Tag Archives: Twitter

A 2011 retrospective

Eyes looking back

When you reach the end of a sprint, you look back and consider what went well, what went badly and what can be improved. There’s a similar process for waterfall projects when you produce a lessons learned report to share with the rest of the PMO. While I’m sure you floccinaucinihilipilificate about this company’s 12-month performance, allow me to highlight three things I’ve noticed come to the fore in the last 12 months.

You need to demonstrate the tangible benefits your project will deliver as quickly as possible.

Of course, this has always been true. But the pressure to be lean and value-driven is greater than ever, driven I think not just by wider economics but also because the technologies we work with are more mature and with that, so are customer expectations.

Many people are in the third or fourth significant implementation of a content management system, whether for web or across the enterprise. Marketers have already made their initial forays into social media. Not seeing returns on information systems or web engagement simply isn’t good enough. So before putting their hands in their pockets, they’re quite rightly asking what they’re going to get back. As an industry, we need to answer that question quickly and credibly.

Events are being stretched.

People are increasingly participating in events from a distance and after they’ve finished. Television has stretched beyond the screen by broadcasting with hashtags which allow an audience – not all of whom are actually watching – to discuss programme content beyond the control of the programme’s producers. Whether this is music or politics, it’s a long way from the controlled comments policies of newspaper discussion forums. Huge numbers of people are using tablets and smart phones to communicate as they watch TV.

This applies to football matches too, whether from the armchair or the stadium; and very much to music, be it at a festival or on Spotify. The discussion extends way beyond the geography and the duration of the event; supported by the fact that the media doesn’t need to be watched there and then either. There’s gold in those hills, I just haven’t figured out how to extract it yet…

We could understand our market a lot better if we just took the time.

Sales people and analysts have been harping on about big data as the next big thing without too much detail around what it is or why it’s useful. But consider this. People now reveal huge amounts of personal information under highly obfuscated terms and conditions. If you could join up Facebook profiles, Flickr, Amazon, loyalty cards, credit ratings, browser history, and online social interactions, you’d have an incredibly complex and potentially frighteningly accurate picture of your market and how to sell to them.

If you’re a D2C organsiation or want to become one, getting that kind of data and being able to process it in a meaningful way is going to make your current online engagement look… well, pretty poor. Start thinking now about how you can get more data legally and how you might exploit it to reveal business information that will give you a competitive advantage. You can be sure that if you don’t, your competitors will.



I know why the caged bird sings

Small tropical bird in a cage

Janus Boye recently provoked an indignant response from the Twitterati when he proclaimed that he unfollows anyone with more tweets than followers. You should read the comments to gauge the general feelings about that view. It provoked some reflection on my part — which I guess Janus will say was his aim — and I went back to look at how my use of Twitter has evolved over the last two years. And it went something like this: Bewilderment » Discovery » Catharsis » Promotion » Engagement


Like most people first dipping their toes into a new service, I came to Twitter slightly perplexed. What do you tweet if you have no followers? The thing that first drew me was trying to find out how micro-blogging might be used in a business collaboration context. I’d already used SharePoint and Ning and I was intrigued by the broadcast nature of theses services. It was so Enterprise 2.0! It reminded me of how J.P. Rangaswami had made his emails public to all employees in the organisations he was working and I wondered what effect that had on an even more public scale.


So I kept relatively schtum and decided to follow some people I know: @draml, @izahoor, @mcboof and see what they were saying. And they were talking about web content management and I thought, that’s cool: I can find out some new stuff. It’s quick to scan tweets and I’ll read up on a daily basis.

Then I followed the people they were following — which was easier then because Twitter used to show all replies. And I discovered CMS people well worth following, like @sggottlieb and @piewords, as well as people I knew about already like @irina_guseva and @TonyByrne.

So Twitter effectively became a recommendation engine for blogs, of which I amassed quite a few and continue to add to. That gave me plenty to read to keep me on the bleeding edge of the industry.


But then I realised I was saying nothing myself. Resolutely ignoring the adage that it’s better to stay silent and be thought the fool than to speak and remove all doubt, I started to tweet my frustrations at various projects. It was these tweets that put me in jeopardy of Janus’ Law. I was re-living Joachim du Bellay:

Je me plains à mes vers, si j’ay quelque regret,
Je me ris avec eulx, je leur dy mon secret,
Comme estans de mon coeur les plus seurs secretaires.

That was a mistake. Fortunately I never resorted to telling people I was on public transport or making toast.


So I just started retweeting links to useful CMS resources and that got me some followers. And it dawned on me that there was a whole world of business leads out there, so I started searching for key CMS terms and following people who tweeted on the subject, trying to engage with them and see what they were after. It was a bit rough but drew some small successes. So then I just promoting my blogging instead.


That was a turning point, because I could engage more with people on Twitter than through my website. And because I was following other people’s blogs, I could engage with them on Twitter more easily and involve other people through broadcast messaging, just like JP Rangaswami! Twitter has become a sounding board for my thoughts: I can test things out on the Twitterati and get feedback before I have to let my ideas loose on clients. I hope that it’s actually improved the quality of my work.

I had one big #unfollowfriday when it all got a bit too much, but I won’t generally unfollow unless you annoy me, and I’ve a pretty passive character. I also find some kind of moral obligation to follow people who’re following me and can’t bring myself to unfollow people I’ve known for a long time in the real world, no matter how much rubbish they spout. Those that I really like to follow are those who know stuff and are funny; although having now met @adriaanbloem I’m convinced he uses some kind of ghost tweeter.

But the best things are seeing people get involved in real conversations. Take a look at @jameshoskinsPaxman-esque interrogation of @iantruscott about the Alterian roadmap. Or the discussions around #cmshaiku. Twitter can be fun and informative.

So how do I use Twitter for work? I still haven’t figured out if Twitter has a place in the enterprise, but it does allow me to keep engaged with a continually-evolving industry whose ideas appear online in less than 140 characters.