Don’t blame the tools

Today, the Grammarly blog ran this image as the main bit of a simple post, noting the downside of short form communication:

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image credit via Grammarly at: http://ift.tt/1i2H7lH

As you may have guessed from the title of my post here, I disagree. But more specifically I believe it is they way we misuse the communication tools available to us for the wrong conversations. This hearkens back to one of my earlier posts on my business blog “Notes from Rational Support” during our drive to work outside the inbox: Using the right tools for the right conversations

In that post I outline how using open and transparent communication tools like blogs, wikis, and forums to collaborate on ideas before transitioning them into actionable work can be a wonderful method for building an efficient workforce. More importantly, however, is that using the right tools for the right conversations aide with improving communication all around.

Use the tools you do have available to consciously move those conversations away from short-form, email, or closed systems to the more open and transparent mediums and you’ll see your communication improve in an almost passive manner. Make use of forums and wikis and blogs to collaborate and drive your work forward, use texts for simple quick updates/questions, and of course pick up the phone and call someone when the conversation requires that deeper connection and free-flowing discussion.

Texting isn’t the issue with failed communication. The issue is using texts for the wrong conversations and not moving those conversation to the right medium when texting begins to cause confusion.

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1i2H7C8

Stag Party – a Dalmore tasting

LA Scotch Club – ClubMez Dalmore tasting and paired dinner at the Far Bar

EventFlyerWell that was a mouthful, and so was the evening.  I’ve always liked Dalmore, but it never made a distinct impression on me until now – and now I even know why. Through conversation I learned Dalmore chill-filters and uses coloring additives. I find the later more disturbing that the former – but it does explain the uniformity of color across the six drams offered.

And for the taste – while chill filtering can remove some of the particles and oils that can add distinction to a dram, I learned every bottle of Dalmore has been  in at least two barrels, American oak, then sherry.  I think this tradition is what leads to the sameness of flavor throughout expressions . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The setup:

TheLineUp

The plan was to introduce each dram, taste it straight then try the offered food pairing. With one ounce pours, this will require some restraint, and since the food was set-up as a buffet, a little more exercise than I’d planned – but it worked out okay.

I’m of two minds on the provided mat; while I like having reference material, I don’t like being told what one should perceive on the nose and or palette. I like to judge a taste completely blind so I don’t look the flavors mentioned in the descriptions as I make my notes.

Dram the first – 12 year http://ift.tt/1tEEcZr
Matured for an initial nine years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks before being carefully divided. One half continues its maturation in bourbon barrels, the other half is transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks. Complex, yet balanced, The Dalmore 12 year old is the epitome of the Dalmore house style.

12WithSoupA nice medium gold, and a mild nose of citrus honey and wood. The taste is soft, with a little burn that is a slightly disturbing counterpoint to almost floral tones.  There is a whisper of citrus, but it’s gone as soon as you perceive it. It wants to be complex, but it’s just not there, the few different notes are disparate and when the get close they are more likely to combat one another instead of layering harmoniously.

This was served with a Beef Cocino, and the fatty broth and rich flavors brought out the honey notes and otherwise complemented the dram nicely.

This was a nice start, but I found it a short and simple dram, gone almost before you are finished tasting it.

Second Offering – 15 year http://ift.tt/1rmUT9T
“Twelve years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, then a three year finish in three different sherry woods – Amoroso, Apostoles and Matusalem oloroso. A robust, yet elegant spirit.”

15WithBeef This is a deeper gold, with thick legs. The nose is still sweet, with notes of apples, oranges and honey in the background – odd that for all that wood it’s finished in; I don’t pick up any of it on the nose. It is softer than the 12, more fruit than wood, but I lose the sweetness I liked in the 12 and on the nose of this one. Overall more harmonious that the 12, but not my favorite.

This was paired with a “aussie pie” which is a beef pasty – this dram wants something lighter, with more layers of flavors, maybe a chicken Florentine, or stuffed fish.

 

Last age statement, the 18 year old http://ift.tt/1rmUT9U
Matured initially for 14 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the whisky is then transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry wood for a further four years. Bottled at 43% alcohol by volume, The Dalmore 18 year old offers a provocative and intense taste experience with an enduring aftertaste of cinnamon and nutmeg.

As I was holding each up to the light, I noticed colors all seem to blend together – this is when my friend mentioned Dalmore’s use of colorings. Makes sense – look at the lineup side-by-side:

Dalmore Lineup

from Dalmore’s own site

I don’t think you can get that kind of tonal uniformity without creating it. I’m sure using the similar barrels in all expressions helps, but still, I’d be curious what these look like straight out of the barrel, or rather barrels.18WithDuck

The nose is like oatmeal, a little nut and spice mixed with the grain, there may be wood in the background, but I’m not picking up much.

This is the first layered flavor I’ve had tonight, unfortunately the second layer is burn. This starts of soft and sweet – a little dried fruit, and little vanilla . . and then your mouth is full of moonshine for a moment.  Once that passes you get a beautiful finish of spice and nutshells that linger in the mouth like chicory coffee.  Food – a duck empanada was offered – suppresses that fiery middle layer and turns this into something I can drink all night.

 

 

The Reserved Dram – Cigar Malt Reserve – http://ift.tt/1rmUVOV
The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve benefits from a judicious selection of aged stocks drawn from casks of three types: American white oak ex-bourbon casks, 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques.
Bottled at 44% alcohol by volume, the body, structure and character of this extraordinary expression is the perfect complement to a fine cigar.

This was in place of the Grand Reserve on the mat – so I got my blind tasting since I hadn’t touched the handout beyond taking this picture:

Cigar malt

This is a darker gold than the others, almost a mahogany. The nose promised me notes of caramel, chocolate and peaches. And the taste is just what I like: smoky without smoke, fruity without sweetness, caramel notes lingering on the mouth,  a rich and smooth melody that hums a while after finishing the taste.

CigarWithLambCurse the Los Angeles legislation, but now that it was mentioned to go with a cigar, I want one. It’s funny, I got quite a bit of burn from the 43% 18-year, but this, at 44%, had almost none.

The roasted lamb is very nice, but it’s not the right thing for this dram – I’d save this for dessert – something sweet and equally rich.

 

 

 

Hail to the King – King Alexander IIIhttp://ift.tt/1tEEcZJ
Crafted to honour the act of saving Scotland’s King in 1263, this expression unites six specially selected casks housing spirit of perfect maturity. Whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem oloroso sherry wood, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques are brought together in perfect harmony. Each cask gives its own flavour notes, delivering a unique complex single malt whisky revered by connoisseurs.

This was the crown jewel of the night, two people at my table said they were here just for this dram, and hinted that one can not get it in the states.  The expression spends time in six different woods . . this should be a soft and complex expression . . .

KingAlex

Or not.  The color seems flat and next to the others – I’m not sure what bottle they used for the promotional image – maybe it’s the full bottle, or the black background – but in this glass it looked pale. The nose has the similar sweetness as the others at the core, but highlighted by grass and grain with whispers of berries and cream.

The taste is almost not there. I took a moment to clear my palette and start again with the nose, but the taste is very faint . . soft and gentle, very easy to drink straight, but not very complicated.  It reminds me of an Irish with the soft green notes. It’s a fine dram, but I don’t think I’d pay $300 for the bottle. Pass the Cigar Malt back here, please.King Alex

Oh yes, it was paired with a very good éclair, iced in chocolate and filled with pastry cream; a delicious end to the dinner, but far too rich for this soft, whispery expression.

 

 

 

 

 

I ended the evening talking whiskey and barrel-aged beers with the host, and pouring myself another dram of the Cigar Malt .  . really, this was the standout dram. I may have to invest in a bottle and get together with some smokers and see if and how it enhances that experience.

Any takers? ;>

 

from The 3 Drunken Celts http://ift.tt/1hlLQmq

Information is currency; Privacy doesn’t exist

IMG_1955Earlier today one of my dear friends shared this article and tagged me for comment: Facebook Knows Everything About You, And If You Don’t Believe Us Here’s Proof

The article details out how UbiSoft’s marketing for their new game inadvertently shows how much Facebook knows about you. This is done via their Digital Shadow site after asking you to connect to it via Facebook authentication in which you grant access to your data as housed in the social network. The article paints a F.U.D. based theme (fear uncertainty, and doubt) around an individual’s privacy and how they may want to change their settings within Facebook to tighten things down.

Here’s the thing, though: there is no privacy on the internet. Security settings and custom privacy tweaks are speed bumps at best, and theater at worst. Like a glass window next to your home’s front door, any motivated attacker can bypass these settings with some small effort. While the addition of privacy settings are indeed necessary and effective to avoid the most common of breaches, they have also worked to the larger cultures disadvantage by allowing us to be a bit more complacent and reliant upon tools to do the job of privacy control. The best privacy control you have is the ability to choose what information you share.

Be careful, though. What you share may initially seem innocuous and irrelevant to most security or privacy concerns, but as the article above and the site referenced, there are things that can be inferred and connected across the data you share to build a view of your life which you may not have intended to be visible. Simple things like your location when combined with a job title can tell me a fair estimate of income as well as likelihood of work schedules and how valuable your digital life may be. The site does a good job of holding up a mirror to anyone sharing via Facebook and how that information can be connected to build a larger, perhaps unintended picture.

What does this really mean for you, as a participant on social media channels? It means you need to make informed choices. Understand that information is a form of currency used to trade for access to these sites and deeper connections to your networks of people. In my case, I trade quite a bit of information to maintain my connections with you while also working to build domain expertise in my career as a social business strategist. I make very specific choices about how open and transparent I am with what I share via any social channel, knowing that information is at best only obscured by my privacy settings and likely will be seen by many more people I’d not intended or expected. (Oddly, it is one of the lessons I’ve learned from blogging for so long now: you may be writing for one audience, but there’s likely other audiences reading and connecting… pay attention to them as well, as there may be wonderful opportunity for growth when you identify those unknown audiences).

We can’t trust companies to maintain our privacy for us. We need to take personal responsibility for our own information, what and how we share. While this may seem like a call to lock down your profiles, it isn’t. Rather, it is a call to become more informed and to begin thinking before we share and making the choice to use our information to pay for access or connection instead of just assuming it all comes for free. There’s a cost to social interaction, and what we are willing to pay will likely differ for every individual. Knowing that cost is the first step before paying the toll by sharing your information.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1fqxc9n

Customer service is easy, so why is it so hard?

The principles are easy: set the right expectations, then meet or exceed them and your clients will be happy at the least, and become champions for your product and/or company if you’re really awesome.

So why do so many companies fail at providing stellar customer service? Because they set expectations to exceed what they are capable of delivering upon and unable to communicate appropriately. Unfortunately I am experiencing this first hand with a company presently and will use them as an example of how simple it can be to create negative clients instead of building champions:

In November, 2013 I ordered a product which I thought too good to be true: the 10 year hoodie. For twice what I normally spend on a hoodie ($100 versus my normal; $45) I figured that if it lasted twice as long, I’d have come out even, and any longer then I’d be truly sold on the product. Since my hoodies last me about one year, I figured a ten-year hoodie was a pipe dream but worth the gamble as it came with a repair guarantee. So, I clicked checkout and waited…

When I received delivery, I was impressed with the quality of construction and comfort of the fabric. It was soft, but sturdy, with key reinforcements to ensure longevity. So, in mid November I put it into service as my ‘work’ hoodie, wearing it daily at home as I worked my day job. I never wore it outside, so it only saw desk time and couch time as the main activities. Which is to say it wasn’t put through any heavy-duty use that would be adversely rough on a garment.

You will then understand my surprise that after only two months it began to show signs of wear (shown below) which lead to failure after only two and a half months. So, I contacted the company on March 5th with the following image to ask about the process for warranty/guarantee repairs.

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I’ll point out here that my expectations were set early on with their 10 year guarantee. I expected the hoodie to last at least a year with the same wear as my normal, less expensive hoodies provide. As such, my initial contact was already taking damage to my ability to be a happy consumer and really champion their product. That said, the support I received was solid and confidence inspiring with good communication, and they sent me a shipping label so there was no cost to me to return the garment for repairs. They indicated that when received, they’d provide an estimated time for repairs and ship it back once complete.

So, on March 6th, I shipped it off and watched the tracking info update until it was delivered to the company on March 12th. I then promptly forgot about it until March 28th, when I realized I’d not been contacted upon receipt and after they determined how long the repairs would take. A quick message out to them on the 28th was returned on the 31st with a note indicating they had indeed received it and that they hoped to see all repairs ship back out by the end of that week. Forgiving the 2.5 day reply time and the fact that I had to proactively ask them for an update, I was pleased to know that my hoodie was expected to ship out by April 4th…

And here I sit, on April 17th still awaiting any sort of communication, let alone delivery of my repaired hoodie. I have sent off another request for an update earlier this morning, but as yet have no indication of a reply.

To recap here, two failures have occurred: failure to communicate based on the expectations which the company set for me, and failure to deliver the repaired product within the time-frame as communicated by the company. What could have turned me from an annoyed client to a champion? Simple and easy communication. Meet the expectations the company set as the baseline, execute on the guarantee as outlined, and communicate any delays that may prevent meeting those expectations on a proactive schedule. How to turn my annoyance into a lost customer with no hope of converting me back into a paying client? Fail to deliver on your promises and don’t communicate unless poked and prodded to do so. Sad really, since in the grand scheme this is really a minor thing, and with so very little effort the company could have turned a minor issue into an opportunity to make me, as their customer, a champion for their products. All that would be needed to build me into a champion would have been timely communication, and delivering a repaired product when indicated. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy.

At this point, when my repaired hoodie is delivered (and hopefully it will both be delivered and repaired), I’ll close the books on this company and never have any interaction with them again. Even if my hoodie requires more guarantee repair work, I won’t be wasting my time with them again. Likewise, I also won’t mention the name of the company since doing so will only amplify their share of voice, even if said voice is negative. I’d rather they fade into obscurity and be forgotten.

A 10 year guarantee you say? Yes, it is indeed too good to be true…. at this point even a 6 month guarantee would have been too good to be true. Caveat Emptor.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1qQyQbo

Driving behaviour by metrics; a Google Page Rank discussion

pagerankishOr, driving results through defined strategy by encouraging the right behaviours using the right indicators.

What happens when you drive behaviour by measuring activity? You get more of that particular activity, regardless of quality. When the activity isn’t as easily measured, then we start looking at indicators that can be measured, and that is where the slippery slope of metrics driven behaviour begins.

Take, for example, your website’s rank on Google search results. Using that single metric as a driving mechanism for success initially looks good and easy to quantify: is your site ranked in the first few slots on a google search result? If so, you’re likely focused on  the higher the rank, the better…. except, driving behaviour based on this rankling leads to poor practices and even worse behaviour. In order to obtain solid rankings, there were many different ways you could game the system (some less than scrupulous SEO “experts” have tons of tricks to cumulatively work together) to ensure a high spot without having to do the hard work to reach that space organically. Thankfully Google is implementing changes that reward the right thing and remove the ability to actually game the system through simple tricks.

The maniacal focus on being on the front page is what comes from poorly focused, metrics driven activity. Rather, the front page/first spot should be seen as an indicator, a result from doing the right thing. Using behaviours to drive metrics instead of the reverse is the first step to having the right focus on the right things. The common adage is “you get what you measure”, and truly it is in this case as well. The right thing, in these cases is creating quality content and engaged conversation. “SEO has changed. It’s no longer just about getting all of your meta data aligned and your site content optimized, but also about getting your customers involved in the conversation.

So, what’s the solution in this example using Google search ranking as a success metric? The answer is both simple and difficult: Measure and report on the behaviours you want to encourage. Only use search rankings as indicators that those behaviours are showing benefit. What does that mean though? Specifically, it would require measurement of content quality and more complex metrics to be developed in order to identify, in quantifiable methods, the activities associated with generating quality content and quality conversation. But, people are like electricity and water: all three follow the path of least resistance. In this case, that path is taking the easy way out by just looking at your google rank as a single easy metric to show success. But, like I noted above, Google is indeed doing things to reward those who are doing the right thing: both Google Authorship and GooglePlus provide deep benefit without much additional work (assuming you have content flowing already, these simple provide better connection to you and more robust results, they don’t make your content better).

If you’re still focused on page rank, you will soon find your metrics obsolete. With the proliferation of mobile devices and a shift to both smartphone and tablet computing, Google Now will be the driving force in benefits to site owners. We’ve already seen page rank plummet in relevance over the past 3 years as Google shifts their strategy to align more with organic search. Google Now is the future of a dying page rank. As a site owner or content creator, we are all best off paying attention to the future and building the right metrics to drive the right behaviours here and Now.

sentiment_Gauravonomics

image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics

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Personal or Professional: Why not both?

934897_10200977113927595_398103035_nWhen it comes to social business, there’s little difference between “social media” and “real life”.

Social media has blurred the lines of professional versus personal. Some businesses, like LinkedIn, have attempted to clarify those lines once again by focusing on one side or the other. However, that intended focus isn’t concrete and still causes some blurring to occur. Because of this, I am often asked whether it is advisable for a person to maintain only a single mixed account, or to manage separate personal and professional accounts on sites like twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and Googleplus.

While the general advice is to do what you are comfortable with, I definitely urge to one side of that spectrum and have posted previously on the topic of managing digital personas.

Social media is different from “real life” in one very important way, however: there is no distinction between work and play. Because of this, it is best to think of social business not in terms of work, but rather to see social business as an after-hours cocktail party. This analogy plays out as conversation during cocktail parties runs the gamut of topics from professional to personal; because it is more social than work, the atmosphere is more relaxed, less professional, but can be focused on business or personal endeavors as the conversation flows. In this way, social media provides a virtual platform to engage in conversation at any level with which you are comfortable.

To best use this dynamic in social business, I find it most effective to maintain a single identity. In any of the spaces in which I play, I am simply me. The conversation can take many different directions at any given time, which both provides for a broader scope of topics in which my networks may be interested, as well as build some sense of humanity which a flat professional presence wouldn’t provide. In my experiences, it is that depth of humanity in social media which really builds the connection and relationships in social business that become valuable down the lines as business needs arise and opportunities present themselves.

So when I am asked what my recommendation is, I say: be yourself. Do what you are comfortable with, but do it in an authentic and human way.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/PqLjos

A missive on the TVD Logo

tvd_stack-300dpi

A slight change of gears for today’s post as I shift from talking about social business to briefly talking about my new business: Tualatin Valley Distilling. I wanted to explain an important part of our company’s esthetic choice and it’s symbolism for us:

As you’ve likely noticed, our company logo is a design inspired by both Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Both my business partner, Corey, and I have a predilection towards these architects/designers and their distinct panoply of work. We wanted to replicate the craftsman ethos within our design as a touchstone for our own company’s guiding principles. Also taking inspiration from Compass Box Whisky’s capability for what we call neo-vintage and classically timeless design, we gave that guidance to our brilliant designer, Gary Chelak, who came up with what you see today.

I say brilliant, because Gary incorporated a depth and breadth of thought into the design that reveals itself slowly and intentionally, in layers of complexity and simplicity balanced to what we consider the perfect effect.

On the surface, the logo is a stylized stained glass version of a stalk of barley in the craftsman genre. However, a deeper look shows additional elements nodding to even more significance.

The idea behind the specific elements from top to bottom show the beginnings of the process in which we use barley as the main ingredient of our flagship whiskey, with the color differentiations denoting the grain’s growth, malting, and drying/smoking process. Moving down, we see the two green-blue-ish diamonds signifying the stalk of the barley as well as the water (greener was our design choice over blue) and process used to brew the barley and release the sugars necessary for the next two diamonds to do their job: the yeast. This is the yellow diamonds of yeast which eat the sugars during the fermentation process and in turn produce the alcohol in the mash we then run through the distillation process to the final element of the design; the rosette as the final product.

The design was done with specific intent to use motion drawing the eye from top to bottom, adding color & shape as refinement, to produce the ultimate element at the end as the complete distilling process: A timeless story within a deceivingly simple company logo. We hope you like it even more, now that you know the thought process and story behind the design and some of the driving ideals of our company.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1juHlZB

Know your audience

unlovable_dalepartridgeIt seems like such simple and straightforward advice, doesn’t it? Knowing who you are talking to isn’t much of a stretch, most of us think we know exactly who we are talking to via social media, but do we really?

Your audience may or may not be who you think they are.  For some blogs, the distinction of a particular audience may be clearly defined, for others an audience may bleed over into many differing perspectives and entry points for your content. The sooner, and more clearly you can identify the audience for your blog, the better your posts may become.

By way of example, I want to talk about a particular post which a friend of mine shared a day or so back. This post has some good advice, but the author missed the audience, and by doing so has likely alienated a larger swath of people:

“5 steps for loving the unlovable”

Dale’s post starts out simply enough: the intent is to help us all be better people by loving those who least deserve it. Good, solid advice to help us all improve our culture and become a more understanding and cohesive society. But, I’m having some difficulty in reconciling his second point with the title of the piece. In it Dale states:

  “Don’t Reinforce Their Brokenness – As a broken person myself, it’s rare that I don’t recognize my own brokenness. Talk about their strengths. Broken people need less awareness, and more healing.”

Yet, the title of the article “5 steps for loving the unlovable” clearly reinforces the idea that broken people are concretely unlovable. Dale’s voice here seems to be talking directly to people who don’t consider themselves as ‘broken’, and by virtue of this contradiction between advice and title, seems to assume that broken people won’t be reading his post. In fact, his voice generates an “us” and “them” focus that undermines his larger point.

But how would knowing his audience have improved his post? Let’s start with the assumption that those reading Dale’s post are both types of people as defined in his post: those who are ‘broken”, and everyone else. Not a huge stretch here as most people can identify as broken at one point in their lives, if not presently so. With this single, simple understanding that his audience comprises both types, I would expect a more focused choice of words to show compassion and love, rather than the subtle tone of superiority and conflicting messages present in the article as written.

A change in voice is a simple way to adjust for the audience. Given his recognition of being broken himself, rather than using “them” and “their”, a shift to “us” and “we” immediately changes the tone of the article to be more welcoming and inclusive as well as generating a feeling of deeper compassion and connectedness. With that single change, Dale could both drive home the overarching point of his article, while also combating the polarizing effects of the us versus them mindset which permeates our internet culture today. The recognition of an audience that is also broken would have guided Dale’s word choice to more effectively deliver his message.

Knowing your audience doesn’t mean you have to write directly to every different perspective. Rather, knowing your audience means understanding and acknowledging the differing perspectives and allowing those perspectives to help guide you as you create; leading you to the right word choices will do wonders to improve your following and reduce the potential for alienating a previously unknown audience segment.

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1hBDeW2

Of social business and sand castles

sandcastle_xlibber Where do you find the value in social business?

It’s a common question, especially in the corporate world where every activity needs to show some tangible value to justify its continuance. But, tying direct value to every action isn’t an easy task. In fact, doing so is likely the most difficult task facing social strategists today. Why is this?

The answer, like the question, is both simple and utterly complex. You see, the value from social business is seen in the small connections and conversations we have over time, all of which are grains of sand in what will someday make up a castle. Some castles may be a simple overturned pail shape on a busy public beach, others may be expertly crafted life-sized versions like you see in competitions… but in all cases, it is the connections of each grain of sand which come together to build something bigger than themselves.

Each connection you make, each conversation you have, is another grain of sand in the castle of your social business presence. Like sand castles, the value in social business isn’t as quantifiable as counting the grains of sand that make up the whole. The value is in how they are connected and the view of what they build. Some sand castles are simple and effective at bringing value to the child who built it; providing a sense of accomplishment and purity of fun in the building. Others are built for competition and judged on particular criteria to determine the winner. Yet, neither of these examples nor any that fall in between can be considered to have innate value, or likewise a lack of value.  The value in each of these cases is fluid depending on the goals and purpose for each.

In social business, it is indeed the achievement of your defined goals which will show you the value. I’ve blogged before on the need to define your purpose/goals before setting out on a social business strategy. But, of course, even then not all goals are easily quantified. Increasing influence, building digital eminence, and thought leadership are lofty goals which come with very little in the way of reportable metrics for success, so what can we use instead to show the value with these goals in mind? How can we quantify the beauty of a sand castle?

Stories. It is the connection of each of these grains that work to build the beautiful sand castles, the larger picture if you will, and likewise it is the stories of successes reaped from social business connections which combine upon themselves to show the value inherent in social engagement. So, to that end, I’ll leave you with this story that I’ve posted previously and that I believe exemplifies one of the many benefits of blogging:

I had a practical lesson in the benefits of blogging on Friday morning. During a routine skip-level conversation with my program director, I was able to impress upon him some answers to his questions by referring to a few blog posts I’d published that week and prior in the past few months.

Even as I was pointing him to those entries did I realize the value of blogging: I had content available, on demand that I was able to quickly reuse to address a few questions in a relatively concise fashion. Not only did these posts immediately address his questions, but more so they showed that I was a step ahead of the game, that I’d already been thinking about the issue before he even asked.

In this way, blogging for me has become a source of reusable self-generated content I can rely upon to either provide solutions or supplement larger strategy conversations and stands as testament to my expertise around my job and is now working its way to being a solid piece to my resume.

See ;) Reusable, self-generated content to help show the value of efforts. Social business works. To thrive, adopt the role of story-teller and show your audience value rather than just telling them.

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image credit: (cc)  Some rights reserved by xlibber

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1oQTp4z

Stop talking, start doing.

IMG_0562“How do we get employees engaged in social business?”

That is one of the top questions I am asked directly inside and outside of my present company. While the strategic and logistic answers to this question can be rather complex, it is also based in simplicity: stop talking about it, just start doing it.

When it comes to social business engagement, there comes a time when, as strategists, we talk about it all far too much and don’t follow up with any action… and when individual contributors need to stop just listening and start learning while doing. Enablement sessions, slide decks, conference calls, and email threads won’t get us any closer to being socially engaged. So, instead of talking about what we need to do, we need to just start doing it. Leading by example is the first step in driving this kind of organizational change.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Oddly enough, it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, it also takes quite a bit of work, but ultimately getting started and continuing is easy enough. There is no social channel out there that is so complex that you can’t learn it in an afternoon and master it within a week of using it once daily. Even GooglePlus, the most lamented and derided social channel out there takes relatively little effort to understand and maybe an afternoon of reading blog posts to master.

Now, I’m not urging you to get started here. I am telling you this is a necessity to survive. This isn’t just a nice to have anymore; this is the new way of business. As a company, you need to be engaged and involved in dialog with your customers. As individuals we need to be visible, professionally, to stand out and build our careers. I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in tone this blog has taken over the past few years, moving from a personal journal to more of a professional platform; I can assure you this has directly and positively impacted my own career in social business to great effect.

I’ve spoken before on some of the fears that keep people from engaging in social business. Rather than re-addressing those, I’ll put forth this Call to Action, this simple challenge to help you become more social:

  • Create your own GooglePlus account.
  • Circle me.
  • Say hello.
  • Begin sharing like you would on Facebook (interesting articles, opinion/commentary).
  • Circle more of your friends and colleagues as you find them and as they join.

If you take the above steps, I will promise you this: I will engage with you and help you master G+ within a week, you will begin to have more engaged conversations, and your network will continue to grow organically after that week. All of this will result in helping you become more confident and at ease with being active within the social business atmosphere.

But why GooglePlus, I hear you ask? Many people see G+ as a ghost town, an empty social channel where only Googlers are talking to themselves. Well, if we assume that is the case, then what better place to take those first steps where no one will be around to see you falter? You can post to your heart’s content without fear of saying the wrongs things since “no one” will really see it….
That’s a misconception, of course, as there is a LOT of activity on G+; so much so that my own streams have as much content shared in them as I see on Facebook now…. Where G+ shines in this case, however, is for new users who may be wary of becoming social in a professional realm, is in the use of circles. With GooglePlus circles you can share content with only select people, thus reducing the chance that something you say may be seen by the “wrong” people. It allows you to ease into social sharing until you’re comfortable enough with posting publicly so your posts can have far greater visibility.

Of course, once you’re comfortable on G+ and start your own blog, you can easily enable your Google Authorship to help increase your blog’s SEO (search engine optimization) and connect your profile with the content you create. It is a beautiful, organic win that will help build your own eminence in the digital spaces as you grow in social business expertise and skills.

A year from now, you’ll look back and be happy you started today. Keep putting it off and you’ll have wished you’d started ten years ago…. Don’t miss this opportunity to begin building your own influence. Culture change through leading by example; that  is how you drive deeper engagement among all levels of your organization.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1jVrpfX