CategoryCorporate Blogging

The Big Picture: Stories told in photos by Boston Globe

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I don’t know how I could have missed The Big Picture, the Boston Globe‘s amazing photo blog. (It has been around since June). The Big Picture tells stories by featuring stunning, awesome, sometimes scary (and always: huge, i.e. 990px wide) photos, put in context by a paragraph of text.

Waxy interviewed Alan Taylor, the programmer and blogger who created The Big Picture in his spare time while working on some community features at boston.com. (Here’s the full interview.) Alan explains how he goes about collecting the images (partly manually, partly automatic) and how he came up with the idea. One core motivation of his was to free pictures and let them speak for themselves, in most newspapers photos are just used as a click farm for ads:

[…] my parents used to always have Life and National Geographic magazines around the house, I fell in love with the visual storytelling way back then. When I was getting my feet wet in the online journalism world as a developer at msnbc.com, I had the good fortune of working alongside Brian Storm and a few others in MSNBC’s photo department, who were just phenomenal as far as selection, editing and presentation. I wondered why other sites didn’t reach that level. Many have by now, but I was still frustrated by the presentation — either far too small, or trapped in click-after-click interfaces that were in Flash or just acted as ad farms.

I won’t even try to put any of the pictures here, it wouldn’t do them any justice. The Big Picture: A must read.

Four success factors for your organization’s blog

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Christian Kreutz of GTZ (the German cooperation enterprise for technical international cooperation and development) has worked with blogs in his organization for several years. In a series of posts (“From A-Z to Organization 2.0”) he shares his experiences with blogging and lists a number of examples and success factors.

Besides the use cases for blogging (like project management, public relations or stakeholder management), I found it particularly interesting to see how he estimates and weighs the different success factors. He identifies four main factors:

  • Preparation: 30%
  • Marketing: 20%
  • Engagement: 30%
  • Sustainability: 20% (“Do not underestimate the facilitation throughout the blog life span.”)

If you are struggling with your organization’s blog or are planning new blogging efforts you shouldn’t miss out on Christian’s post. Do you already run a successful corporate, non-profit or other organizational blog? Please share what you think of these factors!

Presentation: “What the f**k is social media?”

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Always a big fan of neat visualizations, particularly of complex topics, I found I really liked this 101 on social media by Marta Z. Kagan. Titled “What the f**k is social media“, Marta gives a quick, easy-to-understand rundown of the basic terminology paired with well-presented thoughts on why social media matter:

You can find more in Marta’s blog.

(via CyberSoc)

Slideshow: Free Traffic. Social Media Marketing 101

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At Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco, Muhammad Saleem gave this great presentation on Social Media Marketing. It covers the basics as well as some advanced background info, like about the Digg algorithm.

For further reading make sure to check out the references he kindly provided.

(via Matthias Henze)

Your Brand Is: Their Gut Feeling

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First, a brand is not a logo. Second, a brand is not an identity. Finally, a brand is not a product. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. (…) It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.

Good stuff. And straight to the point. Without further commenting, I’d like to share this presentation by Neutron‘s Marty Neumeuer:

(via Simon Dalferth)

Forrester: Online Community Best Practices

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Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang shares this great presentation about Online Community Best Practices. It’s 51 slides packed with useful advices for those of you who are planning to launch an online community of any kind. Note that this presentation won’t save you proper consulting and/or experimenting. But it contains excellent guidelines and is a good point to start from.

Looking into social networks, forums and blogs and other ways of communication to leverage the power of your community? Look no further, or at least have a look at this presentation first.

(Thanks for sharing, Jeremiah!)

Why Small Organizations See The Internet As A Chance, Big Ones See It As A Challenge

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There is a thing about the internet, a notion that has been around since the early days: That the internet offers a chance to anyone to do something big, to start their own projects, companies, or even movements.

While this is true, what’s easily forgotten is that anyone refers mostly to individuals, or small organizations: Think start-ups, freelancers, NGOs, or clubs. The internet gives those small organizations some leverage compared to the big players, it levels the playing field. So small organizations, quite naturally, see the internet as a chance.

For big organizations, namely corporations (but also governments etc.), it’s a whole different story. Before the advent of the internet, these big players were, more or less, in charge; Certainly in charge of their own identities and products, but to some degree also of their customers and markets. They had control, and this has been dramatically changed by the internet. Big players are more likely to see the internet as a challenge, if not outright threat.

By now, major corporations have adopted the internet as a toolset for various purposes: Marketing, content distribution, public relations, customer service; also for internal knowledge work and transfer. But this process is far from finished. In many cases, the internet is just used to transfer traditional processes online without really taking advantage of the new possibilities of networked communication.

Start-ups, freelancers and the like have adapted far more quickly, as they are more agile and less restricted by hierarchies and longstanding rules, regulations, legacy – what’s commonly referred to as package. In these smaller teams, when you hit a problem, you just figure out a solution, a work-around. If you need help, you ping your network and find help in an instant, no long screening and hiring process required. In other words: The internet gives you the speed and flexibility you need to solve problems quickly and without much of a fuss.

Big corporations or governments don’t have that chance, it’s inherently not possible for them to react as quickly and flexibly. Big players need to react more slowly: for security reasons; to have time to evaluate potential long-term outcomes and implications; for their staff and stakeholders to have time to learn and catch up.

In my line of work I’ve worked much more with smaller organizations, NGOs, start-ups, agencies. In a few cases I’ve worked with (or in some cases: at) big organizations like an embassy, a newspaper, a publisher, a provider of medical services. The difference I made were very, very different, including (but not limited to) the speed of decision-making, the work pace, procedures and processes, and evaluation. Personally, I mostly preferred the work style in smaller organizations.

However, the big companies have one advantage: Resources. The biggies have the money to just do stuff, once they decide, and to assign significant manpower to projects. So it’s always somewhat tricky to find the balance between Powerpoint Karaoke vs Getting Stuff Done, between Throwing Money At Marketing vs Building Cool Stuff Quickly. Both are tempting in one way or another.

One issue though remains that still needs to be resolved: Many big companies, particularly in the content industry, see the internet primarily as a threat, as a marketplace for stolen good, as a bazaar of doom. They would, if that was an option, shut down the internet, or regulate it so it catered their own interests. Quite often, their interests conflict with their customers’. The opponents, if you want to call them that, are perceived as thugs, criminals, pirates.

Quite often, these so-called pirates have no intention of hurting or damaging corporations or corporate interests, but prioritize their own interests as users. Sometimes this is illegal, sometimes it isn’t. Almost always, though, it disrupts the companies’ traditional business models. (For more thoughts on this, check out The Pirate’s Dilemma.)

Now, to cut a long story short: How can big organizations adopt these strategies that can be found on the web frequently? How to make use of these tools, ideas, and models to grow and innovate, instead of trying to suppress them? This will need a major mind-change for a great many corporate and government players, and some bold risk-taking. The walk won’t be easy, or free of risks. However, the potential benefits are huge, for both the big players and their stakeholders. I’m looking forward to see this development evolve, and to be part of it.