Friday, March 07, 2008

Identity Conference in Wellington

Just saw this Identity Conference is coming to town.

This international conference on “Managing Identity in New Zealand: Identity
Conference 2008" is a forum for presenting and discussing state of the art
thinking, research and practice around managing identity in the 21st Century.
The conference will focus on the development and future directions of identity
management (IdM) in New Zealand, and its wider implications for users, with
particular reference to the introduction and use of new digitised forms of IdM.
A major issue for future IdM will be establishing user-centric IdM: individuals’
ability to control the (digital) representation of their identity and its
potential uses.

There are some stellar speakers here - Dick Hardt has one of the best identity primers of all time that I blogged about in 2006.

Miss it at your peril.

Corporate Blog Lessons

I got a question from Gabor the other day about my experiences in using blogs as part of a communications strategy. Here is my response. Looking forward to G kicking off his own blog now...

Blogs as a communication tool – the key thing is that they are a direct two-way conversation between you and your audience. You have no control over who will read or over who will interact with you but you can influence it.

1. Have a clear purpose – my purpose when I initially kicked this off was to find a way to reach a broad range of internal Telecom people and get them excited about the possibility of new ways of working that had the customer at their heart. When I've moved from this, I haven't had much traffic.

2. Make it personal – this is not about the company line. It is about the individual engaging in a direct conversation with an audience. So have some emotion, make it personal to you.

3. Invite comments – encourage it. The best blogs I read always end with an open question. It’s a skill I am still developing. Listen to the comments and respond. Interestingly most of my feedback is to my face rather than comments published. I think there is a culture where it’s not ok to say you read this stuff. Frankly I’d rather know that people think I am full of sh*t rather than just assume it.

4. Be genuine – no spin, no edits, no censorship. The person whose name it’s under should be the author. Don’t have it ghost-written. Only moderate spam and abuse.

5. It’s not all lollipops – having an open public conversation means that there are going to be some unhappy people. So to that end
a. Be selective about what you talk about – some stuff just isn’t cool – and you have to be use your judgement. Remember what you post is there forever. So no trade secrets or personal attacks. Keep other people’s identities anonymous unless they are ok with it. I think it’s ok to reflect on your part in a difficult work relationship – that’s not a widely held view.
b. Be prepared for negative responses – best case they are posted and you can engage in a conversation, worst case they are behind your back and you find out you’ve been reviewed without your knowledge as part of your performance.
c. Ideally have the concept signed off by your internal comms people – and make them aware that there will be negative reactions and that is totally ok. I didn't do this which caused some angst.

7. Build a rhythm – publish frequently and invest the time to do this. The best publish daily. Some political bloggers are on every hour. Frequency builds repeat visits and encourages people to comment as well.

8. Check your analytics – I use google analytics – I can see which stories get hit, from which networks and can tailor what I am talking about to suit. I can also see the dross stories so I know never to comment on Australian / NZ political stories with links to genetic engineering because even though I thought it was funny no-one who reads the blog does. And had nothing to do with my purpose but that leads to…

9. Experiment ! It’s ok to throw some variation in there – you can see if there are broader areas you can expand talking with your audience about.

10. Participate in the broader conversation – read other blogs, link to your sources, comment on other blogs. Paul Brislen at Vodafone does this really well – he promotes what Vodafone is up to, writes his personal blog and actively engages in conversations where people are complaining about Vodafone. It means customers are being heard and they like it – first step to a long lasting relationship.

So – blogs are for talking with your audience, not talking to your audience. If you want to control what your customers think and publish only good news stories it’s not for you. Do not do this if you think it’s cool or a new way to influence people and you’re not going to genuinely engage with them.

If you want to genuinely engage and take negative as well as positive feedback, then it’s a great tool.

Lance also has some great thoughts on this subject which I wrote about earlier.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Really Effective Viral Campaign

I drown in email everyday - I use it as a source for information and to tell me what to do - and I hoard it.

Clearly I need Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero or Bit Literacy - bought on amazon a few weeks ago but not read yet.

Along comes a tool today via a great viral campaign that might help- Xobni.

Xobni purports to help arrange your inbox through instant search, context creation and display of contact information.

I say 'purports' because I can't download the beta yet. I have signed up through reading this on Lance Wiggs blog. With a bit of luck Lance has moved up the beta priority list as a result of my clicking on his badge.

If you click on the badge below I'll move up the list.

I am interested in how well this viral works - it creates instant scarcity of the download even though it probably isn't really that scarce. Its a bit like gmail invites but Xobni get to control the load and who they release their product too. Gotta love a bunch of guys who are that confident....

The viral potential is great - Xobni gets to see whose blogs are the most effective for delivering traffic and people like me hang out on the off chance someone will click the badge.

Oh - and I love the fact that one of the examples on their video is a guy called Gabor - I thought only I had relatives with those sort of names!

Xobni outlook add-in for your inbox