Evolution of Social Media at Cisco (Part 2 of a Series)

I had another fun conversation today with Amy Paquette of Cisco. Our first chat was in June: see my post on “The ROI of Cisco’s Social Media Program.” Amy and I plan to chat at least once a month “until it doesn’t make sense for us to chat anymore” (but that will hopefully never happen because she is so much fun!) Their social media program is so evolved that they already have people who specialize in things like “virtual communications” on Second Life. Something to aspire to : – )

It is interesting how the Social Media Program at Cisco evolved — it certainly did not happen overnight. One thing that fueled the fire: as the external communications team was putting together their social media program, the internal comms team was simultaneously building a robust internal community. They had several hundred internal blogs before the external program took off. Amy said:

Having internal blogs is a great way for [potential external bloggers] to find their voice, and learn how to communicate with their blog. People feel more free to ask questions.

Probably the biggest differentiator at Cisco is the culture. Social media has support at the highest level of the company — John Chambers regularly reads the external blog posts: Cisco has 12 Corporate Blogs with more than 80 bloggers. And let’s face it, even the staunchest “blog haters” might waiver when the boss reads ’em.

Planning a Social Media Program: Gia Lyons gives advice

Gia Lyons took some time out of her busy day just to give me some advice and help me navigate the stormy waters of the social media landscape. She said:

“2007 was the year of Web 2.0 — and now everyone has figured out what that is. This year is about how to use Web 2.0 tools to make or save money.”

Obviously there is lots of buzz around social media and Web 2.0. The hard part is putting together a business plan and finding case studies with ROI. Gia gave me some names of folks who are in similar roles as mine at other large corporations. It sounds like they are doing some cool stuff, I’ll report back on any great pearls of wisdom that they cast my way : )

She also showed me this great blog post about those who are less-than-enthusiastic around Social Media tools. My first reaction was “oh, nobody at my company is like that.” But then I realized, they might be thinking some of these things and just not saying them!

“Norman Naysayer,” the Enterise Octopus arch nemesis

Meeting “THE Gia Lyons” …

Yesterday we had another presentation from Jive on their Clearspace app. Definitely a promising tool for our company, something we would like to leverage both internally AND externally.

But the best part of this week (so far) was meeting Jive’s Social Software evangelist, Gia Lyons. Here is how she was introduced in the meeting maker:

“Introduction of THE Gia Lyons:
Gia is a collaboration guru and industry pundit. She was with IBM for the last 10 years working directly with their largest clients on social productivity software initiatives. She’s well versed in industry and technical knowledge and can lead an interesting discussion on how Jive’s products map to your requirements.”

Listening to her talk was like music to my ears…and the best part is she has agreed to chat with me about Social Media Evangelism. I can use some encouragement right about now.

The first meeting of the new Social Media Roundtable

Last month I attended the New Communications Forum which was really eye opening. But probably the best part about it was the chance to meet other people who are in the same boat as I am. Being the “Social Media Expert” is fun, but it’s even better when you’re in a conversation with others who are doing similar things.

So I took the opportunity to gather together a few friends from the conference. Not everyone could attend, so I wrote this quick summary of what we discussed. On our first “round table” call, Kate (from a consumer tech company) had some good suggestions for how to get more buy-in or enthusiasm around your blog:

  1. create an editorial calendar to give some visibility around the blog topics. Let people know what you’re planning to post, for example, whether it is a video or text, and share the calendar on a wiki or Google documents.
  2. We discussed the fact that other internal people are creating videos and posting to YouTube. She is in Corporate Marketing, and has asked people to work with her directly. I am taking a more “hands off” approach, and I created a channel for other people’s YouTube videos. I am trying to get the word out to centralize our videos.
  3. Kate told us about a presentation given by Marilyn Waters about how Disney Parks & Resorts is leveraging online communities and user-generated content. They put out a request for 10 moms who would be interested in participating in a “Walt Disney World Moms blog” answering questions about trips to Disney parks (“best attractions for a 6-year old,” “best place to change a diaper,” etc.). They got 10,000 applicants, so they created an “affinity group” for the other 9,990 applicants! We should all be so lucky as to have such an enthusiastic following of our brands!

The success of the Disney site just underscores the fact that we are all at different stages of buy-in and implementation of our social media programs. For example, Janie (From a large non-profit agency) told us that her board of directors approved the social media budget, but she is still in the planning stages of launching her blogs. I think that Janie has a great opportunity to leverage consumer generated content…and Janie has also gotten quite active on Twitter. I suggested she try using survey monkey to gather info, since from my experience Twitter is not usually a two-way street for information. (You ask a question and don’t usually get answers.)

Another topic we discussed was how to help change peoples’ behavior — Marketers always have a message to send, and a story to tell. We want them to first listen to what is being said in the blogosphere. In his opening Key Note at the New Comms Forum, Joe Jaffe said “The storytellers are the bullies.” Richard@Dell also gave a great keynote on the benefits of using social media and listening to customers. But I think we all agreed that changing attitudes and behaviors is the toughest (and most frustrating) part of this “fun” job.