Social media Q&A: Euan Semple at Guru Online

Do you know someone who’s trying to figure out what’s meant by Social Media, whether it’s appropriate for business, and how it can help them? I had a conversation like that with a friend – not a business colleague – on a visit last weekend. Or maybe it’s you or your company.

Have a look at this video from Euan Semple, posted at Guru Online. It’s posted as a series of short clips, each addressing one of a series of questions, rather than one long interview. It’s well worth the effort. Euan understands business, he understands the issues that get raised about these new opportunities for collaboration, and he has answers to them too.

While you’re at it, have a look at some of the other stuff on the Guru site.

• Social Media advice for businesses, Guru Online

A bit more on Gartner’s blogs

Zymurgy’s Law of Exploding System Dynamics says: “When you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can them is to use a larger can”. Looks like I did that with this one. Particular apologies to Euan, because I should have remembered his presentation better than this! But I don’t regret starting the discussion about how external facing guidelines can be effectively created. Make sure you read the comments as well as this post.

I just came across the starting note on Anthony Bradley’s Gartner blog which is interesting because it outlines the process Gartner went through before they let their analysts loose. Task forces, business plans and guidelines all carefully researched and internally validated by management.

I’m not going to add any commentary except to say that if you’ve heard Euan Semple talk about the way that blogging was introduced to the BBC and became a significant force both inside the BBC and outward facing, you’ll have seen a very different, lighter weight and more community-oriented option. Not least: the BBC’s guidelines were developed, via a wiki, by the people actively doing that stuff. Only then were HR and legal invited to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. My last encounter with Euan was at a BCS evening in June – follow the link.

• Gartner Blogger Network Lessons Learned, Anthony Bradley, Gartner, 18 Sept 2008
• An evening with Social Computing – and a stunning view!, ITasITis, 17 Jun 2008

An evening with Social Computing – and a stunning view!

Some 40 years ago the BT Tower (the Post Office Tower, as was then) was on the tourist circuit and I took in the revolving view from the observation platform. Then it was bombed, and was permanently closed to the public.

So last evening was the first time since then I’ve had chance to ascend the Tower. The occasion: a BCS Elite meeting, a fascinating and informative evening on Web 2.0. I’ve heard Euan Semple before (I invited him to give a seminar at GSK), so this was an update on his thinking but complemented by two other speakers: Ian Aitchison, Group Communications Officer for the Japanese shipping and logistics company NYK, and Richard Dennison, Intranet & Channel Strategy Manager for BT (who’d never been up the Tower despite working for the company).

Euan tells a compelling story about how he embedded social media into the BBC, which he left a couple of years ago. He used it to introduce the audience to the panoply of services, and to explore the issues which corporates face. Their people are already using the public platforms privately and for business, but the more far-sighted are adopting them to help people work better together – as internal look-alikes or, in some cases, directly on the external platforms.

Ian Aitchison and Richard Dennison both picked up these themes, in their very different enterprises: NYK a worldwide, very scattered, very physically centred organisation, looking to social media to help them realise their strategic vision; and BT, providing virtual products, UK-centric but increasingly global and also widely scattered.

As I wrote a little while ago: human beings are a gregarious species; we communicate. Almost any network technology goes person-to-person. Social computing, in this sense, represents the Internet coming of age as person-to-person services multiply and people explore the potential.

So, in business, senior managers use blogs, RSS or even Twitter to communicate with their teams. The best share openly in discussion: plenty of examples, from all three speakers, showing how risky this actually isn’t. No-one questions the manager’s right to make the decision, but it’s a lot more likely to be accepted and understood, even by dissenters, after this kind of sharing. The BBC’s policy on external blogging by employees was created in a wiki by those most directly concerned, before it was top-and-tailed by HR and Legal – most enterprises still do this the other way round, and require multiple meetings rather than being able to capitalise on ten minutes of someone’s time here, and five of someone else’s there, to evolve to a satisfactory conclusion. And have you seen the movie someone created of the creation of the Wikipedia entry on the London 7 July bombings? That’s a graphic demonstration of the power of the crowd both to create useful information and to rectify damage very quickly.

Euan’s material isn’t postable, though he’s bloggedf already; and I don’t have Ian Aitchison’s. But have a look at Richard Dennison’s blog for a very similar presentation. And, of course, we all then adjourned to the 34th floor for a buffet supper and to enjoy the unparalleled view over London as the sun went down and the city lit its lights.

My slides from International Employee Communications Summit Richard Dennison, blog, 10 Jun 2008
One identity, multiple networks ITasITis, 9 Apr 2008
A Humanizing Influence Euan Semple, The Obvious? (Euan’s blog), 17 Jun 2008, with reference to the event
New Horizon 2010 NYK strategy