Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Thank You for a Great Conference!!

July 20, 2008

Whew!  I love attending and participating in industry conferences (especially when it’s on a topic close to my heart like social media), but it can be really draining!  Taking three days off of a work at the beginning of the week to participate in the conference just means that you now have two days the rest of the week to do five days’ worth of work!  That’s why I’m just now getting to this wrap-up post.  The good part of this is that I’ve had some time to reflect on all of the great dialogue that we had, both in the group setting and on a one-on-one level.

On Wednesday afternoon, I asked everyone to write the following ten things to take away from the conference.  Here they are:

  1. Be a Champion
  2. Get Leadership Buy-in
  3. Experiment on Your Own
  4. Continue to Learn
  5. Take Risks
  6. Involve IT, Legal, Public Affairs, training, change management
  7. Integrate Into Existing Strategies
  8. Start Small
  9. It’s About Culture
  10. Quality vs. Quickness

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but in listening the multitude of fantastic speakers that Kelly was able to bring together last week, these were the top ten points that were made over and over again.  From the first pre-conference workshop that Grant McLaughlin and I presented to the the Nancy Mulroy’s final presentation on how she applied the things she learned at last year’s conference, I loved seeing all of the various ways organizations big and small are using social media.

This conference served as validation for me – as you heard on Wednesday, my company is currently developing and implementing a suite of social media tools behind our firewall, and it’s always good to hear that we’re on the right track while staying flexible enough to adapt and learn from what others are doing.  More importantly though, I met a lot of great people who I’d like to continue learning from.  I think that’s always the most powerful thing about these types of conferences – the people you meet and the relationships that grow from that.

That’s why I’m really excited about having this blog and the soon-to-come wiki site available.  As we continue down the long and winding road of using social media, it’s good to know that there will be a resource available here for you to ask questions, engage in dialogue and get ideas.

I’ll post again once we get the wiki site set up so that you can all download the presentation materials.  But why wait?  Start your blog, start tweeting, create a YouTube channel, or just start using an RSS reader. Just remember, if you get stuck, there’s a whole community here on this blog where help is just a comment away!


Dept. of State: “Need to Know” to “Need to Share”

July 18, 2008

Speaker: Bruce Burton – Department of State

Topic: How to use social media innovations and web 2.0 tools to promote a knowledge-sharing culture among a widely dispersed organization


The Department of State certainly works in an environment dependent on knowledge. With 57,000+ employees across the world the organization has faced communication issues. Communication issues often stem from the highly autonomous business units (embassies and bureaus) and a communication structure that has not changed significantly since the era of Thomas Jefferson. In addition with the rise of the Cold War, a “need to know” mentality prevailed.

Bruce offered amazing insight into the Dept. Of State as he said the organization is moving from a culture of “need to know” to “need to share.” As a result of recent efforts over the past 4-5 years, the Dept. is successfully growing the adoption of tools such as Diplopedia, the internal wiki for the department.

Social Media is being implemented to help the organization achieve the following tasks:

  • Inform internal stakeholders
  • Manage information
  • Collaborate
  • Unite
  • Educate

User Adoption:

Bruce mentioned that The Department of State has approached everything in a viral way and will continue to do so. As a result hundreds of groups and pages of information have been formed.


Blog Software: Moveable Type
Internet address for information:


Have You Taken Any Pictures?

July 16, 2008

Have you taken any good pictures of the conference or of the city since you’ve been in D.C.?  Got a great picture of the Lincoln Memorial?  Maybe some pictures of some of the speakers?

If so, we want them!  No, no…we don’t actually want them all – we just want you to share them with other conference participants.  If you have taken any pictures and care to share them with your colleagues, head over to Flickr and upload your photos.  Use your personal account if you already have one; if you don’t already have one, create a new account and upload them to your account.  All that we ask is that you tag your photos with the term “socialmediagovernment” – by doing this, you’ll ensure that your pictures will get picked up by the Flickr RSS feed that I’ve inserted at the bottom right of this blog.  This feed is tied this particular tag and not to an individual account.  This allows EVERYONE to upload their own photos using their own account and still share related photos.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to all of the photos from this year’s conference, and here’s my own personal Flickr site.


User Adoption and Enterprise 2.0

June 23, 2008

So you’ve rolled out blogs and wikis internally behind your organization’s firewall and everyone is excited to see swarms of employees blogging and creating a “your organization-ipedia” that will put the traditional Intranet to shame.  Months later, you’re still waiting…still looking for that critical mass of users…still trying to get management on-board with the idea of blogs…still trying to get people to just, you know, use these tools!

What’s the matter???

It could be that you haven’t enabled something called “viral expansion loops.”  It’s a direct marketing technique that was highlighted in a recent issue of Fast Company, where there was an article on Ning, a social networking site where users create their own personal social networks.  You may not have yet have heard of Ning, but I’m betting that you will soon.

“In the early days, not everyone knew what to make of Ning. The company spent three years building out the site’s underlying platform; a year into that process, it released a couple dozen social applications in order to begin testing and refining what they had made. Those applications, which Bianchini readily admits were “very simple,” led Michael Arrington to post an entry on his TechCrunch blog entitled “Ning RIP?”: “The reality of Ning is that it has lost whatever coolness it had, no one uses it, and Ning is going to have a very hard time getting people’s attention.”

Now, with more than 230,000 unique social networks, Ning estimates that by New Year’s Eve 2010, they will host some 4 million social networks serving up billions of page views daily.  So what’s the big deal about Ning, and for that matter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any one of the dozens of social networking sites that are out there.  The reason Fast Company did a cover story on Ning, and the reason why I’m mentioning it here is that Ning’s business strategy is built around “viral loops.”

Ning’s business model involves:

“…incorporating virality into the functionality of the product. In English, that means Ning grows because each new user begets more users. Every time someone sets up a social network, he has no choice but to invite friends, family, colleagues, and like-minded strangers to sign on as well. The company calculates that each person signed up for a Ning group is worth, on average, 2 people, compounded daily: On day two, that individual brings in 4 group members and on day three, 8; within a week, she has brought in 128 people. Which is how Ning has been able to grow at a daily average of more than .4% and add 500 new groups a day, doubling roughly every 137 days.”

Each white dot represents one member of a specific social network on Ning. Each starburst defines the extent and pattern of that member's invitations to new users to networks across the platform.

Applied to the adoption of social media within an organization or within the federal government, this concept has the potential to help increase the odds of a successful social media implementation.  Think about it…one employees sits in a briefing where they hear about the new social media platform.  They go back to their desk and check it out.  Assuming that the tool has been built properly, meets his/her needs, and is user-friendly, what’s the next thing that this employee is likely to do?  Tell his/her officemate?  the people he eats lunch with?  What if this process was instead done virtually and instead of telling an table full of colleagues in lunchroom, he/she was easily able to publicize it to hundreds of people using his Outlook address book?  You’ve now turned this one employee into a marketing tool, capable of using word-of-mouth to reach hundreds more.

Ever wonder why it hasn’t been applied more often behind the firewall?  Is it because of a lack of confidence in the technology (after all, this would also allow employees to actively criticize the tools)?  Maybe it’s because of the traditional top-down thinking that employees will use whatever tool the boss tells them to?  Maybe it’s just simply that this functionality just wasn’t built into the technology?

Whatever the reason, successful adoption of social media behind the firewall requires the use of these viral expansion loops.  It requires users to actively recruit other users.  It requires that the technology be, well, social.


Leveraging social media for collaboration

June 10, 2008

The Social Media for Government Conference is now just over a month away and things are heating up, literally and figuratively. Hopefully the weather won’t be as sweltering as has been in the northeast lately.

To help get us excited about social media’s potential, I wanted to point to three articles that highlight how government is using social media to enhance collaboration. You here often how government is working in silos. Social media is breaking down the silos, propelling government to actually share information, not only within agencies but with other agencies. More telling is that the intelligence community has been the leader in social media adoption.

These are courtesy of our friends at Federal Computer Week:

  • DIA Embraces Web 2.0 – The Defense Intelligence Agency took a cue from popular Web sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia when it built Web 2.0 tools to facilitate faster and better collaboration among its analysts.
  • CIA Works to Break Info-Sharing Barriers – The intelligence community established Intellipedia in April 2006. Since then it has grown to about 27,000 articles, more than 20,000 registered users and 152,000 active pages. The community also launched a version of Intellipedia for sensitive but unclassified information about a year ago. It is moving more slowly than the classified version, Dennehy said, but is starting to pick up. (Since this article, the number of users is now at approx 30,000)
  • TSA’s IdeaFactory – When the Transportation Security Administration decided to build a facility for employee forums, it didn’t search for a construction site or lease office space. Instead, it turned to online collaboration tools for its workforce dispersed at airports nationwide.

Where have you seen social media work for government? Many agencies have at least deployed RSS, some even podcasts. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll explore how social media is being used in the commerical and government sectors. We’ll get into the good, bad and the ugly.