MARIA OGNEVA'S BLOG
Hello, and welcome to my blog and the digital home for my thoughts. Most know me as @themaria, my handle across most social media sites and communities. My actual, given name is Maria Ogneva, and I love writing, traveling, eating, and spending time with my new husband.
I am passionate about how social media is changing the way we communicate, help and relate to each other, share news and make the world a smaller, more hospitable place. I work at Salesforce as Director of Product Marketing on the Communities product, where my job is to help customers (and the world at large) to be successful in building communities. I learn every day, and I share my thoughts and personal growth here.
Please note that the views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any of our clients.
Today I realized that I hadn’t posted a blogpost in a while. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, Twitter has spoiled me. With Twitter, as soon as I have a thought, I can just put it out there and get immediate feedback / start a conversation. There are so many random thoughts each day, and they are so disparate, that it would make little sense to either: 1) pack them into one giant post that would ramble, or 2) have several drafts going at the same time. So what ends up happening is inaction: I wait to collect enough thoughts under the same umbrella, then write a post that’s too long, and then don’t write for a while. I psych myself out with writing a long, carefully crafted blogpost, then put it off, and nothing happens. It becomes an ordeal, to the point where I have to schedule some time to blog – and who has time for that? Blogging on command inevitably also leads to writer’s blog, which also contributes to inactivity. So I am trying out something different: writing short posts with higher frequency – something between a tweet and a full blogpost, literally 1-2 paragraphs. Perhaps Tumblr is a more suitable platform for that, even though I couldn’t figure out how to turn on comments.
I am not trying to be a professional blogger or make any money with this blog. My reasons for blogging are simply to force myself to explore a topic more deeply, to chrystalize ideas, develop my voice, start a conversation and eventually have all of the above contribute to the building of my personal brand. And, to be honest, I simply enjoy writing. I consider myself a creative person, but since I have been devoid of any artistic ability, I have always found solace in verbal expression. The only way to achieve the above goals is to, simply, ummm, write! So I want to try this higher frequency approach. Besides, readers prefer shorter posts; they are more fun to read, and we are all so crazy busy and ADD anyway. In Russia, where I am from, we have a saying “Brevity is a sister of talent.” I think that today is more relevant than ever.
So my thought for today is around crowdsourcing. Having used social media on a personal level, I have discovered many cool tools. However, the next step is to streamline, separate the wheat from the schaff. Application of social tools to business (anything from a small nimble startup to a large global organization) is tbe next natural step. Having worked for both, I am going to attempt to navigate the landscape and figure out what works for what type of organization. Crowdsourcing is fascinating (crowdsourcing, if you don’t know, is the process through which a business / individual can take a pulse of a market / segment / country / world / twitterverse / whatever unit interests you, around a particular issue / product / brand / whatever you are measuring). Now that we have all been putting out a ton of user-generated content out there via a variety of social tools (blogging, soc nets, microblogging, social bookmarking, etc.), we need to make sense of all of the produced content. We can leverage 2 types of content: 1) already produced content (via tools like Twitter Search and others like it), as well as 2) stimulate new discussion.
Today, a friend’s tweet about tinychat.com prompted me to think about the latter. It’s a cool tool by which you can create a temporary chatroom, tweet it out and start a discussion around a topic. It’s like any multi-user chatroom, but optimized for Twitter. Several participants in this exploratory chat noted that this is a perfect extension of Twitter, because crowdsourcing / discussion on Twitter has 2 major limiatations: 1) 140 characters, and 2) inability to direct a thought to more than a couple of people at once. Very very cool. This is a winner. So easy to use and with a laser focus on doing one thing, and doing it well. Moreover, your ability to leverage others’ participation is directly related to your reach on Twitter; tinychat isn’t very useful if you don’t have a lot of followers.
What are some other tools that are effective at quick’n’easy crowdsourcing? I tried ask500people, which was another tool suggested by someone in that same tinychat session. I created a simple question, just to test it out, created a bit.ly link and threw it up on Twitter to see what happens. Immediately a friend contacted me saying that he needed to login in order to answer my poll. Well, that’s a definite downer. Making people sign up to use your service is a serious user experience issue, and a point where you stand to lose the most users, as we all know. So using a service like that for crowdsourcing is not very effective, as your universe of potential respondents shrinks to the point where it’s challenging to get any meaningful results.
So above is a quick and dirty review of just a couple of tools that work and don’t work. Please share your wisdom and experience in the comments below: what has worked for you?