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BRANDE : blog archives for April 2009

April 25, 2009

Are You Anti-Social or Just Previously Engaged?

Twitter vs Yammer in the war for workplace knowledge sharing.

It’s only April but I’ve already failed to keep my New Year’s Resolution. Back in December I vowed to consolidate my digital footprint. (If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you already knew that.)

Like the Berlin Wall, I was going to tear down the divider between my business and personal life. If my cousin wanted to LinkIn with me or my client wanted to friend me on Facebook, I resolved to accept every invitation. I updated my Facebook wall with my Tweets from my cellphone and posted the items to my blog and LinkedIn profile.

Unfortunately, like the Marketing professionals trying to assess the ROI of social media, I haven’t necessarily see any value at consolidating or keeping up with everything. Am I just trying to keep up with the times?

I bring this up as an intro to Yammer, the social networking site launched last September that’s focused on connecting employees within the same company. Here’s an excerpt from its Wikipedia page:

If Twitter asks: “What Are You Doing?”, Yammer asks: “What Are You Working On?” The purpose is to allow co-workers to share status updates. You post updates on what you are working on. You can post news, links, ask questions, and get answers for people in your company. You can see most the most prolific people and the most followed people. It is a good way to discover who is the most influential in your company.

Unlike Twitter, one needn’t stay within the 140 character limit on Yammer. TechCrunch reported that 10,000 people and 2,000 organizations signed up for Yammer on the very first day it launched.

Maybe you never heard of Yammer and maybe you didn’t know that in January they raised $5 million to launch a stand-alone model to run inside a corporate firewall. Chances are, you may not care.

With Twitter in the news daily and offering people an opportunity to “Group Tweet” by forming a private group, my guess is that Yammer is going to face a hard time winning the internal knowledge sharing wars. I find it difficult to find the time to keep my status fresh across the digital frontier, and my efforts at consolidation, just diluted the interest level of whatever I was posting.

A recent search shows I’m not alone- Here’s an excerpt from Ogilvy PR blogger Tanya Chadha:”I found Yammer useful when looking for immediate feedback or to quickly connect with colleagues. However, after a few weeks, I just could not find the time to continue updating my different statuses on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and Yammer. I’ve switched back to airing my thoughts and communicating with colleagues full time on Twitter.”

As for me, I’m going back to segregating my virtual updates, knowing that Twitter and Yammer are both running far behind Wolverine.

April 18, 2009

Do You Have a Social Media Non-Compete?

Who Owns An Employee’s Social Media Activity?

Thanks to John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing for this new issue to consider.

This is probably a touchy subject in some circles, but as more and more companies encourage social media participation from employees and even create job titles such as Director of Community, it’s something that marketers are going to need to deal with.

Many companies have created social media policies (some examples) and strategies to address things like who can represent the company and what they can and can’t say, but as companies put real faces, not company logos, on the profiles of their staff and those real faces connect and build relationships, the growing question is – who owns the content, profile and even followers?

Betty is great at her job, she’s totally engaging, builds relationships quickly on twitter and is often called by the media to pull quotes from her blog – and, Betty is doing such a great job she just got hired by your biggest competitor. Who owns @bettyserves (not real) and her 13,466 followers. Building the profile and relationships were done in the name of the company, but the connection was really to Betty.

Now Bob, he’s you’re key account guy, he’s totally engaging, builds relationships quickly in the field and is the go to guy in the industry when it comes to innovation – and, Bob is doing such a great job he just got an offer from your biggest competitor – oh, and Bob’s been under a non-compete agreement for about five years. Building the territory and relationships were done in the name of the company, but the connection was really to Bob.

So, what’s the difference? Is there really any? Is it simply the medium?

Like Bob’s non-compete, this is likely a new area of negotiation and one that both employers and employees will need to address.

April 12, 2009

It’s Web 2.009: Is your company’s career portal keeping up?

Congrats to my buds at Yahoo for winning ERE’s prestigious 2009 award for best corporate careers website last week. This accomplishment is particularly impressive in light of the type of questions they had to answer as part of the evaluation process. “How has the site has paid off or contributed to improved profits, better employees, and other quantifiable outcomes?” This was no beauty contest; it was about hardcore metrics and making a measurable difference in the greater business strategy.

Since I wasn’t part of the judging process (maybe next year), I don’t have their answers, but as a researcher, I do have lots of questions and so should you. Your company’s career website is the hub for all applicant traffic and you should be asking yourselves the hard questions about how it’s measuring up.

That’s where Web usability testing comes in handy. As the name implies, these are studies that enable you to evaluate your career site by testing it on users, employees, or even yourself.

In a study conducted almost exactly one year ago by Forrester Research entitled “Best and Worst of Career Web Sites,” the 12 websites examined all received failing scores due to poor performance and usability. Common problems included missing content and functions, flawed navigation flows, illegible text, and poor use of space. Do any of those sound familiar?

Step one is admitting you have a problem.

Usability testing can measure just about anything, but here are the key factors you need to consider:

Efficiency: How many steps did it take the user to accomplish pre-specified tasks (did the user develop carpal tunnel or fall asleep)? Was there a call to action? Was it easy to respond?

Performance: Did the user make any mistakes, and could they easily recover from them?

Recall: What information did the user remember afterwards. Does it communicate important information clearly and accurately?

Emotional connection: Would the user recommend the site to a friend? Is the site on-brand (i.e. did the experience match the expectation)? Did it make the user smile or cry?

Conduct your own Usability Research Study

After my last move, I set up the kitchen and called my kids in: “Quick! find me a bowl and spoon.” If they went for the right cabinet first, I knew I had successfully unpacked. They checked the dishwasher. Try again.

Your usability study will be a lot like that. Pick out a range of employees from various disciplines within your company and watch them perform 7 to 10 pre-determined tasks based on various scenarios. Be prepared with a pen and paper to take notes, and have a stopwatch ready so that you can measure time-on-task. Remember to reassure participants that their jobs are not on the line as you stand behind them with a stopwatch, or you’ll be witness to some rather erratic web browsing and sweaty palms. You won’t need to test it with more than five users. The first test will probably tell you 35% of all you need to know.

Task 1: First Impressions
Task 2: 5 minutes of free exploration (where did they go first, second, and third?)
Task 3: Learn about employee benefits (timed task)
Task 4: Apply for a job (timed task)
Task 5: Replace upload forms
Task 6: Give them a place to go (i.e. “job description”) and check the path they took
Task 7: Return Exploration: let them go anywhere they felt confused about or wanted to revisit. Capture the stops.

Save time at the end for some open-ended discussion on recall, branding and overall user experience. “What did you like best?” “What would you change?” While you’re at it, have some employees perform this test on one of your competitor’s sites. Use that as a benchmark for your site as you track it over time.

If the results are eye-opening (in a bad way), then it’s time for a sit-down with the head of your IT team. Be sure to come armed with the results of your test and a positive attitude, or you may experience some resistance. Have an open discussion about how to make usability improvements and offer your assistance in finding the right vendor that specializes in this work. Worse comes to worst, have your IT manager participate in your next usability study.

April 4, 2009

The Convergence of Twitter, Google and Taxes- Just in Time for April 15

Intuit Is First Marketer to Have Its Tweets Streamed Across AdSense Network as Google Syndicates Twitter Tweets.

Google, through Adsense, is offering syndicated Tweets and Intuit is the first to jump on the virtual brandwagon. When a user clicks on an ad from Google, it takes them to TurboTax’s Twitter page.

The success metric seems to be the number of followers they get though, according to Seth Greenberg, director of Intuit marketing they are still trying to work out exactly what a Twitter follower is worth from a marketing point of view, such as whether people have a greater propensity to become a customer when they’re following a brand on Twitter or how valuable those customers are. But he’s sure one of the advantages to the tool is its network effect.”We’re not going to hard sell you on the product, but we want people to know there are lots of people here who can help answer your questions.”

According to Ad Age, the TurboTax ads are running during the last two weeks of tax season — crunch time for tax-prep marketers. Intuit did not disclose how much it spent on this particular buy or whether the unit was sold at a premium ad rate.

TurboTax spokeswoman Colleen Gatlin mans the Twitter account, along with her public-relations team and Christine Morrison, social-marketing manager at the company.

Now I don’t know about anyone else but BRANDEMiX is already a-twitter with the possibilities of launching this for “the insiders”

Brave volunteers needed. Call us.

BTW: don’t forget to check out our recently re-launched website.