Wednesday, March 08, 2006

User Contributed Content - What's New

Instead of rehashing the outline of what I've already covered in my classes at myBusinessGym on blogs, wikis, podcasts, and tags and how they can be used to promote small businesses on the Internet, I'll use this posting to talk about what I learned talking to Kevin Kearney, the User Experience Lead at Avenue A/Razorfish in NYC.

Here are my top 10 take-aways from today's meeting of the Knowledge Management Group of Greater Philadelphia.

  1. Blogs are being used on intranets to develop connections between people who ordinarily would never meet in a large corporation. Apparently, the tools are straightforward enough and the payoff is great enough to make the time to share perspectives, questions, and progress reports.
  2. Live blogging (releasing posts via wireless laptops at a trade show keynote, for instance) follows the creed to use the tool to share content that's unique and timely.
  3. A "soup can" is an annotated list of links that are of intest to a particular group within a company. "Hey, did you see list of 'most embarrassing situations' that Pete posted? Check out the sales team soup can."
  4. The Wikipedia site gets 50x's the Internet traffic that the Encyclopedia Britannica site got at its peak in late 2004. A dramatic sign of the power of relevance!
  5. Corporate wikis are especially useful in democraticizing information sharing within large organizations, with slow approval cycles. The more people are able to contribute, the more complete the information respository is created.
  6. Social networks like LinkedIn are popular in corporate circles for several reasons, including having control over a personal "place" on the web (easier to create than a web site and that looks nicer than a geociites template!).
  7. Topic sites like MeetUp and 43 Things attract participants across all geographic boundaries to gather around a common interest.
  8. Topic tags offers a great deal of promise because of the collaborative way that colleagues can enrich a posting through their own contributions about a contribution. "Oh, I didn't realize that the photo of the Titan prototype also captured the fuel cell research center in perfect light. I'm glad that Don added that tag!"
  9. Business objective first, then spiffy technology as a means to get there.
  10. The whole idea of adding user-contributed tools is to offer a "back channel" for people to offer content, connections, and richness to a company that the established resources could not cajole or inspire.

A favorite quote: “You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.”
-Steve Jobs, 2005

Building a stronger business means devoting a portion of your time and resources in experimenting with new technologies and tools to see how you can use them to better serve your customers and run a more profitable business.

What's been your experience? Share what you've learned.

Bill Ringle is a business growth strategist and eBusiness Expert. Visit for more info on Bill's companies and projects.

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