Tag: collaboration

Organic Minds: Notes from the Social Front

Some of us tend to come across or focus on content related to dominant social media trends, studies, news, as well as the chatter about organizations’ experiences in the social space.

I’m going to switch gears for this post and get a pulse check on the up-and-coming, entrepreneurial set—get some thoughts from them on their experiences.

I posed three questions to four members of my tribe (and when I say ‘tribe’ I mean my twitter follows):

  1. What one aspect of social media encourages you to believe in its effectiveness and why?
  2. Describe your most challenging social-related experience in a team environment and what lesson(s) you’ve learned from it
  3. If your next gig involved educating a group of people about social media, what top 3 things would you focus on and why?

I refer to these promising young women and men as ‘organic minds’ as it characterizes the way I’ve invested in cultivating my relations with them.

I didn’t resort to auto-DM-ing them to sell anything. It wasn’t all about me. And yes, I consistently make the effort to ‘stop by and say hello’ and ask how their lives are doing.

Eventually, during the course of my regular interactions with them, I begin to get an authentic sense of who they are and of their take on the social web.

See? Organic minds. No artificial flavour added.

So. Googly-eyed C-suite-ers just getting the hang of the socialverse…listen up. Some first-hand thoughts from a sample of the generation who may well be charged with managing the evolving social formula over the long term:

Charlotte Barker@charlottehrb Social media strategist in love with social media. Loves out of the box thinking, guerrilla marketing, engaging, conversing and learning. Tweets for @SMMKSC Charlotte Barker@Grdeken Associate Director of Haitian Microfinance Inc. and Web Consultant for Small Businesses
Charlotte Barker@AdrianEden Director of Social Media and SEO at CalvinAyre.com | Currently mentoring with some of the best Search and Social people in the world Charlotte Barker@Beckstar23 A decade in PR, inquisitive and love to ask “why?” or “why not?”, enjoy telling and listening to stories, love laughing and brainstorming ideas and solutions

Charlotte BarkerCharlotte

1. The community and the relationship building. SMB’s are proving that sm marketing is working. For me this market segment is where the success stories and the case studies are. Times are changing and so is marketing. Experience and engagement are priority.

2. I was in a situation where the team I was working with were hard to get motivated. The group was very unorganized and not ambitious, which made trying to get projects together and launched become increasingly difficult. I felt frustrated and helpless in the situation. But I learned that there’s always a time to speak up and light some firecrackers under people’s butts! I realized that there will always be situations that I want to unfold differently but people have different ways of going about things and sometimes you have to speak up, and sometimes you learn to adjust and adapt.

Top 3

  • If you screw up, face the music. Don’t hide away and hope people forget – they won’t. Be prepared to defend yourself or admit your wrong and fix it. transparency (honesty, consequences)
  • Time commitment/dedication – it may be low cost, but it’s not low time commitment. Be prepared to commit.
  • Be social. Be engaging. Be conversational. Make sure you are being the ‘social’ part of social media.


Adrian EdenAdrian

1. Communication Barrier Removal. You can speak with any business owner/public figure/etc directly at any time, in any form you wish. This makes everyone have to be very sincere and real with what they say and do, because it is out there for the world to see and judge. No more “gate keepers” to get through.

2. Well, currently I’m putting together a website for Calvin Ayre (founder of the Bodog Brand) and in doing so I have to work closely with many people from around the world. This requires a lot of pre-planning and highly descriptive process documents so everyone is up to speed with what is happening at the same time. Another challenge I’m facing is the language barrier, I don’t speak Thai or Chinese, so I rely a lot on Google Translate and human translators. In doing this project I have learned to be patient and understanding, because of the cultural differences, but also because Social Media is new to many places in the world, especially China (with the great fire wall and all).

Top 3

  • I believe all Media is Social Media, and the only reason why we call it Social is because it is necessary to help explain the changes in the Media landscape to people who do not understand this. So the first thing Iwould teach is that “Social” Media is not complicated, it is simply an evolution.
  • Second thing I would explain the Real-Time web and concepts like PubSubHubBub, and how this is affecting the rate at which information/news is passed from website to human. The real-time web is also removing a lot of barriers between news source and people hearing about it. For instance, you may hear about an earth quake in your city over Twitter by people who experienced it first hand, hours before news websites have this content live.
  • I would suggest that they have fun with their Social Media usage and show as much personalty as possible. At the end of the day we are all humans wanting to have fun, and this should definitely show up in their Social Media strategies for business. Also, ask a lot of questions publicly on Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook etc and reply to those answers. Create conversations around topics related to your brand. This will create community, transparency, and trust. Which will increase the likelihood of inbound links from others Blogs/websites. Allowing for fun and engagement, but also an increase in SEO benefits.


Rebecca ErasRebecca

1. I see social media’s effectiveness attributed to transparency and immediacy. Never before has the average person been able to break a story, start a trend, spread a joke, video or photo as quickly, and to as many people, as social media grants. There is no red tape holding “news” back, and as a result, more than ever, people are trusting each other as invaluable information sources. Information is literally at our fingertips and we know where it’s coming from and who’s talking about it.

2. As far as a socially challenging experience, it’s hard to pinpoint one to take precedence over all. It can certainly be challenging to convey or receive a message as intended in the case of online communications versus in-person. Subtleties in language can be overlooked altogether and can create misunderstandings and hostilities that throw a wrench in an otherwise well-intentioned conversation.

Top of mind

Should I find myself in a position to educate others about social media:

  • I would like to focus on what gets people talking in the first place.
  • Why do some of the oddest things spread like wildfire over the net?
  • Some people say it’s unpredictable, while others claim to know how to make it happen. I would like to delve into case studies on this and look at perhaps an experiment with my “class” to see what idea/approach proves most successful.


Grant DekenGrant

1. SM has the capability and ongoing potential to shift traditional norms in terms of relationships between businesses and consumers. Companies – and this will continue to improve as long as the social media arena grows and evolves – are required to be more transparent in terms of customer service and accountability. It creates exceptional opportunities for both sides, but brings some new constraints and expectations that organizations (and at some level consumers) need to be aware of for these opportunities to be utilized and of course monetized.

2. In SM there have been times in which we have tried to create hype and grow groups and had limited success. The most important lesson I learned is that you can’t get the results you want unless you have advocates for your organization, product or service. In addition it’s been important for me to learn that advocacy is what spawns engagement, and without engagement you’re really limited in terms of what you can do with social media.

Top 3

Let me preface my answer by saying my focus is primarily related to the business practice of social media:

  • Approaching social media with a strategy that aims to achieve specific predetermined objectives.
  • The importance of consistency in achieving results
  • The difference between self promotion and engagement. Engagement is the essence of social media.


Are you making the effort to ask your tribe what they really think about social media and how it impacts their day-to-day? What notes from the field would you share with bright minds and entrepreneurial spirits?

The Power of Online Communities

This post was inspired by a random DM from @RepuTrack

As social media inculcates itself into the mainstream, it becomes obvious that the principles governing its successful use have indeed been around for years, echoing traditional models of engagement that have formed the basis of many a tried and true best practices for business, social relations and information aggregation.

SingSing tribe gathering Papua New Guinea

photo sourced from Flickr via Mct-Enigma

But I rarely come across promoted evidence of the raw power of online social interaction, specifically in the way it yields tangible results for established online communities.

Now I don’t discount the fact that many social sites have ran successful campaigns by leveraging influence within their own respective ‘tribes’. So I’m shining the spotlight on this one example:

Tribal convergence
Thanks to a link referral by @RepuTrack, I was compelled to share the story of certain members of an online community (Collectors Society) who recently reached out within its tribal ranks to raise funds in honour of a fellow member (Nik) who suddenly passed away and has left a family behind. The link is a must-read as I won’t be citing specific references to this touching story here. Long and short of it? If I were to encapsulate it in a headline: Loss of valued tribe member (and his influence) fuels tribal convergence and call to action.

Leveraging native tools
What fascinates me with this story is how the fund raising process takes place: an auction process, which also serves as a central tool used by the community. Now that’s what I call true leverage. A tribe that uses tools, which typically benefit individual means, can equally turn around to transform and use the same tools towards a common altruistic goal.

What you give is what you get. In a matter of days following the initial arm that reached out, donations to help Nik’s family have reached well over $23,000. And that’s just monies from a single donation source! The last comment line on this thread sums up the profound impact of communal action: This place is more of a family than most families. I am so proud of all of you. That’s quite the statement. Moreover, it’s hardcore testament to how tightly-knit this community really is.

Faith as objective catalyst
I keep coming across many lessons offered on social engagement. At times I hear rumblings in the form of tweets that question whether or not we are over-using (or really *getting*) the term engage, engaging and engagement (via @Filterologist) Her point is well taken. Often these references are thrown around gatuitously that they risk being perceived as lightweight buzzwords.

But I think this story here begs to differ. Call it faith, communal spirit, tribal consensus, or just plain human compassion. It’s a visceral reality—a natural reflex in the form of an emotional response borne out of significant social engagement. And yet despite its subjective quality its purpose remains objective: to help, to contribute, to make a difference.

There is untold power within well nurtured communities. If you feel you’re part of one or aspire to help build one, ask yourself: will my call be heard if I ever need to reach out?

Wikis for Enterprise

New entrants to the social media sphere are getting their feet wet, googly-eyed while sorting through the hype and determining what to leverage and how.

autom8 iconFor business communicators keen on emerging web-based technologies and their various applications to existing processes within the enterprise, a good starting point would be to look at how wikis (not blogs) are being leveraged for internal collaboration, particularly when managing projects involving several players in a team.

This post is geared to help familiarize communicators with the potential of using wikis as a collaborative tool within their organization.

Blogs vs. Wikis 
Blogs are great vehicles for enhancing external marketing and communications efforts, managing brand awareness/reputation, improving lead generation, etc.

Wikis, on the other hand, can be an efficient platform for streamlining processes within the enterprise, either for a given operational unit (e.g., marketing or corporate communications) or for cross-functional collaboration (e.g., between marketing and IT).


  • Streamlined communication. Imagine eliminating more than half of your day-to-day project-related email communiqués that tend to clog your inbox.
  • Virtual access. Users can easily access a wiki online through secure login, view/modify content on the fly and track what others are doing with the content.
  • Archiving ease. Each page revision is kept as a version. Hence, a previous instance of a given page is archived automatically and can be easily accessed.
  • Collaborative input and validation. Wikis are an open content management system since every user has a say and is able to input, modify and vet content accordingly.

autom8 iconBest Practices
A recent wiki-related project has prompted me to jot down some key notes to keep in mind. The same best practices are observed in project management.

  • Define scope. If you don’t define this from the get-go, you’ll easily end up moving out of scope and missing your target deliverable.
  • Establish a timeline. Be clear on mapping out a critical path for your wiki-driven project. A drop-dead completion date will serve to align the wiki’s life cycle with the project.
  • Identify content owners. While wikis are indeed an open platform, users’ settings should be configured so that there is at least one overall owner or point of contact assigned for a given wiki page/section. The onus is on this person to oversee the progress of their respective content entity and keep a pulse on all other entities related to their content.
  • Unified moderation policy. This point is subjective and at times almost impossible to map out and implement, since each user has their own style and approach for managing content. However, at best, a set of over-arching rules should be enforced and observed for content modification and internal collaboration among team members. These rules are based largely on common sense (e.g., refraining from using inappropriate language, offensive personal attacks, airing dirty laundry, etc.) Sound familiar?

Is your organization using wikis? What have you observed and found helpful?

Additional Sources on Wikis

TweetBrain – Crowdsourcing for the Twitterati

Finally! A Twitter-based tool that not only offers powerful social collaboration but also the option to reward its participants!

The brainchild of DeXin Shi (@dexin), TweetBrain is a user friendly, real-time crowdsourcing tool powered and driven by the Twitter user community.

autom8 iconTwitter account
All you need is an existing Twitter ID and password. Simply log in using your Twitter account name and password and your TweetBrain account is automatically created, along with your avatar.

What is your question?
Geared for the crowdsourcing bunch, TweetBrain kicks up the microblogging platform a notch with its signature pitch: “What is your question?”

The question entry field is limited to 400 characters and makes for a more fulsome social experience, especially for those wishing to pose specific questions and require more than 140 characters to do it.

No-brainer Design for Eggheads
Taking pointers from Twitter’s easy-to-use design, TweetBrain reflects a similar GUI (graphic user interface) and reinforces that keeping it clean and simple is the only way to make this online experience work.

Virtually any type of question may be posted on TweetBrain. Each question may be classified from over 25 types of question categories ranging from automotive to writing/editing.

autom8 iconThe landing page posts a running list of the ‘Latest Questions’. The sidey (side bar navigation) is divided into two main buckets: the user’s profile box at the top and the Questions Tracker box below, with links to the ‘Open Questions’, ‘Favorites’ and the very useful ‘Hotlists’ mini nav that tracks Topics, Questions and Rewards on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

When posing a question, the user has the option of placing a dollar value as reward to the best answer posted, along with a deadline for answer submission, as well as a dropdown selection of the category under which the question should be classified.

There are a ton more useful info on the Top Nav where you can adjust your Settings, access a very informative FAQ page, etc. This tool is a MUST TRY!

Crowdsourcing has never looked so easy and felt so accessible. If you are a crowsdsourcing fan and have been itching to experience social media’s next enfant terrible, check out TweetBrain.

About DeXin Shi
Besides TweetBrain, DeXin Shi is also involved in a stealth mode cloud computing software startup.

autom8 iconShe has co-founded and co-owned a successful web hosting company since 1995. Prior to that, DeXin spent 4 years in Belgium. While there, she studied Development Policies, a one-year program sponsored by the United Nations. Her interests in Macro Economics led her to earn a MPA degree from the University of Antwerp. Before going to Belgium, DeXin completed her undergraduate studies in Economics in Beijing, China.  She has a deep interest in the interplays of world politics, economics, and technologies.

DeXin has lived in China, Belgium, Southern California and the Silicon Valley. Her extensive travelling experience in Asia, Europe, North Africa, and US has shaped her business vision and global outlook. DeXin is fluent in Chinese, English and Dutch.