the concept in writing.

The media have, of course, always been "social". Any form of human communication (where there are messages sent by senders and processed by receivers) is social. The Internet is a disruptive technology that accelerates certain properties of everything social, in particular human communication, including what we call "the media". In other words, to some extent "social media" is a pleonasm.

Also the Internet has always been a social space.

For homework I Googled the term. The Wikipedia entry, Robert Scoble‘s entry, and some other references I found seem to position "social media" mainly as something that has more "capacity" than "traditional media": online means faster and more immediate, easier to interact with, easy to copy and share, unlimited space…

Quantitative or qualitative?

Are we really talking about quantitative differences only? Or should we make some qualitative distinctions as well?

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The concept of “conversation” as in the Long Tail of Conversations

I’m preparing to have a conversation (okay, a presentation) at the MindTrek 2007 Conference in Tampere, Finland, early October. My topic is to do with the Long Tail of Conversations, and how we might connect people to the conversations across the Long Tail distribution graph that matter most to them.

(I was kinda getting there in one of my previous posts: ‘Look at the Long Tail for the highest-value conversations‘.)

When I submitted my draft conversation (ok, yes, presentation), one of the organizers asked me to elaborate on my understanding of the concept of "conversation". That was really good feedback, because it caused me to realize that I was using the term in different ways for different purposes, and it forced me to think about defining them better.

So here we go, sketchy at best:

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