Musical chairs …

Wow … has it REALLY been that long since I last posted?? 😦

In my defence, we’ve just finished a high-stakes game of musical chairs in my bit of BT – when the music stopped, there were 25% fewer chairs to sit on and they were arranged in a different way.

I had to dust off my CV and have a job interview for the first time in more years than I care to mention … fortunately, I secured one of the new chairs upon which my butt is now firmly placed … to recover from the experience, I had to take two weeks off!

Anyway, I’m now responsible for managing a group of business partners in a channels centre of excellence team providing channels expertise to the communications community in BT.

The major downside to this is that I’m having to hand over all my lovely social media toys to Mark Morrell, the BT Intranet Manager 😦 I’m sure he’ll love and nurture them as if they were his own … and if not, I’ll be waiting for him in a dark alley one night when he least expects it!

Although I no longer have the luxury of majoring on social media in BT, I am still very involved … we’re actually doing some really interesting pilots engaging with our customers in on-line forums … and Twitter is also on the radar screen which is really exciting.

In recent weeks, there has been a huge amount of interest in engaging with customers and stakeholders externally in social channels from different bits of the company … we’re taking it slowly and not biting off more then we can chew. The great thing about this enthusiasm is that it’s coming from unexpected quarters and from people who seem to get it. I’m optimistic that we are doing, or plan to do, the right things … time will tell.

Anyway, one of my final parting shots as social-media-guy was to re-write our social media guidelines. If you’re interested, take a look (downloads a PDF file; some of the links in it pointing to BT Intranet pages obviously won’t work).

I plan to keep blogging … if you can call my poor performance over recent weeks blogging! Must do better …

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Twitter and TV …

An interesting post on the BBC blog about the use of Twitter during the annual Eurovision Song Contest – it always amazes me each year that this is still going! Anyway, what’s interesting to me about this post is that it graphically illustrates the power of social media tools. It strikes me that people who don’t understand the value that social media tools can deliver normally have this opinion because they look at each tool individually and think that they are an end in themselves … for example, they think that geeky kids just sit on Facebook all day in dimly-lit bedrooms with ‘imaginery’ online friends rather than having lives … the reality is that young people use Facebook to organise their physical lives making it a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

Likewise, you could look at Twitter and think that it’s the most pointless piece of trivial functionality ever created … and, in isolation, maybe it is. The point is, the power of Twitter – and the rest of the growing band of social media tools – is in the way they can be used together to facilitate conversations, create connections, fuel innovative thought and creativity etc. etc. Each one is of limited use on its own and, if you take the mistaken view that each one is an end in itself, then it’s not surprising you might conclude that they are a complete waste of time.

To unleash the true power of social media tools you need to use them together – together with each other, and together with existing channels to create new, richer experiences …

Twitter in the enterprise …

A week into using Twitter and my experience so far has been overwhelmingly positive. It takes some getting used to and was very disruptive at first. Relying on just the web interface makes it significantly less integrated into my way of working and requires you to keep going back to the web site and refreshing the page. This wouldn’t have worked for me in the long run and it would have slipped from my mind and into none-use. Downloading Twhirl – a desktop client that works a bit like e-mail – really transformed my experience.

Following some advice from my colleague and Web 2.0 tool guru Steve Ellwood (@steveellwood in Twitter), I’ve set up a private Twitter group for my team in BT (using Grouptweet) – the team being highly dispersed and made up of mainly homeworkers – so that we can bond and share on an ongoing basis. I’m sure this will have a really positive effect on team dynamics … I’ll let you know how we get on!

I think this is a really good example of how the intranet has become more than just web pages behind a firewall.

Early adopter … me?

Thought I’d finally try out Twitter – I’m guessing I don’t quite qualify as an early adopter 🙂

I think the concept of a lifestream is potentially very powerful in a corporate context – great device for humanising the virtual void and aggregating disparate content to get a fuller picture of your colleagues. Twenty four hours in and I’m still wondering how best to integrate my consumption and contributions into my current activities … it has the potential to be as disruptive as stopping everything every time an e-mail arrives to read it. If I can’t figure this out, my participation might be short-lived!

My user name (is that the right term?) on Twitter is RichardDennison – just in case you were interested!