Jeremy Schultz: Straddling the Firewall

Two great weekly Twitter chats on social media and internal communications: #icchat and #behindthefirewall

Posted in Development by Jeremy Schultz on July 15, 2009

Two Twitter chats—a scheduled hour on Twitter using a specific hashtag usually moderated or kicked off with a question—have sprung up in recent weeks on social media and internal communication. If you have an interest and/or expertise on this topic, I think you can contribute and learn in both of these chats:

#icchat: Started by Susan Cellura (@susancellura), this chat runs every Wednesday at 12 noon CST/1 pm EST. The 7/8/09 chat, for instance, discussed the role of a communicator as an internal community manager. More info on this series on Susan’s blog. Susan also often recaps the discussion on her blog, such as last week’s post on communicators as community managers.

#behindthefirewall: Started by Arik Hanson (@arikhanson) and Rick Mahn (@rickmahn), this chat also covers social media inside the company and how it relates to communications. Behind the Firewall now occurs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. CST. I’m trying to confirm this change and will update this post when I find out. Details and history on Arik’s blog.

One caveat on #behindthefirewall: Twitter doesn’t like hashtags longer than 15 characters, but if you search on “behindthefirewall” without the #, it works fine.

One tool I’ve found useful for chats is Tweetgrid. Here’s a sample page that I’ve set up for myself.. I’ve had better luck with the Tweetgrid site versus Tweetdeck, which is my usual Twitter client of choice.

I hope to see you join the discussion!

UPDATE: #behindthefirewall is confirmed on Thursdays at 8 p.m. CST.


I’m going with “social computing”

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on February 15, 2009

Russel recently asked, “What should we call ‘Intranet Social Media’?”

The commenters came to no conclusion. I don’t have the answer.

For now on, however, I’m going with Social Computing. Why? It’s what our IT group is calling it (Laurie, who wrote that post, is the program manager for social computing tools in IT.)

Simple as that. I don’t know why they decided to use it, but it works for me. I like the fact that it’s open ended; enterprise 2.0, for instance, suggests you know what the end looks like.

So, I won’t talk about our “intranet social media plan,” or driving enterprise 2.0 as a communicator. I won’t talk about a socialist revolution. I’ll stick with social computing, and how I use it as a communicator, to reach employees worldwide.

Building an intranet social media usage plan for communications

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on February 5, 2009

My colleague Nisha and I are building what we’re calling a Social Media Usage Plan for our global employee communications department. The plan has three main goals:

  • Define and drive usage of social computing tools by our department as both a communications channel and a way to better collaborate within our organization
  • Drive employee adoption and appropriate use of social tools to better collaborate, share, and discover colleagues and information
  • Influence senior leaders on the value of social tools for their personal communications plans and to strengthen their organizations

To get there, we’ve started to define where we are now, and where we want to go.

The current state

I don’t think we’re bleeding edge in the adoption of social tools, but we’re not too shabby. Here’s what we have inside the firewall today, and we use each tool in communications:

  • Blogs: Any employee can sign up and start their own blog, and we have several “group” blogs, used by programs and projects for status updates, etc. I think we have roughly 2000 active blogs. For communications, we have a blog that we use to capture comments for global intranet news stories. We also occasionally feature an employee blog on our main intranet site, from the CEO down to individual contributors.
  • Forums: The blog site also contains forums, which are more active, and far more diverse than the blogs. Forums range from hobbies (cycling, gaming), to teams and organizations, to temporary campaigns. We use forums primarily for occasional web jams. Several organizations have conducted 2-3 day jams over the last couple years, with rich discussion and very positive results.
  • Wikis: We have a central, anyone-can-edit wiki called Intelpedia, that is used pretty widely. It started as a carpet server project (as did blogs), and was eventually crowned “official” by IT. There are also several private, departmental wikis spread across the company. We use Intelpedia to capture the living information we write in news articles, and we frequently link to reference material there from within our stories.
  • RSS: Besides the syndication offerings of the three aforementioned tools, RSS is spotty. We offer RSS of our news articles, and several departmental newsletters do, too. For better or worse, all of these also offer email. We have an IT-approved RSS reader, but it’s not automatically installed on all machines. In my experience so far, consumption of RSS is limited to those with at least a bit of IT geekiness.
  • Microsharing, MOSS, IM, Flickr, Facebook…: A handful of other tools, with varying levels of social capabilities, exist across the company. A few biz groups have custom tools, we have a microsharing proof of concept underway, we have an employee group on Flickr, and we have quite a bit of folks on Facebook. The one of these we feature in our communications is an occasional top 5 employee Flickr photos story as a “Friday fun” kind of feature.

How can we more explicitly use social computing tools as a communications organization to connect with employees, fosters connections between employees, and inspire better cross-group innovation? That’s what we’re working to do.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what’s coming on the social computing roadmap, and how we can improve use of social tools by communications as a channel and as a collaboration tool.