ALI Social Media Summit Highlights

Today I attended the Advanced Learning Institute’s Social Media Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, and presented a case study on our social media efforts at Mayo Clinic.

Chairman Michael Rudnick gave a good overview, Andy Sernovitz of GasPedal did his usual great presentation, and we also heard from Patty Crowley of Johnson & Johnson on the new intranet portal J&J has launched for its IT employees, and from Jeremy Lasich, the Deputy Director for Communications Fairfax County, Virginia. I will have a follow-up post about Jeremy’s experience, since it will be highly relevant for the group for which I am presenting a workshop tomorrow.

I had lunch with a few of the ALI participants, and Jorge from HEB said my demonstration of the Flip video camera was his most important take-away so far:


And just after he said that, one of our lunchmates shared her family’s Mayo Clinic story. I won’t use her name, since this story is about her Mom’s experience with Mayo Clinic (and she corrected herself afterward that the problem was carbon monoxide, not dioxide):


This all just goes to show both the power of sharing personal stories and how quick and convenient the Flip video camera is. Editing the clips was really simple, and took just a couple of minutes.

As Andy Sernovitz says, in word of mouth marketing you first need to give people something to talk about, and then make it easy for them to share. Clearly the Flip camera and YouTube are tools that make sharing easier.

ALI Social Media Summit Discounts

I will be presenting at the “Social Media Summit: How To Use Blogging, Podcasting & the Latest Web 2.0 Technologies To Engage Your Employees, Reach Your Customers & Build Your Brand,” June 9-12, 2008 in Chicago, IL. My session topic will be: “Integrating New Media With Traditional Media To Multiply Results.”

This looks like it will be another strong event. I’m part of Day 1, just after Michael Rudnick’s address. Andy Sernovitz of GasPedal will deliver the afternoon keynote, and Duncan Wardle from Disney Parks will keynote Day 2 (here are some highlights of a presentation I heard him give earlier this month.) I know you’ll enjoy Chris Heuer from the Social Media Club, Paula Berg from Southwest Airlines and the Best Buy guys. The other case studies should be interesting, too.

Here are two ways you can save on registration:

  1. If you register by May 1, you save $400.
  2. Since I am one of the speakers, you can save another $200 by using the code “SPK” when registering.

Advanced Learning Institute is sponsoring the event. I’ve attended and presented (and blogged) at several of their previous conferences. Knowing or having heard several of the speakers, I’m confident you will find it worthwhile. I hope to see you there!

Sun Microsystems Embracing Social Media

Sheira Ariel and Carrie Motamedi from Sun Microsystems presented Embracing Social Media: Why, When & How?

Sheira asked whether social media are “just for fun” or also for business.

I actually think social media can make business more fun. And if your goal is more engaged employees, wouldn’t having more fun lead to more productivity?

She gave the example of IBM using instant messaging to put together a proposal for a client really quickly. Likewise, I’ve suggested using Twitter to quickly activate a crisis-response team.

On any given day, half of Sun’s 35,000 employees are working remotely. This makes a stronger case for using the collaborative power of social media.

A year ago they were using traditional communication vehicles: Town Hall meetings, E-mail, Static Web content, Newsletters, Conference Calls. Now they’re adding Global Town Halls, blogs, IM, Facebook, Wikis, Video/Podcasts, WebEx, SecondLife.

The Sun culture supports social media. Then-COO Jonathan Schwartz launched his external blog in 2004. As CEO, he challenged the employee communications group in 2007 to focus on “building communities” instead of just “doing communications.” They renamed their group to include the “communities” element: Global Employee Communications and Communities (GECCO)

Schwartz’s mantra is “Everything always in beta.” This enables them to experiment.

Sheira’s Guiding Principles & Tips:

  • Focus – pick a couple of manageable projects to get some quick wins
  • Start Small
  • Know Your End Goal
  • It’s a Journey

Five Common Social Media Goals

  1. Connect with friends and co-workers quickly
  2. Collaborate
  3. Build communities
  4. Get what you want (not what someone else wants you to have)
  5. Share

Matching Tools to Goals

  1. Wikis for collaboration/knowledge sharing
  2. Blogs to build reputation/share information
  3. Text messaging/IM for quick connections
  4. Forums and message boards to get employee feedback, solve mutual problems
  5. Facebook, MySpace, Ning to build relationships, share

Sun has about 5,000 people on Facebook. Socializing that happens in Facebook builds relationships that help create collaboration. It’s pleasure that leads to better business.

Sun has a PR group focused on social media. They also have experimented with events as ways to “slip in” new technologies on a pilot basis.

I created an event on Facebook within Social Media University, Global. I hope everyone who is attending the conference will indicate their attendance at this event by:

  1. Joining Facebook if you’re not there already.
  2. Enrolling in SMUG
  3. Indicating your attendance at the event.
  4. Continuing the conversation and networking, either around the event or by discussing here.

ALI Conference: Chairperson’s Address


Michael Rudnick of Watson Wyatt is the chairperson for this conference. I met him when he chaired another ALI conference, in Chicago. He did a great job facilitating that event and tying the presentations together.

We started with obligatory (I guess) safety warnings about what to do in the event of an earthquake. Not something that’s typically a big concern in southern Minnesota.

Michael’s presentation was on The Read/Write Intranet: How to Drive User Engagement and Productivity.

Employees want personal, straightforward, relevant information they can trust. They’re increasingly skeptical, though, of anything “corporate.”

They also want a “consumer-grade” user experience. They see great UI on the Web, and wonder why their companies have such a clunky interface, lousy search, and no ability to interact with (or help create) the content.

Key issues for Communicators:

  • Content – demand for immediacy and ease of publishing. Targeting content (enabling users to get the information they need, delivered to them.) Translation into non-English languages. Multi-media.
  • New technology – keeping abreast of changes
  • Operations and governance (guidelines, ROI/budgets, redundant or competing web initiatives
  • Phasing and transitioning to a new portal. Michael says communicators need to take a patient approach, and understand that it may take 3-5 years to implement a complete change.
  • Integration of third-party sites/data/content

Too many corporate intranets are in the Web 1.0 mindset, which indicates (to me, at least) that we don’t have a problem with people taking the long-term view. It’s fine to have a long view, but you need to at least start implementing some things to avoid getting bogged down.

If TechCrunch can keep busy covering start-up companies that can launch with as little as $50,000 in capital, why can’t Fortune 1000 companies fix their intranets?
Web 1.0

  1. One-to-many
  2. Preach/Spin
  3. Command & Control
  4. Formal and pre-determined

Web 2.0

  1. Multi-directional
  2. Advocate
  3. Influence and persuade
  4. Informal and dynamic
  5. Presence

Facebook isn’t “just for kids.” The over-35 demographic is the fastest growing. And large companies are saying, “So Far, So Good.” He cited a McKinsey study of companies that have adopted Web 2.0 tools, and most of them are saying they wish they would have started earlier.

Michael says that by the end of 2008:

  • At least 70 percent of companies without official support for blogs and wikis will have multiple unofficial deployments. Just because you say “no” doesn’t mean people won’t do it, just because you won’t provide the official infrastructure. They’ll form Google groups, or WordPress blogs or use other free services.
  • Enterprise social software will be the biggest new workplace technology success story of this decade.

In response to a question about using Facebook-like services for employee directories, Michael said there are several companies that offer “white label” products. He says one obstacle is that most companies would want them hosted on their intranets, fully behind the firewall. Actually, Jeremiah Owyang has a complete listing of these vendors.

Michael seems to be a big fan of Microsoft Sharepoint. You can see the demo here, but he says it doesn’t really show how you would incorporate this into your workflow to get things done. One idea he has is to have hands-on demos for whatever your technology initiative is…like the Apple store…so people can interact with your geeky “geniuses.”

That’s what Social Media University, Global is all about. Not many people will actually get to visit “Old Main,” but hopefully through the online curriculum they can get some ideas for how these tools can be used practically.

Michael’s Key Lessons:

  1. Have a strategy, vision and 18 month road map.
  2. Attain and maintain legitimacy — executive support and business case (and necessary funding)
  3. Line up content owners, provide a usable cms and continuous training and support
  4. Focus on ongoing support and resource commitment — implementation is only the beginning
  5. Thing big, start small, scale up — implement in phases — tightly prioritize and continually reassess
  6. Plan for continuous evolution — content, user interface, user preferences, software, search

We had lots of great Q&A with Michael. Please continue the conversation in the comments below.

For information about auditing SMUG classes or applying for admission, click here.

SMUG on the Road

I have the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Advanced Learning Institute’s conference on Social Media for Internal Communications today through Thursday in San Francisco. It’s at the JW Marriott, and the conference is being held on the 21st floor. Nice view:


I’m looking forward to some advanced learning and doing lots of networking, and also to presenting Mayo Clinic’s social media experience together with Linda Donlin, our employee communications manager.

I will be blogging highlights as I am able. All posts will be tagged “ALI Conference”