The benefits of implementing a community advocate program

July 29th, 2010 by Gia Lyons 3 comments »

I’m in the midst of moving beyond soft launch of our one-month-old advocate program for the Jive Community, called Jive Champions. One benefit to such programs is that these members routinely share their thought leadership, expertise, and guidance within and beyond the community.

Here are just a few gems the Jive Champions have shared since we started the program.

By Jamie Pappas, Social Media Strategist, EMC

By Greg Lowe, Social Media Strategist, Alcatel-Lucent

Discussion with Claire Flanagan, Director KM and Enterprise Social Business Collaboration and Communities Strategy, CSC

By Roy Wilsker, Senior Director Technology Planning, Covidien

By Tracy Maurer, System Engineer, United Business Media

By Ted Hopton, Community Manager, United Business Media

By Jennifer Bouoni, Director Interactive Communications, Manheim

The Jive Community has so many more excellent contributors, too! A few of them should expect an email from me soon, inviting them to join the Jive Champions. 😉

Becoming a Social Business, One Process at a Time

July 13th, 2010 by Gia Lyons No comments »

Originally posted on Edelman Digital

Over the past couple of years, I’ve worked with several clients to plan and implement employee- and customer-facing social business initiatives. I’ve found it ironic that, while many enterprises decide to implement social business software and encourage social business behaviors in an effort to break down silos between employees and employees, employees and customers, and employees and the social Web, they approach their implementations from a very silo’ed perspective. For example, employee-focused pilots tend to take root in a business unit, then IT and/or Employee Communications teams take over when it grows into a strategic initiative. And in the mean time, Marketing and Corporate Communications are leading a completely separate customer- and social Web-facing social business initiative. The left and right hands often don’t meet until their procurement office gets the purchase orders.

From Silos > To Strategic Focus

However, if you can somehow remove these organizational-chart blinders sooner rather than later, the big picture becomes clearer. You can focus on the full business processes you’re trying to evolve, and all of the people who need to participate in social business transformation – employees, prospects, customers, and partners. You’ll then have a better chance of identifying the “from” you wish to leave behind, and the “to” you want to become.

In my new role as Communities Program Manager at Jive, I’m responsible for infusing existing business practices with social business behaviors (among other tasks). So, we focus first on the process and who enacts it before we figure out where social business software can improve or innovate how we do business.

Here are a few business practices we’ve evolved into social business practices, categorized by how most companies are measured:

REVENUE GROWTH

Attracting Leads: From Static Website Content > To Interactive Thought Leadership

To attract more leads, we’ve augmented our static website content – case studies, whitepapers, customer webcasts, etc. – with content from influential and, well, pretty damn smart employees, customers and partners in our customer-facing Jive Community. Most of these mavens and connectors are part of our newly launched Jive Champions program. But, while the content is great, it’s the willingness of these Champions to interact that puts the zing in this particular sauce.

We routinely market this thought leadership content in the social Web. We, of course, “FaceTweetIn” it, but we also use social media monitoring to listen for and then engage folks who are interested in our or our competitors’ products and services. My colleague, Mike Fraietta, listens to 100% of the Twitter stream, plus everything else out there, ready to share our community’s thought leadership when appropriate (he’s one of our Jive Champions, so he dispenses advice and shares his experiences along the way).

I also make sure to market this content and its resulting discussions to our employees in our internal social networking software environment. Sales, Support, Services, Product Management, and our executive staff are very much plugged into our prospects and customers, which means they can propagate our thought leaders’ content in a very targeted fashion to progress a sales opportunity, or increase customer penetration.

We have another social business practice focused specifically on progressing a sales opportunity that includes integration between Salesforce.com, our employee-facing Jive SBS instance, and our customer-facing Jive SBS instance. That’s another blog post, however.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Crisis Management: From Not Knowing > To Proactive Engagement

Before we had social media monitoring capabilities, the only way we’d know about a brand-related crisis was if someone accidently stumbled across a blog post, Facebook group, or tweet. We’ve evolved that practice into listening to the social Web, and proactively engaging our prospects and customers before sentiments get too out of hand. Now, when our brand starts to take hits in the social Web or in our customer-facing community, we post the negative items in our employee community so that we can get the right eyeballs and actions on it immediately.  And, we join the negative conversation as soon as possible, offering to listen and take their feedback back to our colleagues.

I think my favorite part about this scenario, however, is that our customers have come to our rescue on our behalf, both in our customer community and in the social Web. Many of these customers are now part of our Jive Champions program.

INNOVATION

Developing Products: From Bug Tracking > To Interactive Ideation

We’ve always loved hearing from our customers about what our products need to become to make their work lives better. But, collecting their feedback through support cases, then submitting it into feature/bug tracking software where nobody but our engineers saw it didn’t leverage the collective innovation our customers could produce. We evolved this process into one that promotes interactive ideation. Customers now submit, comment, and vote on product ideas in our customer community, playing off one another’s ideas to refine what they really want. Our product managers join these discussions to ask for more clarity, run initial product plans by our customers, and learn at a glance what the top ideas – i.e., the most wanted ideas – are. They sometimes bridge specific discussions into our employee community so they can collaborate with product engineers “behind the scenes” before responding to customers.

And, just to make sure our customers know they’re being heard, our product managers periodically blog in the customer community about the status of specific ideas and how they relate to our roadmap, which I then FaceTweetIn, naturally.

None of these From > To’s would have happened if we hadn’t gained buy-in from executives, mid-level managers, and most importantly, the people enacting the practices. Here’s the engagement plan framework we used to identify, incent, empower, and engage key actors in these processes.

My next big task is to measure how all this social business activity correlates to any changes in key business metrics. That, too, is another blog post.

My Burton Group Catalyst Presentation

July 6th, 2010 by Gia Lyons No comments »

I’ll be presenting the following at Burton Group Catalyst Conference in San Diego July 28 at 9:45 am Pacific, in Sapphire M room:

Design, for Community’s Sake! (Note: I specialize in lame titles.)

Overview:

No matter whether you’re implementing an online community environment for employees, contractors, business-to-business, channels, partners, prospects, customers, or all of the above, design it differently than your typical intranet, internet, or portal websites. Why? To promote continual engagement.

In this session, you’ll learn five good practices for designing an engaging community site: 1) Identify Community Characteristics, 2) Determine Member Wants, 3) Balance Corporate and Member Content, 4) Express Site Identity, and 5) Add Concierge Services.

You also learn how to avoid common pitfalls, including one-way broadcasting, over-branding, under-positioning with other applications and websites, and more.

Finally, we will discuss how to check the health of your existing community’s design. We will take requests from the audience to review existing community sites that are publicly accessible, and answer questions, such as: Is the site’s identity expressed clearly and does it reflect overall community objectives, characteristics, and its members’ wants and needs? Is there a good balance between company and member content?

While this is based on the Jive SBS Design Practices series, it applies to any community or collaborative platform, so if you’re at the conference, please stop by!

Win a free half-day workshop with me!

June 24th, 2010 by Gia Lyons No comments »

Even though I’ve moved into a new role at Jive Software, I’m still providing consulting services to a few customers.

If you sign up for the Jive SBS Leadership Roundtable webcast with YUM!, Intel, and Forrester, you could win a half-day workshop with me. I promise it’ll be engaging, useful, and most importantly, actionable.

Here’s the blurb:

One webcast attendee will be selected to win a free half-day strategy workshop with Gia Lyons. Gia recently left Jive Strategy Consulting, where she advised some of Jive’s most successful customers, including CSC and Alcatel-Lucent, to become the Jive Communities Program Manager. But, she continues to provide consulting services to select prospects and customers. She will help apply Jive’s proven methodology and experience from our veteran Strategic Consulting services team — implementing a social strategy is much more than just choosing the right software. Whether it’s developing a business case for your community, mapping out your community’s strategy, or implementing new tactics for growth, Gia will help bring your social business initiative to life.

CSC‘s rate of adoption between their May 18, 2009 full launch date and June 15, 2010 was about 4,000 employees per month, out of approximately 95,000 employees. Claire Flanagan (@cflanagan), Director Enterprise Social Collaboration at CSC, shared in June that C3, CSC’s employee community powered by Jive SBS, was at 50,000 active users. Read how CSC implemented the plan they developed based on their Jive Strategy Consulting session.

Alcatel-Lucent‘s rate of adoption since their mid-April 2010 full launch of Engage, powered by Jive SBS, is at around 5,000 employees per month, according to Greg Lowe (@Greg2dot0), Social Media Strategist at Alcatel-Lucent.

I’ve also worked with several national and global health care organizations, as well as clients in retail, manufacturing, and consumer goods, for both employee and customer-facing communities.

Here are a couple of topics we cover in our sessions:

What’s with all this Chatter business?

June 21st, 2010 by Gia Lyons 11 comments »

I’m confused.

I just returned from an excellent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, where I got the chance to hear several Jive customers (and non-customers) share their experiences, insight, and points of view on stages, in pubs, and on a boat. There wasn’t so much as a peep about Salesforce.com’s impending announcement of Chatter. SF wasn’t even at the conference, as far as I could tell. (Jive, Microsoft, IBM, SocialText and other major SBS players were, however.)

Enterprise 2.0 folks seem to be ignoring Salesforce.com’s entry into the social business software space. Is it because many are already down the road with a chosen solution, or have a couple in their sights and are currently deciding which to select? I mean, who’s still waiting around for their vertical vendors to bolt social on?

I talked to a few folks about this, who I cannot quote directly due to legal reasons, and here are three points of view that pretty much sum it up.

Salesforce.com’s bolted-on social features aren’t designed for enterprise-wide networking, innovation, or collaboration.

This gentleman explained how he’s been in IT for 22 years, most of them spent at his global company of 400,000+ employees. He said that, with all of his vertical app vendors – CRM, HRIS, ERP, etc. – adding social features to their toolset, he’d still be faced with the task of stitching them all together before they could “get enough traction with employees across the globe to reach a tipping point. It wouldn’t be of any value otherwise.” That’s why he’s looking at a few of the major SBS players mentioned above, instead.

And, since employees have been used to going into those vertical apps for specific tasks all these years, it would be a farce to think that folks could suddenly shift mental gears from, “I go into CRM to record sales data for sales management tracking and reports” to, “I go into CRM to find experts, collaborate, and innovate the way I work.” And really, even if a mental shift happened, it would only be for those who already use the damn thing. Where’s R&D? Where’s Engineering? Where’s Legal? HR? Professional Services? They’re not in a CRM app.

York Baur, chief marketing officer with the TAS Group, seems to agree.

“What Salesforce is trying to do is encourage conversation among salespeople, whereas what Jive is trying to do is broader,” Baur explained. Specifically, Jive aims “to allow any employee to get filtered information — to let the cream rise out of all this vast amount of communication that takes place.”

Salesforce.com is also skewed toward small to mid-sized companies, whereas Jive is oriented to larger ones, Baur noted.

~ Social Net Aggregator Pushes Jive Talking in the Enterprise

Chatter is too late to the game.

I asked another gentleman, who’ll be deciding between Jive and a worthy competitor in a few weeks for eventual deployment to about 130,000 world-wide employees, about his take on Chatter. He simply said,

It’s not my fault they’re late to the party. I’m not deploying 1.0 of anything, and I don’t have time to wait for them to mature.

Word.

We’ve already got an enterprise-wide social business platform that does what Chatter looks like it will do.

Another gentleman I spoke with works in a regulated industry, in a company of about 45,000 employees, and has full deployments of Jive and SharePoint, and are in the process of deploying Salesforce now. He said that many have asked him about Chatter, saying,

“Can we do what Chatter does in [company branded Jive software platform]?” He tells them, “Yes.” They shrug and return to their social business as usual.

The analysts have related opinions.

Jeremiah Owyang and R. “Ray” Wang of Altimeter group said way back in November, in response to Salesforce.com’s social web product announcements  (which I think applies to Chatter as well):

Technology is only 20% of any enterprise change, the other 80% is culture, process, roles, and strategy change –key requirements that Salesforce is not equipped to provide.

~ Salesforce Pushes Social CRM Technology –But Don’t Expect Companies To Be Successful With Tools Alone

Since I’ve spent the last 18 months neck-deep in Jive customers’ cultures, processes, roles, and strategy change activities, I can tell you that it’s not a trivial 80%. (Related: See A Peek into EMC’s Social Business Journey by Jamie Pappas, Social Media Strategist at EMC, for a taste of what it takes to change an enterprise.)

Finally, I pinged Mike Gotta, a principal analyst at Gartner with more than 20 years’ experience in this space. He said,

[Chatter] will be good for SalesForce faithful. They think SF discovered fire. Am I missing something?

Nope. Not that I can see.

I got a new job.

May 17th, 2010 by Gia Lyons 15 comments »

Starting June 1, I’ll be the Jive Communities Program Manager, reporting to Ben Kiker, Jive CMO. For those who’ve been with me from the beginning of my employment with Jive… back to the future, eh?

Instead of part-time-when-I’ve-got-time co-manager of Jivespace, it’ll be my puppy, full time. This means a lot less travel, and a lot more involvement with the thing I love the most – Jive’s community of prospects, customers, and partners.

We have a team of passionate, freaking-smart individuals – both Jivers and customers – who have already been involved in keeping our Jive communities’ fires burning, and I’m excited to work with them all!

More later…

Why SBS systems and intranets are(n’t) merging (yet)

May 12th, 2010 by Gia Lyons 12 comments »

John Tropea recently commented,

Anyway, I always wonder why platforms like SBS are not the Intranet itself eg. Thoughtfarmer.

I have several clients who, in fact, are using Jive SBS as their intranet. Usually, they see SBS as the chance to collapse multiple intranets obtained through acquisitions into a single piazza, or to breathe new life into their traditional intranet, or to make content publishing much easier.

The issue, though, is when Corporate Communications needs to ensure communication delivery to individuals based on their employee type: managers see ABCD, contractors see A, European employees see BC, etc. (Actually, this is also true for more stuff, beyond the Corporate Voice stuff). They want to lock down a portion of the user’s landing page. This is something traditional, portal-based solutions from Days of Yore offer, but typically requires customization in SBS systems, where users have complete control over their landing page.

Another item we run into is that traditional intranets might include application integration in the form of, “hey, let’s put the top 3-5 actions a user is allowed to perform in our ERP/CRM/HRIS/whatever system (e.g., “Modify Customer Record”) and data relevant to the user based on their permissions in that system into a portlet/gadget/web part/widget, so that users can use them directly from the internet, but they can click through to dive into the full application if they need to.”

SBS systems approach this integration from a different angle, namely, “let’s bring all the activity going on in those applications (e.g., “John Tropea modified the Acme, Inc. customer record”) into the stream of activities scrolling by the user’s eyeballs in SBS. They can click through if they want to.” The integration is starting to go the other way, too. When you pop open your CRM/HRIS/ERP/Whatever app, you could start seeing messages such as, “John Tropea linked to this record in a discussion.”

So, what I think will really make SBS systems the eventual de facto intranet, beyond the social business interaction aspect, is when they can deliver directed content based on member type, make it stupid-simple to collect activity streams from other apps based on the user’s permissions and interests, and make it stupid-simple to surface actions and data from other apps, all in a way that makes sense to the user.

That last phrase is the kicker.

Update May 21

I’ve just learned that some have read this post and misinterpreted it to mean that Jive SBS cannot serve the needs of those who do, in fact, need to ensure corporate communications delivery to specific member types, or need to integrate with different enterprise applications. My opinions address the out-of-box functionality of the general category of applications called “social business software”, but I should have known better. Who uses anything out of the box these days (unless it’s an Apple mobile device)?

Rest assured, we have customers who have done both, and more, because Jive is probably one of the most extensible platforms out there.

Jive’s ease of use, platform flexibility, and customer orientation made its focused solution the ideal choice for our Ourspace initiative,” said Wolfgang Jastrowski, Swiss Re IT Director. “The extensible nature of the Jive SBS solution gives us ample flexibility as we continue to build out our platform and its capabilities. We’re especially excited about Jive’s new initiative to surface content and activities from almost any content management system (CMS) inside Jive SBS, making it possible to realize even greater business value through the integration of social media collaboration with content.

~ Jive Social Business Software Improves Responsiveness and Productivity at Swiss Re

How to position social business software with other enterprise apps

May 10th, 2010 by Gia Lyons 11 comments »

I routinely assist clients in positioning the use of social business software (SBS) with their other enterprise communication, collaboration, and networking applications and activities. This laundry list usually includes things like:

  • content management systems,
  • team sites,
  • the company intranet, and
  • the employee directory.

I’ve lost count of how many have asked for a Jive SBS vs. SharePoint “best use” comparison chart, for example.

But, more often, SBS systems “compete” with what goes on in:

  • email,
  • instant messaging,
  • conference calls, and
  • face-to-face meetings.

As my friend Roy Wilsker puts it, SBS addresses all the messy collaboration that goes on before some thing becomes a Something.

Or something like that.

So, I ask you to check out this diagram. The intent is to help folks figure out how to use SBS systems most optimally, and in the most complementary fashion with all the other stuff they use. Please, look beyond my obvious lack of graphical artistic talent (I clearly love Skittles), and tell me what’s missing, what’s confusing, what you like, whatever’s on your mind.

Jive SBS Design Practices, Part 4

March 11th, 2010 by Gia Lyons 1 comment »

The following is a result of Jive Strategic Consulting Practice’s extensive work with many large clients who have deployed Jive Social Business Software. It is Part 4 of a four-part series.

In Part 1, we explained how to use Barry’s Community Flower to determine the top three characteristics of your community.

In Part 2, we discussed the importance of identifying community members’ wants.

In Part 3, we added the characteristics to the member wants to define your community’s overall expression. Now, we’ll determine members’ activity flow through your site.

“What happens when I click that?”

Once you’ve got your first landing page designed – by the way, you should do this entire process for every important landing page throughout your community site (e.g., All Content, Your View, major spaces) – it’s time to figure out where the member is taken when they start clicking around.

It helps if you’ve used Jive SBS as an end user before you do this.

How much concierge service do members need?

First, determine the level of concierge service your community’s design needs to offer. If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel with concierge services, you’ll know what I’m talking about. These patient people help you get tickets to the theater. They walk you to the corner, and point down the street you should take. In some cases, I’ve had to ask them where the hell the elevators are. In short, they hold their guests’ hands whenever necessary.

Your design’s concierge service level should be based on members’ overall familiarity with online community and/or social networking concepts, not to mention basic technical savvy.

For example, if you’re migrating an existing community to Jive SBS, members are already familiar with online community concepts, and won’t need very much holding of their hands. But, if you’re unleashing all this social business software goodness on what one of my clients calls “the crusties” – more traditional people with vasts amounts of experience, but new to community concepts – you’ll want to ratchet up the level of concierge service.

If it helps, score your members for the following attributes. The lower the overall attribute score, the more hand-holding you need to design.

* Use Forrester’s Social Technology Profile Tool to take a wild stab at this attribute.

In my personal consulting experience, I’ve found that many have little patience for learning any new technology, especially if participation is voluntary, as so many online communities are.

If it’s not obvious in five seconds or less what they’re supposed to do and how it’s going to make their work/life easier, they leave.

How to map activity flow

1:  Identify the call to action(s) that expresses your primary characteristic.

For example, for Relationships, a call to action might be “Introduce Yourself.”

2:  Decide what happens when a member clicks the call to action.

For a savvy audience, “Introduce Yourself” might take the member to the current month’s discussion thread that asks people to introduce themselves. The member would read the thread, then click Reply to add his/her introductory comment.

For a newbie audience, “Introduce Yourself” might take the member to a space that functions as a lobby.

  • Purpose: space name is “All about Profiles”
  • Call to Action: “Complete your Profile” link that opens the member’s profile in edit mode
  • Motivation: description of the benefits of business networking and how it relates to better individual performance
  • Example: a member’s profile is featured; profile guidelines are explained; link that opens help content about how to complete a profile

3:  Decide what the member’s next step is.

Continuing the newbie route, let’s say the member clicks the link to view help information about how to complete their profile. Make sure there is a link in that content that opens their profile in edit mode.

In short, ensure that the activity flow results in the member completing the call to action.

4:  Decide how the member gets to the next call to action.

Now, how do you get the member to answer the second call, or at least give them the opportunity to do so? This is why I’m a fan of adding the top two to four calls to action in the theme. That way, no matter what nether regions of the community a member finds himself in, he can always click “Collaborate” in the theme, for example. This might take him to a lobby-type space (e.g., “About Groups”), where he can answer the Collaboration call, understand why he should do so, and see how it’s done.

You could also be a bit more obvious by creating a custom widget named, “I want to…” that’s full of verby phrases voiced from the member’s point of view. If you get a developer to create this as a plugin, the widget would be available everywhere a widget can be placed. If you don’t, just create it as a Jive document somewhere, then use the View Document widget to refer to it wherever you want.

What else?

Test it. Be that newbie. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Or, call my mom and ask if she can test it. If she can figure it out, chances are your members will, too.

Well, I hope this helps all y’all. And for those of you who have a Jive strategy session in your future, consider all of this homework.

Call to action

It would be ironic if I didn’t include one.

If you’re interested in engaging Jive Strategic Consulting, please contact your Jive Sales Executive or Services Account Manager, or contact Jive Software to learn more.

Jive SBS Design Practices, Part 3

March 10th, 2010 by Gia Lyons No comments »

The following is a result of Jive Strategic Consulting Practice’s extensive work with many large clients who have deployed Jive Social Business Software. It is Part 3 of a four-part series.

In Part 1, we explained how to use Barry’s Community Flower to determine the top three characteristics of your community.

In Part 2, we discussed the importance of identifying community members’ wants.

Express it!

Now that you have your top three characteristics identified in Part 1, and list of member wants from Part 2, let’s put them together to create your community’s overall expression. Once you do this, you’ll have successfully defined the boundaries of your community design!

Define the following elements:

  • Purpose: “What’s this site all about in two seconds or less? Because that’s how much time you have my attention before I split.”
  • Calls to Action: “OK, I’m here. What do you want me to do? Use clickable verbs to make it obvious.”
  • Motivation:  “What’s in it for me if I answer your calls to action? Is it what I want?”
  • Example: “What behavior do you want me to model? Give me an example.”

This example of expressive elements is based on the top three characteristics of Relationships, Sharing, and Groups. It is for a public community.

How do you design Jive SBS based on all of this?

Finally, we start talking about the technology.

Expression elements can help you decide the following:

Example

Nutshell

Your community’s Top Three Characteristics, member wants, and expressive elements can make it easier to design your site’s overall identity, and keep the design scope from creeping out of control.

If it doesn’t fit with your characteristics, member wants, or expressive elements, it doesn’t belong in your community.

What’s next?

In part 4, we’ll discuss how to map all this design goodness to Jive SBS capabilities.