Thursday, November 20, 2014

More succes. Less content. Real results @TPLDrew #congrescm

Last up at the Content Marketing and Webediting conference is Andrew Davis. His keynote was about less content with more success. I really enjoyed listening to this talk. Lots of examples that I can hardly share in a blogpost. I'll link to the presentation as soon as it's published somewhere.

Key messages from his talk were:
  • We should create content brands, not branded content. It must relate to a subscription. Build a relationship with your audience before they need you.
  • Content brands build relationships, relationships build trust and trust drives revenue.
  • How do you do that? Think like a tv executive.
He had 5 secrets to achieve this (of which I missed one... sorry, it's been a long day):
  1. get rich, focus on a niche
  2. think in fractals, explore your niches
  3. exploit content holes
  4. … missed this one (will look it up and update this later…)
  5. create a hook
That wraps up a great conference, although I'm biased because we organize this conference. Happy to say I spoke to many smart and interesting people that felt the same about today as I do.

Wat maakt content overtuigend en viraal? @mcoster #congrescm

Micha Coster is de derde keynote tijdens het congres contentmarketing en webredactie. Zijn verhaal gaat over overtuigende en virale content. Hierbij wat 'notes' van zijn verhaal.

We nemen ongeveer 600 beslissingen per dag.

Wat zijn de mechanismen onder de keuzes die mensen maken?
  • Witte jas (autoriteit): als iemand in een witte jas wat zegt, dan nemen we dat serieuzer
  • Meer=belangrijker: als meer mensen het doen, dan doen we het sneller
  • Sympathie: mensen zeggen ‘ja’ tegen personen die ze kennen en aardig of sympathiek vinden
Deze punten kun je ook toepassen op content. Denk aan: review sites, sites om vakanties te boeken (met review en doelgroepencategorieën), wat experts over producten zeggen en ‘x anderen kochten ook’.

Tenslotte gaat hij nog in op de vraag wat content viraal maakt? Daar is onderzoek naar gedaan. Virale content ont
  • Maakt gebruik van 'word-of-mouth' (want het is overtuigender en gerichter)
  • Vertelt een verhaal
  • Speelt in op emotie
  • Heeft een trigger

Give your cross-media approach wings @nozurbina #congrescm

Second keynote at the Content Marketing and Webediting conference is by Noz Urbina about going omnichannel. Here are my notes of his talk.

Do you know the difference between multi- and omni-channel? Noz will answer this question during his talk.
Overt selling has given way to problem solving. Sweeping statements have given way to conversation-like message. (Rose)
Good example of omni-content: cards Google is showing based on searches. E.g. showing the opening times of a supermarket when you Google for it, instead of showing you a link to the site of the supermarket.
There are more and more channels and there's more and more need for personalization of content.
We’re realizing content is the strategic business asset, not the deliverable that wrap it. Content is vital across channels.

We must:
  1. fix the content (make it media-agnostic; make is reusable, well-modelled; apply semantic metadata; apply audience, applicability and context metadata to decide where and when to route it)
  2. assemble and serve more intelligently (manage systems that understand the content; etc)
Ad 1. Distinguish between Content, Models, Users, Scenario's and Outputs This links the world of UX to the world of content. The content model is the backbone of adaptive, cross-media, omnichannel content strategies.
Ad 2. It's not about the cms anymore. We need to think in layers: Create (authoring tool(s)), Manage (CCMS), Serve and transform (processors/api's), Publish and measure (WCMS). Then you can serve to everyone, channels, specific people. Also can relate to CRM's and translation management systems.

Omnichannel is when you take your content/assets and maps them to the phases of your relationships. This is not the same as multi-channel. Google understand this and tracks it with Google Universal Analytics.

In summary:
  • Who are you really talking to?
  • What content, format, model?
  • When should you personalize?
  • Where: device, channel, layout?
  • Why, updated valued-prop?
  • How will you create, govern, publish and measure?

Content strategy with slow content @mbloomstein #congrescm

I’m sharing some of my notes from the Content Marketing and Webediting conference I’m attending today. First up is Margot Bloomstein about content strategy using slow content for long-term change.
How to give people the right content in the right context?

Margot’s definition of content strategy is: planning of the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, brand-appropriate content.

Margot’s talk is structured around the following ways to slow down your users with content:

1. Editorial style and structure
Points to tracking personal data. Lots of uptick around phone and apps to share and capture personal data (Fitbit and the like), but they don’t happen to good at long-term change. On the other hand 10Q is a good example of using content for long-term change.
Content affects experience… and the user’s perception it.
Frustrating activities feel slow, but if the activity make happy it does not feel slow.
2. Discover and comparison-style content type
Think the pathway through IKEA. Why do they do this? For instance to drive exploration.
And think about how Disneyland attractions create experience before, during and after you visit it. Content affects experience… and the user’s perception it.
Frustrating activities feel slow, but if the activity make happy it does not feel slow.
3. Long form content
Margot gives several examples from brands like Patagonia about how to use long and short content, fast and slow content.

Respect users when the pay attention to your brand. Be here now.

You can find Margot's slides here:

Friday, November 14, 2014

The importance of Why for intranets #intranatverk

I’m on my way back from my visit to Stockholm. I was honored to speak at one of Kristian Norling’s Intranatverk conferences. I’ll share my insights from the conference in another post and start with sharing my slides and the story around the slides with you. Please find my slides here:

My talk was about the importance of Why for intranets and digital workplaces. The reason to talk about this topic is my surprise about how often organizations don’t answer the why question and just focus on the what, when and where of intranets. (Research on Swedish and Finnish intranets underlined this. I’ll share more about this in a following post.) I think this is problematic and leads to intranets and digital workplaces that don’t have (enough) value.

Endless debates
When we talk about ‘why’ we could easily get into endless philosophical, demographical or cultural discussions. About why we don’t ask why? Or why kids asks why more often than adults? And why some cultures ask why more often? I didn’t want to go there in my talk. Although I do find this an interesting topic...

Why is there fire?
But, to be true, my kids (I have three boys) do inspire me to talk about ‘why’. As you know kids ask ‘why’ all the time. Over time, when we grow up, we seem to lose that. I love how kids question everything. Sometimes the why question is easy to answer: why are you dressed that way? Or, as they asked me recently while building a fire: dad, why is there fire? In any case the why questions makes us step back and think. It helps us find what is essential and necessary.

Better intranets
This goes for intranets and digital workplaces as well. In my experience asking why more often leads to intranets that are more:
  • ambitious
  • realistic
  • valuable
  • useful
Two issues with Why
What I see around the why question for intranets is 2 things:
  1. it’s not asked at all, it’s all about how, where and when
  2. it’s answered by a too small group
In my presentation I wanted to look at these two observations and unpack them. First of all: What is a good why or intranet goal and what does a good why look like? Secondly, I’d like to discuss the question how do you get to a good why?

Bad examples
Let’s look at the first one first. I’ve seen organizations formulate the goal of the intranet in the following way: The intranet should have news, profiles, project spaces and blogs. Is this a good why? I’m hoping when you read and think about this, you ask: but why? Why news, why profiles? What is the underlying reason to work on this? To me this goal or this answer to the why question is not good. It’s focused on how not why. It’s focused on functionality or strategy instead of goals. (By the way: to me goal and strategy are different things. A strategy is a way to achieve a goal. Don’t mix them up!)
Sometimes why is answered in a better way. Organizations say: the intranet should improve or centralize communication. Or: it should improve knowledge sharing.

This is indeed better than the previous one. But again, the question should be ‘why?’. Why should communication or knowledge sharing be improved? What’s the problem? And how does this relate to employees’ daily work and the goal of the organization? How are we going to show the intranet helped improve communication or knowledge sharing?

A good intranet goal
To me a good answer to the why question or a good intranet goal consists of the following:
  • it’s specific, measurable
  • it’s inspirational
  • it’s about short- and long-term
  • it’s related to business goals and the employee’s daily work
So the goal helps you define the value of the intranet and you can communicate that to employees and decision makers. It’s helps you improve the intranet. It’s helps you distinguish between what the intranet should do now and later. And it’s help you do business in a better way. More products developed, more new product ideas, better service, more sales, etc.

How to get to Why?
So, first I wanted to address what a good why or goal is. Now let’s think about how to define a good intranet goal. How do you do that? I often see the why question answered in a small, isolated group. E.g. in the Communications department. They are working hard amongst themselves to define the reason why a new or updated intranet is needed. In the best case IT and HR join the discussion. This usually leads to too ambitious goals or goals that are not grounded in the daily business of the organization.

Broad participation
My experience is that the why question should be answered by a broad group of people in the organization. Most importantly by the people in the primary business departments. Get them together, talk with them one-on-one and in workshops, understand how they do their work, which tools they use, work with them and create the answer to the why question with them. It’s not easy, but in doing so you get an intranet goal that:
  • really answers the why question
  • has a broad acceptance in the organization
  • creates enthusiastic amongst employees about the (future) intranet
In short
So to wrap up this blogpost. I hope it inspires you to:
  • Ask Why more often in intranet projects
  • Distinguish between why and how, between goals and strategy
  • Define goals together
  • Make sure the goal is measurable, inspirational, focused on now and then and relevant to the business
So, give me an example of a good intranet goal, you ask? Good question! You tell me. I hope you're able to formulate one. Share it as a comment to this post. :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Intranet manager: the most complex job in the world

It struck me again recently while I was reading the latest edition of Jane McConnell’s ‘digital workplace’ report. There are an amazing number of aspects to intranets or digital workplaces! Intranets and intranet projects are complex. Intranets touch the hart of organizations.

Intranet managers
This is also what you hear when you talk with people who are responsible for the intranet. Their role implies they have to master a broad range of skills, if they want to do their job successfully. So is intranet management one of the or the most complex jobs in the world?

Intranet disciplines
Let's see which skills a successful intranet manager has to have. I have conducted the following list. Intranet managers need to know:
  • The organization and processes: how does the organization work and what are the key business processes? This is also important because the intranet needs organization (governance) that fits with the overall organization of the company. An intranet manager must be able to define, set up and manage the intranet organization.
  • Organizational strategy: related to knowledge of organization and processes, knowledge of the organizational strategy is important. Where is the organization headed? An intranet manager must know this and position the intranet as an enabler for the strategic themes. Decision makers will see the intranet has value and creates value.
  • IT and technology: an intranet is built using (web) technology and often integrates with other IT systems. Knowledge of these technologies is essential to be able to talk with IT and select the right intranet platform. The intranet manager must also be able to translate the needs of the employees to a functional description that IT understands and can implement.
  • Trends: What trends can be seen in the way people, organizations and technology works? Keeping an eye on these trends and using them for the intranet is essential for an intranet manager. Else the ‘intranet’ will be built elsewhere by employees…
  • Sales: a good intranet sells itself, but not everybody is just as convinced about the value of the intranet as you are. Therefore an intranet manager should be able to sell the (envisioned) intranet and sell it to management and employees.
  • Service: an intranet can (partially) break down. Employees will complain about this. Their complaints should be listened to and solved. Related to this knowledge of secondary processes is essential. Employee self-service is a highly valued feature of intranets.
  • Writing for ‘online’: creating relevant content for employees is an art. An intranet manager must be able to create such content and help others do so as well.
  • Finance: an intranet costs money and generates value. An intranet manager must be able to write up a business case for the (envisioned) intranet to prove its value to decision makers and employees.
  • HR and legal policies: what may or may not be shared on the intranet differs per country and market. In some countries, for instance, an employee picture isn’t allowed to be share (without consent). An intranet manager must know these (local) rules and act on them.
  • Measurement: intranet managers must measure the intranet usage, and analyze and report the results.
  • Convincing: intranet managers need to be influencers. In many organizations they don’t have a position to impose what they want (even if that would be possible…). Other people skills like communicating and presenting fit in this category as well.
  • Community management and networks: managing intranet means understanding the communities and networks in the organization. How are decisions really made in the organization and how do you get communities and networks to work for you?
I probably missed a few skills. I loved to hear from you which other skills you think an intranet manager must have. More and more I’m convinced that intranet managers should be good translators. I think that’s the implicit skill in the list. Intranet managers must work in between organization and employees, IT and Communications, design and technology, etc.

One person?
Reading this list could lead to the question whether all this can be done by one person. Ideally speaking I think the intranet manager should have all these skills. In most cases it’s even necessary, because there is no extra budget for more intranet managers (with other skills). But even if these skills are spread out over more than one intranet manager I think it’s important that these managers have overlapping skills. In this way they will understand each other more deeply.

Which steps can you take to learn more of these skills? I don't think there’s a 1-2-3 recipe. But I can recommend the following 3 steps:
  1. Read and listen: read books and blogposts from intranet experts and talk with other intranet managers
  2. Study: there isn’t an intranet management study (should there be one?), but spread out over different studies there are classes and courses that you could take.
  3. Contact the primary process of your company: take you time to participate in the primary process of your organization. Ideally work in the primary process for some time.
I’m curious if you recognize all this. Do intranet managers see themselves in this way? Did I miss out important skills for intranet management? And which skills are the hardest to master?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Some insights from the Digital Workplace Survey 2014 - 3

In my previous post about Jane’s report about the Digital Workplace I focused on what the report said about adoption, challenges and business scenario’s. In this post I’m zeroing in on the survey results about mobile intranet, search, and the scorecard.

Mobile intranet
I hear quite some organizations talk about mobile intranet. The report shows only 10% actually have a mobile intranet. And 30-40% have plans to develop one in 2014. To me this is somewhat disappointing, although it does relate to my consultancy work. Mobile intranet is still far away for most companies. Many are (still) working hard to get the 'basics' right.

Quite some attention is paid to ‘search’ in the report. Clearly search is not done well in most intranets. I do find it surprising hardly any companies get search right. My experience is this usually has more to do with governance and content design than with technology…

Together with an Advisory Board a Digital Workplace Scorecard was defined with which organizations can assess themselves at their readiness for or current state of the digital workplace. The Scorecard is not easy to understand and fill in, I find. But I actually like that. Developing an intranet or a digital workplace is not easy either. The Scorecard clearly communicates that. There are many things to take into account when developing and maintaining a digital workplace.

In conclusion
First and foremost I’d like to congratulate Jane with another great report. Clearly a huge amount of work must go into the report. I find reading the report inspiring and insightful. And the way the survey results are presented get better every year. I really appreciate the way Jane continuously is thinking about how to present and communicate the results in a better way.

I’ve read quite a bit of posts about the report. It’s great to hear what others think of the results. I’m curious to hear what you think of my findings from the report. And how you use Jane's great report in practice. Please leave a comment if you have any.

Oh, and finally, it’s good to see some Dutch organizations – I counted 7 - participating in the survey. But we can do better, dear Dutchies! :-)