The problem of the internal story

Yesterday Edelman organized a breakfast event together with The Centre for which they had Steve Rubel as guest speaker as well as Patrick Bosteels and Ramon Suarez as specialists at the table for further discussion. Steve’s presentation was interesting (as usual), there’s a good write up about it on Steve’s Posterous.

What struck me most however during the discussion afterwards is how all businesses are struggling with social media, in particular how they were struggling to make it work on an organizational level. A recurring problem that I’ve also noticed plenty of times with some of our own clients. What happens today is that many in the communications department have discovered social media and wish to make use of it. Be it thanks to agency advice, because of their own interest, due to pressure from above, … whatever the reason you see there’s an ask for building solid presence on social media.

In many cases this presence will include telling real stories from real people inside the company, no better way to show authenticity right? And that’s where lies the problem in my opinion. The communication department sees the opportunity of becoming more social, realizes that it cannot do it by themselves for 2 reasons:

  1. It involves the whole company, or at least most departments in the company. Make social media 1% of 100 people’s job instead of 100% of 1 man’s job – dixit Steve.
  2. The real stories are not with the communication department, they are with the people building the products, selling the services, meeting the clients, …

And although they are interlinked, I believe that most of what we’re trying to do today is trying to fix the first problem. I do believe the challenge with the second problem is bigger though, it’s more difficult to tackle.

Steve talked about the necessity to look at what motivates people in the organization to get them involved. Is it money, internal recognition, reviews, … Which button to push to get people to participate. I think that’s very true, but wonder if it can help with that second challenge. I’ve experienced with some small to very large enterprises that and the gap between the comms department who recognized the opportunity and realizes there’s plenty of content within company to be used to actually surfacing that content in a way that is sustainable is too big to overcome.

So how do you overcome that gap? How do you surface the internal stories that matter to your company? What’s your take?

Engagement tracking

When I wrote about AideRSS for the first time about a year ago the company was only a couple of months old. Their slogan said best what it was they tried to do (and succeeded in quite well): Read what matters. AideRSS was built as a service that would help you overcome the struggle keeping up with your RSS feeds. Ideally you would upload your OPML (or add feeds manually) and you could then based on a few metrics skim feeds to only the most popular posts. On top of that it would allow you to create a new feed of that… basically mashing up feeds to make them more readable. I loved it instantaneously (as did Marshall Kirkpatrick apparently).

Not long before that post on AideRSS I had written about the lack of innovation at Technorati and where they were missing some opportunities. Today Technorati has made itself irrelevant: there are way better blogsearch engines out there (like Google’s) and their so-called Authority metric is ridiculous. Anyway – back to the point – the opportunities I called out for Technorati are still there and when I saw AideRSS for the first time I considered they could be the ones to deliver upon these opportunities. Interestingly enough, it looks more and more like it that they will. AideRSS isn’t just that ‘read what matters’ service anymore, it has grown into an engagement tracking service, measuring storytelling ROI as they call it. And that’s a great evolution. They’ve even gone beyond keeping their ranking method as they released a new site dedicated to that ‘Postrank’ and also developed a Google Reader extension for Firefox which I’ve been using for a short while now.

postrank

Hopefully they don’t stop there. When I look at the stats for my own feed, I can only notice that not all metrics are correct: too many comments counted, not enough delicious bookmarks counted, … so some finetuning is still in place. But it remains an overall solid service. And I’m pretty sure Melanie will pick up on this as well ;)

Finally I believe they should give access to the full metrics AideRSS gathers for each blog (delicious, comments, …) and not only the Postrank itself. Imagine that you want to build your own bloglist with the top ‘x’ blogs in category ‘y’ but unlike Mack Collier or Peter Kim  you don’t want to look up all this data manually to collect in XLS etc etc to make your weekly or monthly list. What if I could enter all the blogs I want to track against each other in AideRSS where they let you choose which metrics you want to track them with (only Technorati? or maybe subscribers as well?…) and have AideRSS build my list automatically based on the weight I defined for each metric? You define how often the list needs to be re-calculated. You create a widget for your and participating blogs. You create a weekly/monthly autoposting rhythm to your blog etc etc… Wouldn’t that be a compelling offer? And of course AideRSS can take the learnings for what happens in the backoffice because all of that.