Bill’s Blog

Just sharing my thoughts (which are my own and not those of my employer)

Archive for the ‘blogging’ tag

San Francisco Online Community Roundtable

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Bill Johnston invited me to the Online Community Rountable held last night at Autodesk in San Francisco. Since I was in the city attending the Web 2.0 Summit, I decided to stop by. I’m glad I did. This turned out to be a great place to meet fellow online community managers. There were people form big companies like Microsoft and Apple, as well as people from smaller companies like The Well and an online fantasy sports site.

The key topics we discussed were

  • Who in the organization should own community?
  • How to get the rest of the organization involved with community?
  • Community identify and branding

Who in the organization should own community?

There were a variety of opinions. Some thought that marketing should own community, since talking with customers is ultimately a marketing function. There were certainly a lot of people who disagreed with that opinion. Most people agreed that many marketing departments just don’t get community. They still view marketing as telling, rather than viewing markets as conversations.

One interesting idea was to have marketing report to customer support. Not a bad idea if you ask me.

How do you get the rest of the organization involved?

This one was an important topic to me. It was the question I raised to the group. There were some great ideas that came out of our discussion. Here are a few:

  • get them involved with reading the community posts (start slow)
  • add a banner that displays for internal people only telling them who to contact to participate in the community
  • create a structured project and set aside community time. This sounds more complicated than it is. One person said they set aside two hours where engineers answered forum questions. After that time several really liked it and continued to participate.
  • Put your documents in a wiki. The idea was that people throughout the org would be inclined to edit the wiki or to read comments from those who did

Community Identify and Branding

What do you do when the community loves you and your brand so much they start using it in other venues? If you let them, you risk loss of control or worse. If you are a hard nose about it, you’ll upset the community and lose some of that magic fairy dust you’ve worked so hard to get. There were lots of opinions, but everyone agreed this was a hard one.

One very smart company said they asked their community to help them create a logo just for the community to use. What a great idea!

I had such a great time with these folks. I’m definitely up for doing this again the next time I’m in San Francisco.

Written by bill

October 19th, 2007 at 2:56 pm

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Twitter, myspace, facebook, …

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I just joined facebook.  It’s an amazing platform.  I’m glad they didn’t have it when I was in school or I might not have gotten anything done.

But now we have twitter to share little thoughts.  We have blogs to share big thoughts.  We have myspace to share ?????  And now we have facebook.  Where does it end?  Isn’t there one service / network / site someone can join?

Written by bill

August 2nd, 2007 at 9:33 pm

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Moving Day

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A few months ago I posted on how I was thinking about switching providers.  Well, I did.  I’ve ben working on the switch for about a week.  As expected, there were a few hiccups along the way.  In fact, some of them still remain.  For example, there’s a funny character that’s seen throughout the blog.  It looks like it appears everywhere there’s a space!  I can edit it out manually, but what a PAIN.

Also, I’m still uploading files.  Turns out I have around 10,000 photos from the past ten years that I’m still uploading.  That’s 22,000 files!

Then there’s the weatherstation.  I haven’t even started thinking about getting that moved yet.  Shouldn’t be too difficult though.

Anyway, so far I’m fairly happy with the new setup.  I’ve certainly learned a lot about PhP and MySQL.  I’ll work out the kinks in the next few weeks.

Written by bill

June 2nd, 2007 at 11:03 pm

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What’s with the silence anyway?

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Yeah, ok I’ve been quiet for a while. I’ve been keeping busy setting up a new hosting provider and a new Mac.

The Mac experience is the most interesting, so I’ll start there. Using a Mac inside of a primarily Windows company and you’re pretty much guaranteed some trouble. So two weeks ago I drove over to the IT place to pick up my Mac. When I got back to my desk, opening the box was like a breath of fresh air. I stared at the MacBookPro in anticipation. How long until I was blissfully typing emails and chating with my co-workers? Take a guess…

Friday I started the build process. It completely wipes the drive, partitions it, and dumps the special IT version of OSX on the system. Then it automatically does some configuration like adding the machine to the active directory. Finally, it adds a Windows VM using Parallels. Sounds good, right? On Friday mine got as far as copying about half of the 10 or so GB file before I had to leave work. Two hours wasted.

Monday I started again. This time the file copied and OSX was installed. But, it wouldn’t recognize the network. I spoke with the coordinator for the project and was told to “try it again”. Ok, six more tries and it still didn’t work. Somewhere in there I heard that the connection between a couple of sites was down so the Mac couldn’t be added to the active directory. So I headed out for the long weekend without my mac :(

Tuesday morning I plugged it in and started the install process one more time (if you’re counting, that makes 8). This time it worked! In a completely automated fashion, my machine had installed

  • OSX
  • Office for Mac
  • Parallels VM
  • Windows Build
  • All Windows SW
  • Added to the active directory
  • copied all my data from my old system

I’ve been using the Mac as my primary business machine for four days! It’s pretty cool. The only thing I don’t like is having to use Windows to run outlook. If there was a similar email client for Mac that integrated well with Exchange it would be Nirvana. They way Outlook is configured also has some quirks. My OST files are on a parallels shared file system. When I go into standby and come back, outlook loses itself. I have to shut it down and restart it beforeit can see the mail folders again.

Any suggestions for me? What apps should I try now that I’m using a Mac?

Written by bill

June 1st, 2007 at 10:32 pm

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Spam

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I just moderated (read DELETED) 21 spam comments for this blog. The burning question I have is why does this still happen? Have any of you ever responded to the guy who has $50M for you, if you’ll only send him $20k to cover his expenses?

Most of the spam comments appear to be links to sex sites. They try their best to disguise themselves (sometimes), but there are helpful hints that give them away. Do people actually fall for the comment – “nice site, I totally agree” followed by a link to whatevertheirfavoritesexsiteis.com?

And finally, why would they target this site? It’s read by maybe 5 people on a regular basis. The cost doesn’t seem to be worth the benefit. But that’s just my view. If you know something I don’t, do share.

Written by bill

May 11th, 2007 at 11:50 pm

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For all of the ghost writers out there

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Thanks to Josh for pointing this out. It’s hard to believe this could happen to anyone!

Written by bill

April 26th, 2007 at 5:26 pm

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Who is Thomas Hawk?

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Does anyone know Thomas Hawk? He has a great blog. He takes great pictures. It looks like he has a lot of fun with the photo walks he does with Scoble. He also says he’s the CEO of Zooomr.

All this makes sense. Being the curious guy that I am, I went to the zooomr site and read the about page. It says the interim CEO is Wendall Davis III. I looked at Thomas Hawk’s blog, and he does say that Thomas Hawk is a pen name.

My question is this. Who is Thomas Hawk? Is he Wendall Davis III? Is he Thomas Hawk? Is he Clark Kent? Does anyone really know?

Written by bill

April 19th, 2007 at 9:49 pm

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We did it! We launched the new ISN blogs

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We did it. We launched the new Intel Software Network blogs. Normally launching a new blog isn’t a big deal, right? People do it all the time. Why I’m so proud of this one is because it was my team that did it. It was great watching them work on this. They are professionals, and they always do good work. This time, it was different. This time there was passion. They weren’t working to a spec. They weren’t working on just another project. In this case, they were working with passion. They believed in what they were doing. They wanted to make it great.

Did they succeed? You tell me. I think they did a wonderful job.

Written by bill

February 12th, 2007 at 10:57 pm

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How to write a good blog

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Heres the last installment of what I learned from Stephanie Booth when she came and talk with us about blogging. These notes are from a two hour session she held with many of the ISN bloggers.

  • Blogging takes time. Set aside enough time to do it well. An hour a day or so is great. Her advice was to spend every other day writing and every other day reading other bloggers
  • Write for the web.
    • Use short sentences and paragraphs.
    • Remember that people dont read, they scan. Take this into account when youre writing.
    • Avoid words that your audience wont understand, such as abbreviations or industry jargon.
    • Make your blog more scanable by using bold, lists, and links to emphasize text.
    • Use links with your text. Dont post raw URLs.
    • Use informative, rather than catchy headlines. You want to use titles that are going to get people interested in your topic.
  • Other style tips
    • Spelling remains important. The odd typo is ok and even expected, but good spelling never hurts.
    • Short posts are good too. More short posts are better than a few long ones.
    • Write for people who know a little less than your target audience. I thought this one was particularly insightful. If you assume everyone knows what youre talking about, you are likely to be wrong. Start from the beginning. Introduce the topic and grow from there.
    • Dont sign your blogs (we had some people signing their blogs like you would sign a letter
    • Imaging youre talking with someone. Use a conversational style.
  • Content
    • Tell a story
    • Show your passion
    • Take risks
    • Ask hard questions
    • Be critical
    • Maintain focus. This helps your readers stay with you.
  • Listen
    • Use technorati to see what others are saying. Think up good keywords. Engage with others. Subscribe by RSS to those you find interesting.
    • Write about what you hear
    • Link to what people are saying
    • Read other blogs. By colleagues. By friends. By strangers. Use an RSS reader to make it easier and quicker.
  • Its all about conversations
    • Respond to comments. Get involved with whats happening on your blog.
    • Dont wait for people to talk amongst themselves. Engage them.
    • Dont expect comments. Theyre a bonus
    • Ban anything resembling corp speak TM, marketing speak, motherhood and apple pie, insider jargon
    • Dont be too upbeat. It feels fake

She also gave some examples of posts that she thought worked and why.

So here it is. Anything youd like to add?

Written by bill

January 26th, 2007 at 1:00 pm

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I disagee with Scoble, but agree there is a lesson here

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Scoble posted about “Why employees shouldn’t blog on corporate sites”. He sites a great example of IBM deleting someone’s blog after they left the company. The blog is now back up on IBM’s site with a disclaimer that the employee no longer works for IBM.

I agree that IBM should not have taken the blog down. I’m glad it’s back up now. What I don’t agree with is that employees shouldn’t blog on corporate sites.

Here’s why:

  1. One of the points of blogging on a corporate site is to show the human side of a company. Blogs are a very real way for customers to connect with the company. The corporate site is the best place to showcase employee blogs.
  2. It shows support. When we started our blogging efforts (disclaimer: I am responsible for Intel’s developer site), our initial approach was to have employees blog on non-corporate sites (wordpress, blogger, etc.). Many employees felt that they wanted to blog on the corporate site because it showed that the company was behind their efforts. I agree with that.
  3. Change. Corporate sites can be quite stuffy. It’s rare that you hear from real people. What you usually get is the corporate PR or marketing spin. Today, blogs are part of a change that’s happening in the world. People are realizing that they need to be more transparent. Companies are starting to realize the same thing. If real people blog about the things they’re working on, the company they work for, and the people they work with, it can change the outside perception of the company itself. Can you do this without being on a corporate site – yes. Scoble proved it. I still say it’s great to see a shift towards transparency and humanness on corporate sites.
  4. Blogs give companies the opportunity to join in the conversation. One of the things I like best about blogs is hearing what the readers think and having the opportunity to discuss it with them. We’re starting to see that on our site and we’re learning a lot in the process.

Well, I’m sure there are more reasons, but I hope you get the point. Individual blogs are great. Clearly I have one and like to use it. Corporate blogs also have their place. And in case anyone wants to point out the obvious, I am blogging this on a personal blog. Do I have a corporate blog? Yes, but just barely. I started blogging on the corporate blog this week. I started my personal blog in August. It took me 5 months to realize that

  1. I liked blogging
  2. I had something to say
  3. I really needed to be blogging on the corporate site as well (especially since I am asking others to do it)

Written by bill

January 18th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

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