Sunday, May 3, 2009

Your Content Is A Social Object

Your Content Is a Social Object.

But hardly anyone treats it like one.

I use this slide when educating customers, partners, prospects and colleagues on the Open Text Enterprise 2.0 direction. How does our ECM Suite help individual knowledge workers and virtual teams bloom into a new world of the Social Workplace? or Social Marketplace? That's what keeps me busy these days.

So with all due apologies to the artist, cartoonist, blogger, marketer, wine huckster, genius, occasionally "not safe for work" Hugh MacLeod @, here it goes...

The watercooler. The coffeepot. The cafeteria. The sheltered overhang in the parking lot that's known as 'smokers corner'. This is what a Social Workplace looks like. That common location that we flock to for some shared purpose. To drink, to eat, to smoke. Not in solitude but with people we can bump into along the way. And subconsciously we know that there's more to that trip down the hallway than the obvious objective. We know that while we're pouring the sugar, or rinsing the glass or passing around the only working lighter in the rain... we'll talk.

We'll catch up on weekend activities, communally moan over the new cubicle layout, whisper overheard rumours and get the gossip from those guys upstairs. You know the ones - not sure what division they're in or who they report to, but always seem to have the goods on what's going on....

So what brings this diverse group of people together? What inspires conversation among people who normally wouldn't interact in the workplace? ...because they're in different branches, or sit too many levels of hierarchy apart to talk via regular business channels.

It is a Social Object. As is the water, the coffee, the dry wind-free shelter. My last blog post explored the concept of valuing information that is used - of directing effort and energy into what is meaningful to one's audience. That information - content - is what brings people into an application or repository. Content that does not lure eyeballs to it, content that is not findable, content that is too hard to retrieve or understand, content that is locked away from its audience: does it have value? If a tree falls in the forest....

So how do I make my content precious? How do I get people who need it to read it? It's up to us to think about how to get this information in front of the eyes that need it. Make it social, make it accessible, let it be found and consumed.

When companies fret that deployments of ECM systems or online collaboration workspaces are failing, it is often because usage rates are unexpectedly low. No buzz, no compelling reason to contribute, no sense of pressure to participate because none of the cool kids are there. Death by meh.

My challenge: make your content a social object. Make it interesting and compelling enough that people want it, can find it, and will appreciate it.

And to content authors I throw out a call to action: put some skin in the game to promote it to the colleagues you think should need it. Send out links to your slide decks. Publicize your research summaries. Evangelize your business plan, engage the people counting on you to draft the meeting agenda. And not by endless emails. But by taking an interest into what your peers are worried about, what they're tasked with, and finding the places where you can lend a hand with what you know.

If we're so bored or indifferent to our own work that we save it and ignore, why should others act differently?

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