Weekend Roundup 1

Periodically during the weekends, I’ll recap a few posts that were long forgotten in the archives. Today, the theme is social media:

#ScreenGrab 09
Creative Commons License photo credit: claudia vieira

  • Social Media Policies and Procedures
    This was one of my best posts that was tweeted by @chrisbrogan and drove in a lot of traffic. There’s a strong business interest from companies and organizations to develop their own policies regarding the usage of social media at work and off work.
  • Social Media Strategic Plan
    This post is the follow up to the policies and procedures post. A quick Google search doesn’t reveal very many viable social media strategic plans and therefore lead to a strong demand by my commenters for me to expand further on this post. More to come.
  • What is Twitter and Twitter Resources
    Although this post is getting old, I found myself often referring back to it and using some of the resources I pointed out.
  • What is Social Media
    This is a series of Common Craft videos on what is Social Media and what is Twitter.

In addition, here are a few highlights of some great individuals I’ve recently communicated with:

  • Jun Loayza
    Jun is an amazing and energetic entrepreneur and specializes in developing web 2.0 social media interactive sites. He is in a class of his own and shares invaluable knowledge regarding social media.
  • Cody McKibben
    Cody is a Location Independent consultant that specializes in WordPress and blogging design, operations, and maintenance. I referenced a post I wrote regarding our one-hour consultation recently.
  • Natasha Wescoat & David Hoang
    I added Natasha and David to this list because they are unique, and different users of social media to promote their art.

Simplify Your Writing to Communicate Better

A short report, presentation, letter, memo, or document is often many times as hard to write than its long counterpart. Anyone can write a 20 page report, it takes talent to condense all that information in to a one page briefing. So why do you see such poorly written documents both online and offline?

The amount of effort required to draft, edit, and produce any type of document increases exponentially as you approach one page. However, short documents are many times more effective at conveying the message and initiating action.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

An example of a writing program

Washington State Governor Gregoire issued Executive Order 05-03 which requires all Washington State public agencies to use simple and clear language when communicating with the public and businesses. The “plain talk” guidelines include:

  1. Understand customer needs
  2. Include only relevant information
  3. Use words your customers use
  4. Use the “active voice”
  5. Use personal pronouns
  6. Keep sentences and paragraphs short
  7. Design clear pages

Typewriter B/W....now write the story.
Creative Commons License photo credit: geishaboy500

Simplify your writing to effectively communicate your ideas

Writing is a life long learning process. It takes years to develop an effective style and voice. I’ve found that my best work often is the shortest documents but also took the most of my time to develop. All my writing is customized based on need, audience, and subject matter. In all cases, it’s written so a layperson can understand it without needing to know background context and technical jargon.

“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.” – Another Mark Twain quote

    Visit Local Coffee Shops for a Break From Chain Stores

    When traveling, I always prefer to visit the local coffee shops to get a sense of the local community and the uniqueness of each city. While the national chains, such as Starbucks, offers consistency no matter where you go, the local mom & pop shops offers a little more personal touch. Below are two of my favorite coffee shops in the Bay Area.

    Awaken Cafe

    414 14 Street
    Oakland, CA 94612
    (510) 836-2058


    Awaken Cafe is a local East Bay favorite in downtown Oakland. It offers art, community, and sustainable coffee. They have a variety of organic, fair trade coffee that they freshly grind on site. Rather than plain brewed coffee, they use a French Press, giving their regular coffee a grittier hearty taste. Enjoy your coffee, knowing that Awaken uses 100% recycled cups that are fully compostable and lids that are made from potatoes and break down in 30 to 45 days. If you’re around, you can toss your cup away in their composting bin. While you’re waiting for your coffee to be made, also check out the ever changing artwork hung up in gallery style from local artists.

    Philz Coffee

    3101 24th St
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 875-9370

    Philz Coffee

    Philz Coffee has over 25 different roasts and each cup of coffee is hand made, meaning it’s brewed specifically for you. While a typical “brewed” coffee comes out to be $3 for a small cup, the quality and freshness can’t be beat. After you pick from the huge range of available coffee, even Jamaican Blue Mountain ($7  a cup!), you order your size and how you want your coffee: plain, cream, sugar, in addition to traditional espresso styles. The barista carefully grinds your coffee, loads up the coffee filter, gently fills it with hot water, and with care, slightly shakes the filter around to get an optimal brew. When it’s done, she’ll pour it out into a cup, back into the container, and back into your cup again, filling your cup with air and goodness.

    Google Wave Will Be the Future of Communication and Collaboration

    Google Wave

    Earlier this week, Google announced the release of their new communication tool, Google Wave. It’s already available for the select group of developers who attended the Google I/O convention. I’m going to take a chance now and say that it’s going to be big. Up until now, Google has separately released a number of powerful, but siloed tools. This includes gmail, calendar, contacts, chat, docs, and a host of other one off applications. All have been web-based and hosted on Google servers. While each tool has been incredibly powerful, they lacked the true integration that kept them from becoming a realistic competitor to enterprise business applications like Office.

    From the 1:20 demo, we can see the first proof of concept of the new features. They include real time collaboration, language tools for contextual spell check, and extension to other mediums like blogs. Think of this tool as Facebook, except its everywhere and not limited to just one isolated social networking site.

    Reasons why Google Wave may change the way we work

    1. It looks like local software. The way you interact with Google Wave mimics so closely to native desktop applications, you’ll forget you’re using a browser.
    2. It’s on the cloud. Data is stored safely in Google’s data centers. No need to worry about backing up and syncing.
    3. Collaboration. Until now, collaborating on a document meant only one person could work on it at a time. You’d track changes, send the document to a reviewer who would review the changes, make more changes, send it back. This process repeats, some versions are lost and duplicated. Instead, Google Wave allows for real time collaboration on a document.
    4. Open source. This isn’t going to be proprietary software. Google is making all the programing API’s available for limitless extensions and plug ins.
    5. Mobile. You can take it with you on the road on your iPhone, or Google preferred Android phone.

    Business Applications

    This may be the first time that Google Wave will force business to take a hard look at their enterprise application strategy. Using web-based software significantly reduces the IT support cost for maintaining licenses and desktop configuration. Google Apps for the enterprise was only the first model. Google Wave may make this a truly robust enterprise solution for information workers and much improved collaboration.

    I have already submitted a request to be a beta tester. Watch the demo after the jump.

    Continue reading “Google Wave Will Be the Future of Communication and Collaboration”

    Mastery Series: Bike Trials by Danny MacAskill

    This is the first part in a series of “masters” of their craft. In this first series, I’ve chosen Danny MacAskill, a bike trials master. His video below has exploded on YouTube and gain him popularity. Bike trials is a form of moutain biking in which the rider negotiates man made and natural obstacles without touching his feet to the ground.

    Watch the video below. Danny is impressive because he’s a master at his craft. The time, discipline, and pain needed to reach the level of mastery is awe inspiring. From this, we can learn that with hard effort, dedication, and intense focus, we too, can be masters of our craft.

    Continue reading “Mastery Series: Bike Trials by Danny MacAskill”

    Social Media Strategic Plan (Part 2)

    My last post on implementing social media policies and procedures received a lot of support from the blogging community. Carl Weinschenk, of IT Business Edge, interviewed me on how companies can better roll out social media initiatives, incorporating policies to protect the company and the employee.

    This week, we’ll build upon that and develop a social media strategy. That includes developing a strategic plan for implementing social media initiatives at the company. References to company also applies to government agencies, non-profits, group, or any type of organization.

    Why develop a social media strategic plan?

    Companies should develop a social media strategic plan for the same reason that they should develop a business plan. It is the guiding document for the company’s short and long-term approach toward using social media for its business needs, and to determine how social media can meet its customers needs. Stephanie Gulley, a blogger at heystephanie.com, recently posted a piece on assessing your customer’s readiness for social media.

    Without a strategic plan, it becomes too easy to get caught up in the latest technology trend. Limited resources constrain the implementation of every social media tool that appears. While individuals may be able to follow the trends, companies should develop their brand and presence on viable platforms.

    Garden Plans
    Creative Commons License photo credit: apc33

    What elements should be in the strategic plan?

    A social media strategic plan is no different than any other strategic plan, whether it be an organizational strategic plan, IT strategic plan, etc. A simple Google search of strategic plan will return great results:

    At a minimum, your company strategic plan should contain the following:

    • Company background – provides the reader with context and understanding of the company’s history, it’s mission and values, and organizational structure.
    • Methodology – a brief section should be reserved for describing the methodology the company took to develop the plan. Were stakeholders involved? Who managed the project? How were decisions made?
    • Purpose and Goal of Social Media – Similar to the company’s mission, vision, and values, the strategic plan should include a clear and concise set of goals and outcomes desired.
    • Prioritized list of social media initiatives – This section deserves its own post. Until then, the list of social media initiatives is simply a set of subprojects that the company wishes to roll out. For example, an initiative can be develop a presence on Facebook to connect with potential employees. From that list, the social media planning steering committee should prioritize and rank the list in order of importance. Prioritizing the list ensures that resources are dedicated to the highest value items.
    • Actionable implementation plan – Each initiative should have a high-level implementation plan, including a brief description what is the initiative, timeframe for rolling out, resources required, and dependencies.
    • Performance metrics – To ensure that the initiatives are providing value to the company and its customers, a set of measurable performance metrics should be developed, agreed-upon, and tracked. For example, a measurable metric can be number of recruitments referred by the Facebook page. A product company may wish to track traffic referred by Twitter leading to a sales conversion.
    • Roles and responsibilities – The stakeholders and project team should have their roles and responsibilities clearly defined to ensure that everyone knows their purpose in the project.

    How to implement the strategic plan?

    Next time, we’ll go into the nitty gritty of rolling out at social media campaign. In the mean time, please share your thoughts. If you have a copy of a social media strategic plan, please let me know so we can share to the readers.

    Social Media Policies and Procedures (Part 1)

    It’s a fact of life, social media is here to stay. Sites like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter are all reaching critical mass. It’s not just a network for college students or adolescence teenagers anymore. We’re starting to see professionals, celebrities, and even politicians publishing profiles, blogs, and even tweets. Rather than use a wait and see approach, companies should be proactive and take steps to build a framework for a well developed company policy on the use of social media.

    Companies should develop and formalize official company policies and procedures for the use of social media and social networking. For purposes of this post, I refer to social media as any usage of Web 2.0 technologies and sites such as blogging, microblogging (twitter, plurk), photosharing (flickr, twitpic), video sharing (YouTube, Vimeo), lifecasting (blogtv, qik), networking (Linkedin, Plaxo), and so forth. If you don’t understand what social networking is, refer to the short video in the media box.

    Creative Commons License photo credit: : amanda

    Continue reading “Social Media Policies and Procedures (Part 1)”