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Social Media Policy or Police? September 30, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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Social Networking PoliceSocial Media Policy is a hot topic for most businesses. The larger the enterprise the greater the impact on the IT infrastructure. Bandwidth bottlenecks can occur quickly with employees all viewing YouTube, Vimeo and Viddler videos simultaneously. Reports on the reduction in employee productivity at work will lead you to believe that social media is a waste of time and that there’s no reason to be in Facebook on business time. Security issues are also a concern with the proliferation of social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter that offer apps, chat and email functions. So what should a company do?

Begin a Dialogue with Your Employees
Don’t just lock everyone out of everything! This reactionary approach will make your firm look like a dinosaur to your team as well as your customers. I’ve seen this implemented at large publicly held construction companies and I think they’ve shot themselves in the foot by locking out everyone with URL filtering. Determine which employees and social media applications can contribute to your company brand, market reach and customer relationships. Ask your marketing, communications and sales people including anyone involved with customer relationship management or customer support for their input. Check out your competitor’s website to see what social media applications and tools they are using. Often you’ll see a few icons listed somewhere on their site, an invitation to connect in the sidebar of a blog or perhaps an RSS feed of their social activity.

Establish a Social Media Policy
Start with defining what is acceptable and unacceptable when using social media sites as you do for email and cell phone usage. Yes, your Legal and Information technology teams will probably influence (scare) you enough that risk tolerance decisions will need to be made. My favorite book for addressing social media policy is The e-Policy Handbook by Nancy Flynn. You may have already decided that “we only allow LinkedIn”, period. Think again. The most popular Business to Business (B2B) network by far in the United States is LinkedIn and they’ve just added the ability to display Twitter feeds and blog posts on the Company Profile. Since blog posts often have videos embedded in articles, you may have just policed yourself into not being able to view your own marketing materials.

Get the IT Department on Board
With budget cuts across the board, IT is trying to do everything without spending money and often takes the “lock down” approach as the only thing they can do with the tools they currently have. Perhaps you should consider budgeting for new equipment, particularly firewalls that address social media. It’s not good enough anymore to rely on old technology. Traditional firewalls rely on port and protocol to classify traffic, allowing tech-savvy applications and users to bypass them with ease; hopping ports, using
SSL, sneaking across port 80, or using non-standard ports. It may be time to have your network traffic analyzed for applications, users and content, you need to know what bandwidth is used by social media and have a way to monitor and enforce your policies effectively. The Interface2010 Technology Symposium has this topic covered and while I attended the Scottsdale, AZ event last week, you can still catch them in a few other US cities this year.

We’re in the process of scheduling a webinar to help educate business owners and their IT departments on social media policy, monitoring and network security. If you’d like to receive a webinar invitation, be interested in a network audit or have questions, please ask us by posting a comment. Please share this with your business partners, IT friends, and customers.

Social Media Safety Meeting Minute May 3, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, records retention, twitter, web 2.0.
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The idea of a Safety Meeting in a minute is a great idea, which I must thank Tim Greene of Networld for sharing in a PCWorld article yesterday. What’s different if you haven’t figured it out is this is not your typical construction site safety meeting. We’re talking about Internet Safety and I believe the idea is fantastic.

The premise is if you had to take a 1-minute internet safety lesson before being allowed access to the Internet your employees would recognize just how important it is to protect their identity and the electronic information contained within the company. The article mentions many of the popular social media sites but doesn’t give you 10 lessons to kick start the idea. So why not make this blog post a place for everyone to share their ideas…and build a 100 or more “lessons”? I’m extending this to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter too (as I believe a 140 character tip will ensure the time constraint of keeping it to one minute).

Safety Tips

To get us started, here are a few of my one minute safety tips:

  • Know your company’s policy on Social Media use (Write a corporate policy on Social Media)
  • Make all your passwords more than one word in length and include at least one number
  • Never write (post) anything you wouldn’t want your mom or your boss to read (or see)
  • Text Messages from your Blackberry are “discoverable” so think of them as business emails
  • If you blog independently of work, make sure it is understood the contents are not the opinions of a past, current or future employer, but only that of the blogger’s
  • If you post while at work to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn make sure it is work or industry related (see corporate policy)
  • Never open attachments or click hyperlinks from people you don’t know and trust
  • Now that you get the idea, let’s hear your one minute (or less) lessons and Tips. I promise to share them with you all!

    6 Steps to Social Media Success January 26, 2010

    Posted by carolhagen in web 2.0.
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    Today I was speaker at the eWomenNetwork luncheon in Tempe Arizona. A group of women entrepreneurs wanted to understand how social media can impact their business.   This group is focused on the strategic plan and beginning  their journey minimizing their mistakes.  If you are testing the waters don’t be discouraged but recognize that “build it and they will come” is a misnomer.   Social media should be meshed into the heart of the marketing, branding and thought leadership of a firm.  Since many of you didn’t have the opportunity to be there, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of the presentation.

    1. Claim your brand (your company name, and your own name).  Your brand should be focused on your customers needs and as much as possible be controlled by you.  Now I use the word control loosely as this is not the corporate tower mentality of press releases and case studies from your Public Relations Department.  But your  brand conversations and those happening on the internet should be in your possession.  How do you do this?  Use Namechk.com to find if your preferred brand username is available.  Namechck.com will search what’s been taken in the social media realm.  Grab your names in the major social media sites now or they will be gone later!
    2. Listen.  You must know what’s already going on in your business niche.  Not so much what social media tools everyone is using, but listening to the conversation.  The majority are out creating facebook pages as extensions of their website, but forget that social media is a participation sport.  What are we listening for?  What is being said about our firm, our industry and our competitors?   What are our potential customers asking for? Careful consideration should be focused on who is participating.  Start your listening with a few searches on google about your company name…look for reviews, see  if you’re listed on the first  page of search results, etc.  Then move to some listening technologies like Google AlertsTweetDeck  and Social Mention
    3. Begin participating.  Perhaps you are a B2B so you start with LinkedIn.  I see more people who start here and never really get it.  They get a dozen friends in their network and nothing happens.  Here are three things you will all do today: Change your title under your name to more of what you do.  For instance if you are in sales say customer relationship and business development for the XYZ industry.  You want people to find you.  Add a few applications to your profile… Reading List by Amazon and Bloglink.   The reading list is for sharing, the Bloglink is for listening and sharing.  You can automatically see the blogs that your LinkedIn connections have and get to know what they are passionate about.  And join a few groups so at least you look connected and interested.  After all the do call this “Social Networking”. Post comments to their blogs, ask and answer questions in the group discussions and get your feet wet!
    4. Decide what the purpose of your social media participation is.  Perhaps you want to help a friend get a job.  Maybe you want to promote your philanthropic and community causes.  I bet you all want to market your products and services.  This strategy meeting is not just the owner, unless you are a sole proprietor.  Even then I’d say talk with a mentor, social media strategist, branding, marketing or PR firm.  Involve business development and sales then prioritize.  A few hours a planning will save weeks of effort.  Read a few good books like Putting the Public back In Public Relations,  The Long Tail, Trust Agents and Groundswell as they will  help you understand the social media craze and how to leverage it.
    5. Consider  a Blog.  I believe that a Blog is the most underutilized social media tool.  It can convey your passion, relay your expertise, reach into the emotions of your potential clients and start a conversation.  Oh, and it will help you climb the search engine rankings easily if done right.  There are two schools of thought for beginners.  One is I am afraid to jump all in, so they start a blog using Write4.net if they want it to be super easy, or wordpress.com if they are halfway convinced that this blogging thing is right for them.  Write4.net will tweet your blog post and give you a blog with a few nice features like the Retweet button.  Neither of these will ideally optimize search engine ranking but can help with website traffic.  I have to admit, I’m wishing I had just started with WordPress.org but hindsight is 20/20.  Problogger tried to convince me too but it looked like to much work to start.  He also has some many fabulous suggestions on copy, writing headlines, creating compelling calls to action, etc.  With your strategy in hand write a few posts that keep the focus on the customer and help them out (for free).  Write good headlines as they will determine whether anyone reads your blog. 
    6. Maximize your reach.  The best way to expand reach for most firms is with a combo attack.  Blogs, Twitter, newsletters, Facebook don’t only use one method – as you limit your reach.  If you are afraid to start writing a blog or concerned about the expense there are many free and easy choices.  The professional blogger will lean toward WordPress.org and rightfully so.

    Recognize everything you participate in can help you in search engine rankings, positions you as an expert or interested learner and improves your reach for authority.  Stay focused on the customer and building their trust.  I believe it was Chris Brogan who said social media is “two parts helping, two parts connecting and one part selling”.

    If you attended the luncheon, would you please add comments to this blog on what you learned and what your have planned as your next social media step.

    Social Media Use in Real Estate and Construction Industry December 8, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I finally found a definitive study from Business.com that devotes a portion of their research to my niche…the construction industry.  In the 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking study published in November discussed such things as “What do people consider to be the most useful social media resources for business information?” and “How do B2B companies judge social media success?”  Some of these finding like only 17% of real estate and construction use Twitter to find or request business related information isn’t surprising, but over half of the survey participants visit company blogs and company profile pages on social media sites.  This free study is a must read so you know what the Most Popular Business Social Media Initiatives are, how executives use social media differently and how they measure social media success.   

    Source: Business.com’s 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study (http://www.business.com/info/b2b-social-media-benchmark-study 





    LinkedIn and TweetDeck Together at Last December 7, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    My workshops have been attended by construction firm execs, IT and marketing personnel, and we have spent plenty of time discussing Tweetdeck and Twitter.  LinkedIn was already being used by every student in the class.  Now we all need to take advantage of the recent upgrade to TweetDeck (v0.32.1).  TweetDeck has just added LinkedIn accounts to make it easy for you to view LinkedIn updates in your own personalized column…a one stop shop.  Here’s how to get this working.  Under your TweetDeck settings, choose accounts and add your LinkedIn info:

    Once you have that done, you can add your own LinkedIn column based upon your preferences.  From TweetDeck click on the add column button and select the LinkedIn icon.  You can decide what items to include like recommendations, connections, status updates, etc.  Here are your choices so you can be a smarter, more efficient listener:

    Now that you are listening, have you tried out the Twitter options on LinkedIn?  I blogged about it a few weeks back.  Read it here if you missed it.  Now have you all considered using Twitter (or some other microblogging application) for your company press releases?

    Apps for LinkedIn – Words of Wisdom for Developers November 23, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, web 2.0.
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    With today’s announcement that LinkedIn has opened up their API to software developers and TweetDeck stating in their blog that LinkedIn will be integrated into their next release, it is only a matter of time before we all have more business apps than the iPhone. 

    Here are a few suggestions to all those developers that want to make millions and really do have some great ideas that I just gleaned from the book Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application by Jason Fried:

    • Design smart by drawing out a few screen shots and then making them HTML before you start to program
    • Create a buzz before release with a few snippets and ask for email addresses to get early adapters enabled
    • Be passionate and create a blog for your adopters and keep your readers updated
    • Don’t wait til everything is perfect to launch…get a beta out for people to try
    • Keep it simple and streamlined so no one needs training to use your app
    • Offer a free version that’s easy to signup for
    • Focus…not every app is for everyone.  Keep your eye on your target audience!

    I thought this would get you all to read the whole book.  What’s in it for me?  Better designed, useful apps for me as a LinkedIn user of course!  I’m ready to try out new Web 2.0 apps for LinkedIn (especially for those focused in the construction, architectural & engineering industries) and hope to hear about all your successes soon.

    More Tips on Blog Subscriptions November 13, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    As promised this is a continuance of “Attracting Blog Subscriptions” highlighting other functions and features of Feedburner.  Today we’re spreading the news of your blog  (and if you attended my recent seminar Web 2.0 tools for the construction industry or one of my Social Media on a Shoestring Budget workshops , this is a homework assignment).  If you have a few subscribers, why not make it easy for them to share it with the friends and co-workers?  You can do that easily giving them options to email it or share it on Facebook.  The tool is called FeedFlare and it’s found under the optimize tab: feedflare1

    This gives the viewer of your blog feed or site an opportunity to pass it along, make it more popular with Digg and spread your message.  Once you choose FeedFlare, select the options you want for your feed or site and it will show you what it will look like to your readers:

    feedflare2You can reorder the choices you selected by dragging the Share on Facebook or Digg it hyperlinks using drag-n-drop. You’re done when you hit SAVE. 

    The next time your feed goes out, all your subscribers will have these choices to share and you will reap the rewards! 

    There is also a FeedFlare catalog of other choices to add including english to spanish translations, adding links to your favorite charity, event promotions and Map It
    (to Link to a web mapping service display for feed items that have location context associated with them). 

    Go ahead and experiment. Try out FeedFlare and let me know about your success.  We love your comments.

    Oh, and since you read the whole blog post, you can add a follow me on twitter flare with these instructions from HyveUp

    I’ve been Beta’d by Twitter November 11, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I was pleased to see a notification this morning on my Twitter account that I believe will be valuable to all the listeners in the Twitterverse.  Here’s a screen shot of the Retweet To Share Tweets (Beta):RetweetToShareTweets

    I think Twitter got this one right.  If I want to know what my followers are really interested in, it should be their retweets.  After all it is a call to action for their own followers and represents the groundswell of our followers reach too.  What better way to understand the value of content than from our followers.  This is a keeper as far as I’m concerned.  Now will this feature be incorporated into some of the popular aggregators like TweetDeck?  How do you decide when to retweet?

    Attracting Blog Subscriptions November 6, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email, web 2.0.
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    It’s a funny thing how everyone has a blog but most have a dozen subscribers if that.  In business you need to publicize your blog everywhere.  I tried promoting it via a plain hyperlink in my email signature but no one clicked on it…that is until I made it an animated subscription.  My email  signature now automatically cycles through the last five posts.  Every email recipient has the opportunity to see the topics I’ve recently discussed and decide then & there whether it interests them.  How’d I do it?  It’s easy…

    1. First Sign-up for Google Feedburner and enter your blog’s information (title, original address aemailblogsignnd new feedburner address). and save your feed details.  Don’t worry, this is free. 
    2. Click on the Publicize tab.
    3. Select the Headline Animator.
    4. Select email signature.
    5. From the dropdown, choose email signature and click next
    6. Follow the instructions in the pop-up based upon your email service.  It’s available for Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook Express, Outlook 2003, Yahoo Mail and has workarounds for Gmail and Apple Mail too.

    There’s plenty of other great features to help you with optimization and publicizing your blog with Feedburner.  I’ll make this a series of how to’s for the next few weeks.  If the construction industry starts using collaboration 2.0 (aka social media) for marketing and communication, for sure they will want to learn all these blog tips. 

    Share your success with us.  We like to hear from our readers!

    Social Media Challenges in Business Similar to Early Internet Adoption October 30, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in communication, twitter, web 2.0.
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    Here we are 40 years after the Internet was first used to send a message and business is repeating history with their adoption rates to new technologies. 

    From a Robert Half Technology Survey and mentioned in Stowe Boyd’s blog post Enterprises Block Social Networks, 54% of US companies with over 100 employees have completely blocked sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.  At the same time, analysts at Gartner are telling IT managers, Loosen up on social networks, security.   These opposing views remind me of the early years of the Internet.  You could walk into a business in the early 1980’s with a dozen PCs and one of them was not connected to the network.  That lone PC was connected to the internet, but it wasn’t safe to have the entire office on-line.  The reasoning was that some hacker could break in and steal all your accounting data and the employees would spend all their time surfing the net rather than working.  

    This battlecry has reared it’s head in the business world with Social Media as “someone might say something negative about us.  We don’t trust our employees to work during working hours.  Lock it down.  Turn it off!”   The control must be kept by the CIO or communications director, and our lawyer and HR department are ready to reprimand any employee that crosses the line.  Oops, only 30% of business have a social media policy.   You can get help with social media and email policy from my earlier blog post Email Records retention Can Be Tricky.

    This fear of social networking will handcuff the enterprise while competitors will leapfrog ahead.  If you don’t trust your employees with some responsibility, why did you hire them?  As Paul Proctor, a VP at Gartner says, “You cannot protect yourself from everything. You must learn to balance risk and performance.”  AIIM has gathered a number of statistics from surveys and research that help to explain the current state and where we are heading.   Here’s just a snippet to share:

    Over half of organizations consider Enterprise 2.0 to be “important” or “very important” to their business goals and success.  Only 25% are actually doing anything about it, but this is up from 13% in 2008.  Knowledge-sharing, collaboration and responsiveness are considered the biggest drivers.  Lack of understanding, corporate culture and cost are the biggest impediments.

    Let’s look at this from the perspective of the business leader.  They hear the word social and think of twittering “I’ll meet you at the pub after work”.  The word social needs to be replaced with business  collaboration when you bring the discussion from the IT department to the Board of Directors.    The real questions that business should be focusing on are:

    • How can we harness “collaborative” networks to improve communications, knowlege sharing, marketing efforts, etc?
    • Should our deployments be internal or external? 
    • Have we developed our business strategy to include these technologies?

    There are numerous business reasons to embrace Social Media including public relations, brand building, lead generation, crisis management and search engine optimization.  Now that Twitter has deals with Bing and Google, to crawl the twitterverse,  I suspect a few more firms will be appointing a “corporate twitterer”.    You want to be planning now as I read in the Social Computing Journal , Nielsen Norman Group estimates “a timeline of approximately three to five years for most organizations to successfully adopt and integrate social technologies into their intranets.”  Better shake a leg.

    LinkedIn, Twitter and Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry August 19, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    Yesterday I presented the seminar “LinkedIn, Twitter and Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry” at the American Subcontractors Association Arizona Chapter office. While well attended, I found the majority to be in the same boat as most B2B firms… still trying to understand just what Social Networking is all about and how these tools could impact their business.

    Interestingly enough, one attendee was from a Lien Service and was successfully using LinkedIn for locating people that had stiffed their suppliers & subs. One designated Twitterer @smallgiants came to see how they could more effectively communicate with their customers with Twitter and Blogging…I actually suggested a forum or discussion group for their clients while using a blogging tool like WordPress.org or WordPress.com to give them easier updating and flexibility. 

    The contractors present all had the “generation gap” syndrome and needed to understand that this Web 2.0 stuff is not a fad it is about a method of communication that creates a conversation. These conversations can be with employees, customers and vendors but depending upon your strategy you should focus on one group of people at a time in deploying any web 2.0 tools.  Another consideration before jumping in is addressing your e-policy to include such things as disclaimers on any employees “freelance” blogging as it is likely they have you listed as their employer.  If you haven’t created an e-policy yet I recommend “The e-POLICY Handbook” by Nancy Flynn.

    Every construction firm should have their company profile on LinkedIn and at least a few employees, particularly business development and human resources connected to LinkedIn.  It is where unemployed construction talent has posted their resume, and it’s where savvy entrepreneurs are recruiting.  This morning I received my weekly update from the McGraw-Hill Construction LinkedIn Group and a discussion post included an 8 page summary of Jim Collin’s book “Good To Great” and applying it’s study and conclusion to the business of construction contracting.  I guess this just reiterates the message of my seminar, to get started you must first listen to people, then determine your objectives to create a web 2.0 strategy before you pick all the technology for a full court press of embrasing E2.0 or web 2.0 tools. 

    Have you started a web 2.0 project?  I’d like to hear about your experiments, challenges, and success stories.  Leave a comment or contact me directly.

    Construction Industry Slow to Adopt Twitter August 12, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I was speaking with the CFO of a highway heavy contractor recently and he thought that Twitter was a waste of time. Of course this gentleman was over 50 and thought that tweets were just going to be more spam being delivered to his phone or email. Isn’t this the conception you have of Twitter?

    There are 8 Things You Need to Know About Twitter and Business according to John Mancini, president of AIIM International.   Twitter is more than instant messaging because it has a world wide reach.  You need to keep your business purpose in mind and understand the use of hashtags when using this web 2.0 tool.  There are some contracting firms getting their feet wet, and using a twitter account like Leobuild that posts press releases and some news in hopes of driving traffic to the Leopardo website.  So while I haven’t found a construction firm hugging the tweetdeck wholeheartedly, but how ’bout an A/E firm? 

    HOK, a prominent architectural firm launched HOK life last year using blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more. It’s more about extending the conversatation. They tweet about HOK media coverage, employee’s accomplishments, project stories, publications, new hires and more. They are branding their firm as “the best firm to work for” and a place where new technology is embraced.  They build links between tweets & blogs, pulling you into the conversation and encouraging discussions, improving relationships and personalizing their firm.   Their employees use these tools during work hours, their purpose is clear and their company rules are few.  Do you think they have talent chasing them?

    Twitter is just one of the web 2.0 tools out there that is underutilized by the construction industry.  In my efforts to educate contractors I use Twitter and LinkedIn to announce seminars and other events including an upcoming  Lunch N’ Learn entitled, “Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Networking/Social Media in the Construction Industry”  at the American Subcontractors Association office in Phoenix on August 18th. 

    Are you interested but can’t attend in person?  There will be a webinar announced in the near future.  I’d also be interested in contracting firms that are using web 2.0 tools extensively in the USA.  I welcome the comments.

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