Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

ESNchat-smallOne of the most satisfying things I’ve done professionally in recent years is to start the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat in September 2013, to see it grow through the 13 months I hosted it, and now to see it have new life and new leadership going forward through The Community Roundtable (@TheCR). After sensing a void in the world of enterprise social networking in the summer of 2013, I started the chat to provide a regular, free, vendor-neutral place where practitioners and enthusiasts involved with businesses’ internal social networks could share insights and help develop the field of enterprise social.

My friends at TheCR were receptive to the idea of them becoming the leaders for the chat when I approached them in August 2014. They kindly agreed to take on the challenge and as of October 2 they have been the very capable facilitators of the chat. Now that a little time has passed since the transition, I’ve had time to ponder the journey of that 13 months. I’ll share a few simple reflections on the experience here.

I recall the first chat on September 12, 2013. I had secured the domain name and the Twitter persona, discussed it with a number of people in the field, and started promoting it as best I knew how (which wasn’t very well in hindsight). I recall how nervous I was before that first chat wondering if anyone would show up. Had I done all this planning in vain? Was it going to be a giant failure that embarrassed me publicly? I was jittery as the hour approached from the uncertainty of it all.

Thankfully, people showed up (phew – that was a relief)! We had a great discussion and the chat was immediately an important part of my week and an opportunity to try to move the needle of enterprise social networking forward in some small way.

While the subject of enterprise social networking is near and dear to my heart as the community manager for Humana’s ESN, this effort was never under the auspices of my work. It was just Jeff’s little effort for good or bad, for success or failure. I never counted a single hour of the time devoted to #ESNchat as time working for Humana. That makes it all the more satisfying now that over a year later we typically have about 40 participants, hundreds of tweets, and excellent conversation every week.

I am thankful for the 225 participants we had over that first 13 months and I enjoy seeing new faces every week in the chat. I am thankful for the great archive of topics we have accumulated over time and continue to build under TheCR’s leadership.

There were a couple of surprises and disappointments along the way. For example, I woefully underestimated the amount of time per week it took to host a one-hour Twitter chat. I didn’t track the time in detail, but my best guess is that it took on average about an hour a day seven days a week due to the planning, archiving, promoting, and notifying participants of updates. That was a bit more than I bargained for, but it was time well spent.

The only real disappointment I experienced in the 13 months hosting is totally my own doing in that I did not bring to fruition the ESN Handbook I envisioned as a collaborative effort among participants. Given the existing commitment of time just to pull off the chat (along with other work and volunteer activities), I couldn’t get the handbook done. There’s a collaborative ESN Handbook eBook/website out there just waiting to be created and annually updated for some entrepreneurial group (hint, hint).

Now that I’m a regular participant in the chat with no leadership responsibilities, I get to experience weekly what those 225+ others have experienced rather than frantically trying to host the chats and simultaneously take part in the conversation. Frankly, it’s a bit more fun now for me and a lot less stressful.

One of my key lessons learned for 2013 was to take risks. When I wrote about that end-of-year lesson, I had #ESNchat in mind. It would have been easy to bemoan the absence of such a free, public forum for ESN practitioners. It would have been easy to think someone else should do it. It isn’t easy for introverts like me (yes, I’m an introvert) to put myself out there so publicly and try to start something that could go down in flames quickly. But I gave it my best shot and with the regular participation of many talented, knowledgeable professionals whom I have come to know and respect, we succeeded.

Now when I sit back for a moment in chats led by TheCR, when I see new faces introduce themselves, when I read the kudos from participants who benefit from the chats, and when I develop new professional relationships with fellow ESN enthusiasts, I smile a quiet but very satisfying smile like a proud papa watching his child grow up and go out into the world on his own.

Chats only succeed when there are multiple people chatting. I may have started it, but only through others’ involvement has it continued, and I am grateful for each participant. I look forward to seeing where it goes from here. Where will it be in one year? Two Years? What innovations will TheCR introduce (such as the #ESNchat Mini-Decks they’ve already introduced)? What actions will come from the chats? What takeaways will be implemented in businesses of all shapes and sizes that make a positive difference in those organizations’ internal communications and social collaboration?

There is no way of knowing the answer to those questions, but I am quietly confident that such applications will be made and the impact will be significant over time.

Thanks to all who joined me in the venture. Continue to join me and so many others weekly on Thursday afternoons at 2pm Eastern time as TheCR leads us into the next phase of ESNchat. The future is bright!

ESNchatWhat a whirlwind of a week! The last several days have been among the most hectic, exhausting and exciting days I have had in a long time. Besides the normal activities that contributed to this nearly 70-hour work week, there were two lengthy evening software upgrades to the test and production environments of our enterprise social network (ESN) at work. I was asked on Thursday to be the featured guest Friday in a video and Twitter chat on the subject of ESNs. That started a scramble to make sure I had the right hardware and an acceptable location from which to participate in the video, as well as spending time thinking through the questions we’d discuss. But the kicker for the week was the first ever #ESNchat held on Thursday, September 12.

#ESNchat is a weekly Twitter chat I started for people like me who work with their company’s internal or enterprise social network. While there are other excellent chats, organizations and resources for those of us doing online community management (and I take part in several), most of them tend to focus more on external communities which companies establish for customers (such as those on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other public and private communities) rather than internal ones made up solely of the employees of one company. I did my homework to make sure I wasn’t duplicating something already in existence, and when it became apparent a couple of months ago that there was a gap to fill, I started putting things in place to start #ESNchat. I could not possibly be happier with the kickoff week for it.

I am thankful to all who participated in the inaugural chat on Thursday. I loved the number of participants, their eagerness to take part in the discussion, the broad cross-section of businesses represented, the wisdom shared in response to the questions, and the further discussion spawned by those comments. One of the participants, Carrie Young, expanded on one of her popular ideas she expressed in the chat with a brilliant blog post the next day called “You Might Die Today from a Lethal Spider Bite, and Other Pressing Enterprise Concerns.” I look forward to Carrie being our featured guest on #ESNchat Sept. 26.

If you’d like to see the archive of that discussion, you’ll find a link to it on the archives page. Also check out the schedule of future chats. There is a link at the top of this blog to more info about it.

My thanks also to Tim McDonald, Director of Community at Huffington Post. Tim is also the founder of the weekly #cmgrhangout video and Twitter chat. He saw the info about #ESNchat on Thursday and invited me to be the guest on Friday’s #cmgrhangout to discuss ESNs. You’ll find that video and tweet archive here.

As I think back on the craziness of the past few days, a few thoughts come to mind that make the hectic pace, lack of sleep and food, running around and losing a couple of pounds (temporarily) worthwhile:

  • There is great satisfaction in identifying a need in a profession and taking the initiative to try to do something about it. Hosting a Twitter chat isn’t a matter of showing up a few minutes beforehand one day and tweeting a few questions spaced over the hour, hoping people will show up and participate. There was research to be done to hone in on a worthwhile topic and need that is not currently being met. There was effort in deciding on a name, reserving domain names and Twitter handles, researching which supporting tools felt like the best fit for managing the chat experience, setting up info online about the chat, talking with fellow ESN community managers and others about the idea, determining a topic schedule, detailing the questions and planned tweets down to the minute for the first chat, promoting the chat through various channels, establishing new relationships with like-minded people from other organizations to help gather a small but solid crew of initial participants who promised to be there to help get it started, spending hours afterward following up with people, archiving in a friendly manner the contents of the chat, plus more that I’m probably forgetting to mention. It is no small commitment to stay with this indefinitely into the future, but I know it will be worth it for me and for others because of the knowledge shared and relationships established.
  • None of us is smarter than all of us. It is worth the effort to cross organizational and additional barriers to connect with other professionals to share ideas, questions, insights, issues and solutions. That’s why professional organizations and communities of practice exist. That why it’s awesome when employees of competing companies can come together in a Twitter chat like #ESNchat and share ideas (without divulging any corporate secrets) to learn from one another and advance the field.
  • We always need to be thinking about next practices, not just best practices. This blog is named “Next Practices” because I want to always be pondering questions like, “Where do we need to be several years down the road?”; “What can I do today to help shape the future into what I believe it can be (whether anyone else believes it or not)?”; “What is the best solution to problems we face, regardless of perceived constraints, and how can I then eliminate those constraints one by one in order to pursue that best solution, not settling for second best?” Best practices are good to know and may help you and your company mature in many ways, but best practices from yesterday aren’t necessarily what is needed for tomorrow, next year and further down the road. What we need are next practices. It is my hope that #ESNchat helps spark creativity and excitement related to enterprise social networks in such a way that it spawns some next practices.

To all who had a hand in the beginning of #ESNchat, thank you! I hope to see many of you each Thursday on Twitter from 2-3pm Eastern.

balloonsSometimes it isn’t until a little time passes before we realize we have learned something.  In this case, I realized today that my vacation last week has taught me something I needed to learn (again).  It isn’t a new lesson.  it isn’t profound.  But to a task-oriented person like myself, it is a much needed lesson that I have to learn over and over again because I eventually forget it and return to my old ways.

The lesson is the title of the post – You have to let some things go.

The immediate context for the lesson is in the amount of time I had been spending on Twitter in the evenings for many months.  I couldn’t stand to not scan every tweet daily from the hundreds of people I follow, so I would find myself spending up to two hours at home at night reviewing my Twitter stream, following links to articles, retweeting what I found interesting, etc.

Then came last week’s vacation when I intentionally limited my time on Twitter to maybe 30 minutes on average while doing something else like watching a newscast.  That only was enough time to review a few hours of tweets, meaning that I missed tweets from the other 20-22 hours per day.  That was hard.  I soak up information and enjoy doing so.  To voluntarily turn off the spigot when more was there for the taking was difficult.  Yet, I enjoyed the freedom last week from having more time for other things.

This week I have continued the practice and so far it’s working out for me.  I’ve had time to get other things done in the evening, or even go to bed a little earlier.  The world has carried on and has not to my knowledge ended because I missed reading several hundred tweets daily.

The larger lesson for me isn’t about Twitter at all, of course, but about being disciplined enough to prioritize my life and what I want to get done, being the one in charge of that list rather than feeling like I am being controlled by a merciless task list that demands too much from me.  That is tough for those of us with a strong task-oriented approach to life.  That’s why I have to keep learning the same lesson over and over.

So it was a pleasant surprise when midway through my week after vacation I realized that I did not plan and did not miss spending large chunks on time on Twitter the last few days.  I visited the site off and on as desired.  I even participated in a couple of weekly tweet chats, but then I walked away.  It felt pretty good to turn the spigot off.

Are there self-imposed demands in your life that really don’t need to be there?  Are you placing more items on your personal to-do list than anyone else expects, and than you ought to expect from yourself?  Are such demands serving as stressors and roadblocks to accomplishing other goals instead of serving as helpful additions to your life?  If so, maybe it’s time to let some of them go.

What do you think?

Twitter logoI wrote a blog post in March of 2012 claiming that Twitter is the most important learning resource on the planet.  I still believe that.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t spend 1-2 hours per day perusing my personal Twitter feed in addition to the hours I spend there daily for my work.  For nearly three years, I’ve been deadly serious about using Twitter to connect to people I admire across several disciplines as well as with numerous friends and colleagues.

I thought I would write this post to give you a little taste of what my Twitter life is like in a typical week.  To that end, copied below are a number of posts I’ve made or posts others made that I deemed worthy of retweeting, along with a little commentary.  These don’t represent nearly all of my tweets in a week, but they are at least representative of the categories I give the most time to on Twitter.  I hope it sparks some interest on your part to dive in to the platform if you are not active there yet, and I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter @JeffKRoss if you’re so inclined.  I’ll gladly return the favor if I like what you post.

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