Blogwell Next Week in San Jose

Through my role at Mayo Clinic, I am a member of the Blog Council, and next week we’re hosting an event called BlogWell. The senior execs in charge of social media from these companies are scheduled to speak:

  • Cisco Systems
  • Graco
  • The Home Depot
  • Intel
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • UPS
  • Walmart
  • Wells Fargo

They are going to be presenting case studies on how they do corporate social media, and talking about these topics:

  • Social media ROI
  • Obtaining management buy-in
  • Monitoring the conversation
  • Disclosure
  • Legal issues
  • Video blogging
  • Internal blogging
  • Branding
  • Creating great content
  • Participating in the conversation
  • Blogging in regulated industries
  • Engaging detractors
  • Dealing with negative word of mouth
  • BtoB blogging

The cost of the event is $200. I’m bummed that I won’t be able to attend myself because of a previous family commitment, but one of my Mayo colleagues will be joining the fun. If you’re based near San Jose or can get there on the 28th, I think you’d find this event well worth it.

Here is where you register.

Yammer: Twitter for the Enterprise

As a member of the Blog Council, one of the benefits we get is opportunities to learn from colleagues at larger organizations. Another is a chance to be on conference calls like the one we had today with David Sacks, CEO of Yammer.

Yammer is Twitter for the enterprise, and seems to have a business model that could enable it to have more consistent uptime than the site with the Fail Whale. It’s free at first for anyone who wants to join, but if the company wants to take over admin rights for the network, the cost is $1/member/month.

I don’t know whether that pricing model will work with the really large organizations (there have to be some volume discounts if you have thousands of employees), but based on my less-than-a-day experience with Yammer (I joined during the Blog Council call) and its recent TechCrunch50 showing, I think it has a good shot of getting acceptance.

Significant advantages:

It’s not a force-fed “The company has bought this nifty networking software, and we want you to use it” solution. When I started an account by entering a work e-mail address (I was user #1 in the domain), I was asked “Who do you work with?” and invited a few close colleagues. We now have 16 members, as the process has continued. If people find it useful and it continues to grow, the company can take responsibility for the network (and the associated costs.) But at that point it would be a viable, ongoing network. It wouldn’t be starting flat-footed. So you only pay if it’s successful.

The interface is really clean and simple. When you join Yammer, you get an e-mail asking you to confirm your e-mail address. But when you invite colleagues by e-mail (they all have to be in the same domain), their act of responding saves them having to do the confirmation step. The fact that they got your invitation proves that they are part of your company.

You can follow (as in Twitter) certain people whose job function or work interests are similar to yours. You also have access to everyone’s updates through the company-wide timeline.

You can use tags to group updates, and can “follow” those tags. So if you want to create a list of blogs, for example, you could do an update like this:

Lee Aase has a great blog on social media at SMUG. The URL is so it should be part of our #blog-list on #social-media. The #facebook curriculum is particularly interesting.

That’s just a hypothetical example, of course. 😉

But then you would have the start of a list of blogs that would be searchable for anyone within your organization. I would think for PR firms or departments, this could be a great way to crowdsource a list through your own employees.

When someone leaves the company, either the admin can remove her access or any coworker can request that she reconfirm her e-mail account.

For small businesses in particular, Yammer seems like a great way to get everyone on the same page.


Security. Any time a business has employees putting data outside the corporate firewall, there will be privacy and data security concerns. If the Yahooligans could get Gov. Sarah Palin’s private e-mails and post them to the Internet, it could happen to one of your employees.

The answer to that is: Your business isn’t nearly as interesting as Gov. Palin’s. As I’ve said with my advice on secret Facebook groups, don’t put information on these platforms that could lead to severe financial loss or criminal prosecution if it were disclosed. But the overwhelming majority of the things about which you collaborate in your company just aren’t that compelling that anyone would want to hack them.

If word somehow leaked that SMUG is on your company’s list of must-read blogs, it could cause embarrassment, I suppose. But it wouldn’t bring AIG-style financial ruin.

I’m looking forward to giving this a run, and I’ll post on what we learn.

Update 9/18/08: Yammer released an API last night so it can be incorporated into other desktop clients like Twhirl. That will let people use one interface to chat within the company on Yammer while they also use Twitter externally. This post on TechCrunch also has a link to a Yammer demo.

Meanwhile: has anyone else had experience with Yammer? I’d love to hear your impressions.

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Blogging 115: The Blogroll

A blog’s Blogroll plays two main roles. When you add a link to your blogroll you are typically either saying:

  1. “I have found this site helpful, and I would like to share it with you” or
  2. “Here is a blog that covers some of the same subject matter as mine, and if you like my blog you might also enjoy this one.”

So politically oriented blogs tend to include like-minded others in their blogroll, for example. And blogs that are about social media often have blogroll links to others that have a similar focus.

The SMUG blogroll has been rather spartan because I haven’t updated it for about 18 months. Here’s how it looked before I began this post:

So I’m taking the opportunity of this course to both demonstrate blogroll management and to bring the SMUG blogroll up-to-date. Or actually, it’s what it looked like immediately after I did this first addition.


Here are some more blogs that fit both of the above criteria, and which I’m therefore adding to my blogroll:

These are only a Baker’s Dozen of the 230 or so feeds in my NetNewswire feed aggregator, but they’re the ones I think will be most interesting for the SMUG student body. I also added links to some of our Mayo Clinic social media sites (on Facebook, YouTube, our News Blog and our Podcast Blog.)

Also, this course is the first one for which I’m using a YouTube screencast instead of a narrated slidecast. I’ll post about how I did it in a future course. I obviously have some things to learn to improve the quality of the screencast (and make it a snappier presentation), but I think having the ability to show exactly how to do things instead of narrating still frames will be really helpful in the show-and-tell courses.


  1. Go to the sites linked above and subscribe to their feeds. See Social Media 102 on RSS feeds if you need a refresher.
  2. If you have a blog, create or update your blogroll. You get extra credit points for adding Social Media University, Global.

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Blog Council Transparency Toolkit Draft Released

Actually, the formal title is the Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit, and through Mayo Clinic recently joining the Blog Council I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in “the end of the beginning” of the discussions in development of these resources.

The Blog Council is an organization of mostly Fortune 500 companies (and their non-profit or not-for-profit equivalents like Mayo and Kaiser Permanente) who are actively engaged in blogging and other social media. (See a membership list here). Mayo is among the newer members, and so our role in the development of these guidelines has been minimal, but the Blog Council’s work on projects like this is a big part of why we wanted to join. It’s helpful to be able to network with and learn from similar-sized organizations as we navigate the social media world together.

As corporations are developing policies related to blogging and social media, there are some good resources out there already, such as on Constantin Basturea’s TheNewPR/Wiki. (You’ll note that it’s in my Blogroll.) It has lots of links to real corporate policies, for instance. One of the strengths of the Blog Council project, though, it that instead of being a collection of individual company policies it is a “best practices” document, and represents the best collective thinking of companies with lots of real-world experience in this arena.

I also appreciate the spirit in which this toolkit is offered: it’s an open source draft. As the broader community gets involved in the discussion, it will be further improved. But anyone can take the documents and use them as starting points for developing their own policies, and the toolkit can be applied beyond just blogs.

The Blog Council isn’t some kind of “policing” or “watchdog” agency, and we’re not here to make binding rules for anyone. But our members united by enthusiasm for social media, and we want our organizations to be involved in an ethical, open, transparent way…and we’d like to do all we can to encourage our corporate colleagues to do the same. The toolkit is just about making it easier for us to share with each other and also more broadly, and to provide a mechanism for community feedback.

For example here’s what the first checklist, on Disclosure of Identity, currently says:

Focus: Best practices for how employees and agencies acting as official corporate representatives disclose their identity to bloggers and on blogs.

When communicating with blogs or bloggers on behalf of my company or on topics related to the business of my company, I will:

1. Disclose who I am, who I work for, and any other relevant affiliations from the very first encounter.

2. Disclose any business/client relationship if I am communicating on behalf of a third party.

3. Provide a means of communicating with me.

4. Comply with all laws and regulations regarding disclosure of identity.

5. We will educate employees, agencies, and volunteer advocates.
– Train them on these disclosure policies
– Monitor to the best of our ability
– Take action to correct problems where possible

6. Pseudonyms
(Option A) Never use a false or obscured identity or pseudonym.
(Option B) If aliases or role accounts are used for employee privacy, security, or other business reasons, these identities will clearly indicate the organization I represent and provide means for two-way communications with that alias.

7. “We Didn’t Know”
All blogs produced by the company or our agencies will clearly indicate that they were created by us.

I hope you’ll check out the Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit, and share your comments either below or on the Blog Council site.

Update: Here’s the post about the toolkit on the Blog Council site. See more discussion from Valeria Maltoni here.

Blog Council Dinner in Chicago

Last night I made it back from Galena, IL, where I spoke to the ILCMA group about blogs and social media (and also played my first 9 holes of golf in a couple of years and achieved a par on the second hole, as verified by this video.)


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