Seminar on Social Media Adoption in the Enterprise [en]

[fr] Dernier jour pour s'inscrire au séminaire sur les stratégies d'adoption des nouveaux médias dans l'entreprise organisé par mon amie (et néanmoins experte de renommée internationale) Suw Charman-Anderson. C'est à Londres, ce vendredi.

My friend [Suw Charman-Anderson]( is organising a seminar this Friday in London on the
adoption of social tools in the enterprise: [Making Social Tools Ubiquitous]( There are still some
places left. The sign-up deadline is tomorrow — act fast.

You’ll find a description of this seminar below. This is a chance to
learn about social tools in the enterprise directly from a world-class
expert who has practical experience introducing social tools in
various businesses. Want a peek? here are [notes I took from her talk
last year]( at the Future of Web Apps conference.

> **Overview**
> You may have heard that social tools – such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and social networking – can help you improve business communications, increase collaboration and nurture innovation. And with open source tools, you can pilot projects easily and cheaply. But what do you do if people won’t use them? And how do you grow from a pilot to company-wide use?

> Social media expert Suw Charman-Anderson will take a practical look at the adoption of social tools within your business. During the day you will create a scalable and practical social media adoption strategy and discuss your own specific issues with the group. By the end of the seminar you will have a clear set of next steps to take apply to your own collaborative tools project.

> **The setting**
> Fruitful Seminars take place in an intimate setting, with no more than 9 people attending, so you to get the very most out of the day. The are held at the luxurious One Alfred Place, and include tea & coffee, and lunch from the restaurant.

> **Who should come?**

>* CXO executives
* managers
* team leaders
* decision makers
* social media practitioners
* social media vendors

> Or anyone in situations similar to these:

> * You have already installed some social tools for internal communications and collaboration, but aren’t getting the take-up you had hoped for.
* You have successfully completed a pilot and want to roll-out to the rest of the company.
* You want to start using social tools and need a strategy for fostering adoption.
* You sell social software or services and want to understand how your clients can foster adoption of your tool.

For more information, check out these recent posts Suw wrote:

– [Fruitful Seminars: Making Social Tools Ubiquitous](
– [Q: What does promoting an event have in common with the adoption of social tools in the enterprise?](
– [Why isn’t social software spreading like wildfire through business?](

The second Fruitful Seminar, [held by Lloyd Davis](, will take place on July 16th: [Mastering Social Media](

Not for you? tell your friends about it. Not this time, but want to keep an eye on what Suw, Leisa and Lloyd are doing with Fruitful Seminars? [sign up for their newsletter]( Otherwise… time to [sign up](!

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Adapting to Budget: "on peut tout faire avec tout" [en]

[fr] "On peut tout faire avec tout", me dit une copine designer avec qui je parle d'un mandat pour ma conférence, Going Solo. Ce qu'elle veut dire, c'est qu'il y a généralement moyen de s'adapter au budget du client.

C'est vrai pour moi aussi -- du moins dans certaines choses que je fais, comme apprendre aux gens à bloguer. On peut mettre en place un blog pour une entreprise pour 2'000CHF, mais aussi pour 50'000. Dans les deux cas le client aura un blog, mais les choses seront tout de même assez différentes:

  • Dans le premier cas, le client sera livré à lui-même pour découvrir la culture de la blogosphère et la stratégie de communication qui lui est propre. Je lui en aurai parlé, bien entendu, mais cela restera inévitablement abstrait. Il va devoir apprendre en public, perdre la face peut-être. Il fera des erreurs. Si tout va bien, il s'en sortira, à long terme. Au bout d'un an, de deux ans, il finira par réellement comprendre ce que ce nouveau média a à offrir -- s'il n'a pas abandonné, découragé.
  • Dans l'autre cas, le client sera accompagné, suivi de près, conseillé, coaché pendant six mois. Il apprendra "juste". Il fera moins d'erreurs grossières. On ménagera sa susceptibilité en ne l'obligeant pas à apprendre sans filet sous les yeux du public. Il y aura des crises également, c'est sûr -- mais il ne sera pas seul pour y faire face.

Il n'y a pas une méthode plus juste que l'autre, c'est ce que je suis en train de comprendre. Ça dépend du client. Est-il prêt à être livré à lui-même, quitte à échouer misérablement ou à se décourager? A quel point tient-il à apprendre à maîtriser ce média? Son budget est-il limité? Je m'adapte.

Last week, I recontacted a girl I used to do judo with, who is now a designer (not a “graphic designer” per se — an object designer). We talked about her work and what she did, and ended up trying to see if there was anything we could do together for Going Solo.

I met her to discuss this — it was a very strange experience for me to be “the client” and to feel totally lost about what she was going to do for me. And also, to be wondering how much this kind of thing would cost me. I had more than a few thoughts for my clients, who sometimes turn green when I tell them the price tag for what we’ve discussed.

What I’d like to talk about here is something she said: “on peut tout faire avec tout”, meaning “you can get anything for anything”. Not very clear out of context, I’ll admit. We were talking about budget. Basically, what she meant is **”tell me how much you have for this, and I’ll figure out a way to give you something for that price”**.

As the client in this story, I personally found that much more comfortable than to have to wait for her to come up with a quote (which would probably make my heart sink) and then get into painful discussions to see how we could reduce the cost.

My needs here aren’t very specific. I want a logo, a “look”, banners, some printed material, etc. And it makes sense: I can probably get that for 2000 CHF, and I could also get it for 8000. What I’d get would be different, of course — but basically, it would fulfill the basic need.

I liked what she said, because it resonated with some background thought process of mine which never quite made it to the surface. In my “industry” (let’s think of social media here, like corporate blogging), you can also “get anything for anything”. **Want a corporate blog? Well, we can do it for 2000, but also for 20’000** — or even more.

Let me explain a little. This is something that’s been bothering me for a few months, and I’m glad I’ve finally figured it out.

When I quit my day job (or was about to do so), I set up blogs for some clients. It was very **lightweight**: evangelize, install WordPress, show somebody how it worked, adapt a design to a WordPress theme, give some strategic advice (not always received) — and there we go. Sometimes, I didn’t even go through all that. It was “talk a couple of hours, open a []( account, done”.

*But I wasn’t that happy with the results.* People often didn’t really “get” it. I felt they were under-using their blogs, that they could be doing so much more with them. Sometimes, people “didn’t get it” to the point that they actually didn’t really use the blog we’d set up.

So, I changed my way of working. Over the weeks and months, I came to understand just how vital training was when it came to understanding social media. Not just the technical aspects, but as I’ve written [again]( and [again]( (and probably elsewhere), the cultural and strategic aspects of it. So, I started to include that in my discussions with clients.

“Setting up a blog and learning how to publish a post is just the beginning. The big job is understanding the blogging culture, and figuring out how blogging fits into or changes (in most cases!) your communication strategy.”

*I didn’t want my clients to be disappointed in their blogs, or to “fail”, or to mess up too much.* It brought me to quoting healthy 5-figure prices for “we’d like a corporate blog” type of requests.

Not surprisingly, they thought it was a tad expensive. “Isn’t the whole point of this social media stuff the fact that it’s supposed to be *cheap*?” So, I didn’t get the gigs in question, and I wasn’t very happy either. The corporations I’ve been in touch with seem quite ready to be evangelized about social media, but not really ready to bet money on it.

(I know a lot of what I’m saying is old news, so forgive me if I seem to be stating the obvious to some of you.)

About a week ago I had a chat with one of my old clients, who told me that after about a year of having a rather non-bloggy blog things were slowly starting to change. Nothing very notable, but **they were loosening up**. They brought in somebody to help for the website who was more of a “web” person, and that had a positive influence on how lively the publication was becoming.

This seemed to bring me an answer to something I’d been uneasy about: lately, I’d caught myself explaining how blogging, as a tool, creates a certain kind of culture and communication strategy — but in the same breath, kind of negating that by insisting that throwing blogs at people doesn’t make bloggers out of them. I still think I’m correct about this, but it’s more complex than I make it sound. If you give somebody a blog, and they use it long enough, sooner or later they’ll start to “get it”. The catch is that there are high chances they will give up before they get there. And also, there is no knowing how long they’ll take to “get it”.

So, what do I do with this? **On the one hand, it is possible to keep blogging “cheap”. On the other hand, I do believe it makes sense (particularly for corporations) to invest a hefty chunk of time and money in learning to get it right.** (Corporations don’t hesitate much about spending lots of $$ — or even €€ or ££! — on software solutions… put that money you’ll save on the software in training and strategic consulting when it comes to social media.)

I realised that the key was *compromise*.

**Say your budget for opening a corporate blog is 2K.** We’ll open a account or install WordPress on a server somewhere, get you a domain name, maybe a cheaply customised theme with your logo in it. I’ll show you how to use the tool’s basic functions. I’ll give you some advice (blogger’s survival kit), recommend some other tools to try, and that’s about it. You’re on your own.

You’ll scrape your knees. It might take you a year or more to figure out for yourself that blogging isn’t about reproducing your “print” or “old marketing” content in a light CMS called a blogging tool. You might give up, or decide that this blogging thing is not all it’s hyped to be — it’s too hard, it doesn’t work, it’s just a fad. On the other hand, if you do hang on in there, feel your way through the crises, engage with your readers, learn to be part of the community, mess up and apologize… There is a lot of value in there for you.

**If your budget is 50K, we’ll do things differently.** I’ll follow and train your team over 6 months. I’ll walk you through the crises. I’ll help you prevent some. I’ll hold your hand while you learn. Talk with you when your communication strategy feels rattled by this alien blogging thing you’re doing. Help you see clearly so you understand what’s at stake more clearly when you have decisions to make. Spend time convincing the sceptics that what you’re doing really has value. Teach you to write better, as a blogger. Show you how blogging is part of this Bigger Thing that’s been happening online over the last years. When we’re done, I’ll have taught you almost as much as I know, and you’ll be autonomous.

In both cases, I’m compromising. The client is compromising. Blogging *is* about learning in the open, messing up in public, and getting scalded by the heat of real relationships and real people and real conversations. It’s about being human.

**Where exactly is the compromise?**

In the first scenario (the “cheap” one), the client isn’t really ready to invest much time and money in understanding blogging, or doesn’t have the means to do so. If he’s not committed or not passionate enough, the whole thing will **fail**. Remember that **many people start blogging, and then stop**. They’re just not around to tell us about it. All we see are the *natural bloggers*, those who have it in their blood, so to speak. Those who have a personality that fits well with the medium. On the flip side, the client gets the “real deal” right away. No training wheels.

In the second scenario (the “expensive” one), the compromise is in **saving the client’s face**. It spares the client the indignity of learning through making lots of mistakes, and in public. By investing time and money, and hiring competent people, you can avoid making gross mistakes, and appear to “get it” faster than if you jump in and half drown before you figure out how to float. We’re compromising here by preventing the client from looking too bad while he gets to grip with the new medium. Ultimately, the client will have to learn to lose face every now and again — nobody can prevent the business from messing up now and again. But it won’t be due to being uncomfortable with an unfamiliar medium.

**I don’t think there is *one right way* to get into blogging. Just like there is not a “best” way to learn, between taking classes and learning all by yourself. Both of these scenarios are good — and all those in between. It will depend on the client:**

– is the client ready to scrape his knees in public, a lot — or is he still happy with a rather controlled communication strategy, which he wants to ease out of gently?
– is the client willing to see his attempt to get into blogging fail (for a variety of reasons) — or does he want to put all the chances on his side to make sure he sticks with it?
– is the client on a budget — or is money not an issue?

Which brings me back to where I started. Translating what my friend says to my own business: if you want to get into blogging and your budget is set, it’s possible (within reason, of course). In all cases, you’ll get “blogging”, but you’ll get different flavours and intensities of it.

You *just* have to trust the professional you hire for this to be giving you your money’s worth.

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FOWA: Enterprise Adoption of Social Software (Suw Charman) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)]( session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. [Suw has written a blog post about her presentation.](*

FOWA 2007 105

Suw is a freelance consultant, has done a lot of work with businesses and vendors. Guide on getting your stuff used by businesses, based on her experience.

A couple of areas to think about:

– tech readiness? does our tool work?
– support readiness? are we ready to provide support to our customers, and how they will adopt our tool and convince people in their business to adopt the tool?

Two sides of the same tool.

Important: make sure your tool is really ready. If it’s still buggy, if the interface or language is confusing, don’t try to sell it into enterprise. Get more funding first. You only get one chance in enterprise. They won’t come back to see where you’re at.

FOWA 2007 106

Incremental improvements based on user feedback won’t work in businesses. They want something that works now, and regular but not-too-frequent updates. Stability.

Have a process for feature requests. Difference between big vendors (MS, Oracle) “this is what we’re giving you, deal with it” and small vendors.

Pilots aren’t an opportunity to do user testing. They’ll shy away if they feel they’re being used as guiney-pigs.

Don’t assume simple tools will automatically get adopted. People very resistant to use software. They don’t use software because it’s cool. They just want to get the job done, and will find ways to work around the tools they’re given.

Where do you start? Try to figure out what businesses want from you as a vendor, and your tool.

– integration with their existing systems, single sign-on, active directory, LDAP
– very concerned about security: “can our employees use this and put data in it and have that data be safe from accidental stupidness or prying eyes?” Technical security and user stupidness security (delete everything by mistake). Big plus for wikis, which have history. Disaster recovery: offices burn down, how will you help them retrieve their data

Understanding time scales. It can take months for things to happen. Lots of things can get in the way of adoption, even with vocal evangelists inside. Contracts, lawyers, packaging…

– be aware of internal political rankings (stakeholder management)
– be flexible about how you intend to sell into business. You might end up having to host your service (very different from selling a chunk of software). Trojan mouse solutions.
– be prepared for runaway success. Can you scale? Really? Quickly? Administration can turn around from “against it” to “we want this everywhere, now!” in the space of weeks
– be prepared for failure — understand what happened, and have processes in place so that you can learn from failure, but possibly not the same way. Try and fail in new and innovative ways.

Businesses are quite happy to spend money on hardware, software, but not really on operational (people) stuff. Bundle in your support costs into your selling price. If you do an unsupported package, they’ll take that, and you’ll still get the calls. You need to make sure you can afford to help your client get the best out of your tool. How will you be responsive? How will you deal with your contacts in the business, and all the (possibly tens of thousands) of people in the business using your tool?

Sales! One case where a business tried to get through to the sales people to buy, and didn’t get a response. Had to call the CEO! Have someone available to talk to a client.

How are you going to explain your tool to the people who are going to use it? You *need* an adoption strategy. No use in just giving people your tool. *steph-note: as I say, [throwing blogs at people doesn’t make them bloggers](* What kind of materials are you going to provide them with?

A good place to start: **pilots**. Groups of like people. Who are groups of people who might benefit from this? Case with wiki: PAs and secretaries, for example. People like very specific use cases. Not good at generalising. Who are you talking to and what do they need from your tool?

**Adoption isn’t a business goal.** Running the business is the business goal. You need to meet both the wider business goals and the individual people’s goals.

**People don’t use documentation.** They don’t click help. They ask human beings instead. There is a lot of informal and semi-formal learning going on in businesses. 80% is informal, it seems. Formal learning, training courses aren’t effective. How can you provide ad hoc support? IRC channel? Social collaborative learning tools? (blogs, wikis)

**Centralised support** is important for the people using the tool. If the company is going to take over that role, they’ll need the materials for it. Make your material user task oriented, not software task oriented. “This is how you do a meeting agenda in the wiki.” Not “this is how you make a page”. Present it to them on a plate.

A qualitative leap needs to be made between old and new things, even if the new things aren’t so much more complicated. That leap can be difficult. But at some point, when enough people in the organisation are using the tool, they start helping each other. Provide the materials for that. Giving people the confidence that they know how it works.

Don’t try to make it up as you go along. **Plan in advance.** Bring people in. You don’t have to do it all alone (materials, etc).

[More about this!]( Important: both management and grassroots buy-in. Balancing top-down with bottom-up approaches.

Q: tips for demonstrating tool usefulness?
A: work on the use cases. ROI: investing time and money and getting something in return. Important to understand those metrics. Careful, metrics don’t tell you what an individual’s use of something is. One of the problems with social software is that it can sound a little fluffy. “It improves collaboration.” But people think like “I want it to improve productivity to the point I can fire someone.”

Q: is it different for open source tools?
A: enterprises can be very wary of it (how will we get support?) even though there is a huge amount of open source being used. The more technically savvy they are, the more likely they’ll go for it, and the more business-oriented, the less. No hard and fast rules.

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