Over the past 1-2 years, I’ve been having a conversations with savvy folks lately who run in the social media / startup world about a sticky point that seems to have some complexity. That issue is privacy, ownership and portability of social graphs and communications by the “social employee” who does any outreach or relationship building on behalf of the company / brand that he / she represents. It’s a hairy issue.

Evangelists and social media, community and PR professionals are often hired for their connections. Social media, if used right, really accelerates the speed with which relationships can be built online and offline. A lot of us come to jobs with strong existing networks, and we continue to build them as a result of being on the job. A truly social business understands that to truly fulfill the “social employee” and get best results, there must be a symbiotic relationship between building the personal brand and the company brand simultaneously. For the social media practitioner, it is very important to keep developing his / her voice while developing the voice for the company, and deepening professional and personal relationships. Social media has really blurred the lines between personal and professional relationships, which only further obfuscates the issue of who owns what, and how you “split up the goods” when you split up. Just like with marriage, most people don’t think about their exit when they start working, but here are some things you should think through:

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I have some big news to share today. I have accepted a new gig as Head of Community at Yammer, where my first day will be a week from today —  next Monday. For those of you that don’t know, Yammer is the enterprise social network that allows employees to collaborate, share knowledge and achieve better business results by doing so. It launched in 2008, and is already used by 100,000 organizations, including more than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies.

To me, this is not just another job. In many ways, I feel like everything I’ve done up until this point was to give me the tools and skills to do this job effectively. Also, all of my prior work has helped me appreciate the importance of internal collaboration and communication, in order to deal with the demands of today’s business.

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I got to have a chat with my idol and friend Paul Greenberg over the holidays and we had a fascinating discussion about self-interest in life and in business. I’m rather ashamed that it took me a month to publish this post, but I guess that’s how life goes when you work for a startup and are starting a newly married life. Not making excuses; rather, I’m going to focus on publishing more original content for this blog.

So.. Back to self-interest. Since I was quite young, I remember coming to terms with my own, and overall human, selfishness. Since childhood, I remembered how good it felt to do something nice for others, and I wanted to do more of it. The reverse is, of course, also true — when you mistreat others, willingly or not, you feel bad. This is why participating in charitable activities is such a win-win, in my opinion — you get to feel good while doing something good for others. The benefactor of the charitable activity benefits from the product of the activity, while you benefit from the good feeling. Even though you do charitable activities with the goal of helping others, the real reason why people do them, is because they feel good. Even though altruistic readers of this post may get up in arms over this last statement, I do think that self-interest rules all other human emotions.

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CrowdThis post was reposted from the Nimble blog, with the purpose of retaining a copy of the blogpost in my blogging portfolio.

I was working on a blogpost the other day, talking about humanness in corporate social media, as well as the phenomenon of the professional and personal worlds blending. I knew that somewhere, a long time ago, I came across someone’s personal anecdote about receiving more compassion in a service role after adding a photo with kids to social media avatars. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of who said that, about what company, or what the platform of expression was (tweet, blog, forum, etc). Go figure! My colleague and I scoured Google and Twitter search for mentions of anything that had the words “kids, service, avatar, compassion” — you get the point. Nothing! It’s was much like finding a proverbial needle in a haystack. Read the rest of this entry »

heart on sandThis post was reposted from the Nimble blog for the purpose of retaining it as part of my blogging portfolio.

It’s almost impossible to be effective in social media without adding a personal touch. The only reason I say “almost impossible” is because I don’t believe in absolutes and want to leave the door just slightly ajar for someone to come and prove me wrong. That being said, I haven’t observed many people who can do social media successfully and remain completely anonymous. Below are some reasons why this is the case.

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If the title of this post doesn’t ring a bell, you probably haven’t been reading enough Twitter bios or “About Me” sections of blogposts.

I have worked for all kinds of companies, large and small, B2B and B2C, some of which have legal departments and some of which don’t. Trust me, the implications of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person in the wrong public (or private) forum isn’t lost on me. I’ve written social media policies, and I understand fully how a well-crafted social media policy isn’t really about social media, but rather all communications. I get the disclaimer of “These opinions are my own and don’t represent my employer”, and trust me, nothing in this post represents anyone or anyone I’ve worked for / with.
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street signThis post was reposted from the Nimble blog, with the purpose of retaining a copy of the blogpost in my blogging portfolio.

There are many types of communities: there are user forums and more permanent communities – some “walled” and some open. Blogs are absolutely living, breathing communities, where comment discussions are oftentimes more valuable than the content itself. There are also ad-hoc communities that result from people coming together to discuss something — picture a “tweetchat” that comes together to discuss something. These are all communities, and although they are different in formation process, duration, barriers to entry (signup, pay wall, professional qualifications), and other aspects — they are all built with a purpose of bringing people together who share an interest and passion. When passionate individuals get together and engage with each other, it’s like music to people like me. A shared passion inspires engagement, action, reaching goals, discussion, discourse… and conflict.

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Today is the last day of 2010, and I’m sitting here pondering everything that happened in 2010 and what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2011. Very cliche of me, I know! I typically hate these lists, and even more than that I hate predictions and resolutions for the coming year. So with regards to 2011, I’ll say that I have just 3 plans and goals.

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Gold coins

Employees are your untapped goldmine

This post was reposted from the Attensity blog for the purpose of retaining it as part of my blogging portfolio.

Here’s one resource you are probably not using to its 100% capacity: your employees. And I don’t mean it in the run-em-into-the-ground-work-around-the-clock kind of way. What I mean is that you are probably not leveraging their knowledge, their passion and enthusiasm or their social capital well enough. How do I know that? Because very few companies actually do this, and most of the rest do not really appreciate that their employees have a value above and beyond what they were hired to do. Think about it: with the advent of social media, your employees, as much as your customers, define your brand. If you even partially understand the impact that the social revolution has had on the way we do business and relate to each other as individuals, you certainly know that you no longer have control of your brand – your customers do (and that includes customers and non-customers as well). This reality has hit home for most; however, what hasn’t hit home with the same force, is the realization that your employees have just as much, if not more in some situations, impact on how your brand is perceived in social media. I’m not only referring to what employees are saying, but even more so what employees are not saying. Are your employees your own brand advocates? Are your employees effective in the frontlines working with customers to build a better product?
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In the spirit of correct attribution, the above title is my cheeky take on Naughty By Nature’s OPP – if you don’t know what this song is, I can’t help you.

An unpleasant event happened to me very recently that made this post a necessity. Someone ripped off my content, to pass it off as his own. It wasn’t borrowed or repurposed; it was blatantly copied and pasted, passed off as someone else’s and even shared across Twitter as someone else’s creation. Now don’t get me wrong; this is not the first or the only, or even the last, time this has happened. But this was one of the more offensive examples. Following it, I had several conversations with various folks on Twitter, sharing similar stories. I think there’s a need to talk about proper etiquette when repurposing and attributing, as well as how to protect yourself from stuff like this. I’m going to attack part 1 in this post, and part 2 in a later post.

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