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A Suggestion for External Communication

Part Two of my improve Nokia’s Communication Idea Set.
One of the frustrations in participating in projects / campaigns with WOM World can be the difficulty in communication and getting timely information. This is not news to the folks at WOM World (we had a big conversation last week about this) nor to other folks who work on campaigns/projects with them. Now let me break this down into the problem, the extenuating circumstances, and the proposed solution:
The Problem:
I love participating in projects / campaigns / whatever you want to call it with WOM World & Nokia but I find myself frustrated that much of the information that is needed to complete my side of the project right either comes late or quite a bit into the campaign. Take the example of the lack of Nokia viNe widget for the last month and a half of that campaign and then finding out about a similar widget by some other team at Nokia via another blog.
The Circumstances:
(please note that the following are not unique to WOM World or Nokia, but happen all over the world in a variety of businesses)
1) Nokia is working with at least 3 external agencies / vendors on any one campaign: Interactive ad agency, WOM World/1000 heads for the outward facing blogger interface & social media marketing, a possible pr agency, etc. This is on top of the one or two or more internal Nokia teams that may be involved in the project (the developers who are making the service, the marketing team, etc). This is a lot of cats to herd. And it is a lot of folks to be informing each other of what each member of their teams is up to, as well as what other teams at Nokia may be up to that might help the campaign/project at hand, all while on a tight deadline.
2) Almost every company on the planet has teams that are understaffed and overworked. It is a reality of the business system. ‘Nuff said.
3) WOM World’s primary mission is to follow social media and bloggers and then let the world know about what those folks have said. WOM World does not create its own content. At the same time as WOM World is blogging about what we are blogging about, they are also sending and receiving mobile devices all over for trials, and participating in / conducting Nokia campaigns with bloggers and social media folk, as well as interacting with Nokia and other agencies to make sure that WOM World’s portion is working. See #1 & #2 above and you get the point.
4) Ok, I could now talk about how different cultures view the dissemination of information or lack thereof, company cultures, and transparency v. Finnish mind reading tricks, but I won’t muddle up the subject at hand with more details or conjecture.
The Proposed Solution:
Provide a back channel for each of the projects / campaigns as a way of getting information out there and keeping folks informed, and as a way to build community.
What do I mean by a back channel? Before Nokia Open Lab in Sept. most of the participants had very little information other than initial email invite, as the website for the event was not up yet, so Roland Tanglao set up a wiki to help us communicate and share more info that folks may have gleaned.
By having this wiki, the Open Lab participants were able to share our flight times to meet up at the airport, information about the event, information about Helsinki, and most importantly – after the event – links to our blog posts, photos, tweets, etc that we created about the event.
Instead of talking less in public spaces about the Open Lab because we had our own private place to talk to each other, we talked more in public because we had more information and we felt more empowered.
So, I propose that for each campaign / project that Nokia and WOM World work on (either together or separately) with bloggers and social media folk, that a wiki or Friend Feed or an old school link portal or some other way for us to aggregate all the information we need to share with each other, as well as a listing of all the posts / tweets / etc that we have written about the campaign / project.
Arguments Against:
Since I floated this idea by WOM World’s Donna and Siobhan last week, I already have the objections to my idea. Of which the biggest objection is that if a wiki is set up, then the fear would be that the participants would just chat to each other on the wiki / forum / back channel and would not post about the project.
Counter Argument:
In the instance of the Nokia Open Lab 2008, having the wiki did not stop us from blogging and tweeting about it. In fact, we posted more and responded to each other in our blogs because we were sharing information and we had built a community.
WOM World may have posted a few links to our writings during and after the event, but by having a back channel we were able to self-aggregate all of our social media and blog links about the Open Lab and it can be viewed by the public which only increases the Long Tail effect for the event.
When we were talking last week Siobhan suggested that FriendFeed would work within the constraints of WOM World’s primary mission, as it could aggregate all the posts for all of the participants of any given project. But, unless FriendFeed has good filters for all of the incoming feeds, we would also see all of the other posts by the same folks.
A wiki or like, either on the WOM World site or external wiki like PBwiki, would also allow us to share links and information that would be helpful during the project, like my finding the Maps + Photography widget last week, it would allow not just the participants but the whole world see a complete or almost complete list of the posts on the project both during and after in one place, as well as build community.
The Conclusion:
Please help those of us without degrees in Finnish Mind Reading out. I would love to know who the other participants in the Nokia viNe project are, I know a few, but it would be great to follow all and not just thier viNe posts but also their blogs and other social media, as well as to share information that will allow all of us to better participate in the project.
Information + Links + Community = a Big Win for Nokia in the long run.

2 Responses to “A Suggestion for External Communication”

  1. Mike Maddaloni - The Hot Iron

    Hey Jen… This is an excellent piece, not only for Nokia in this case but for any firm engaging – or looking to engage – in social media!
    A lot of what I have seen is where companies put something out there and they expect (hope?) the social media aspect “takes care of itself.” You have sighted a case where not only it isn’t completely working, but a way to have a continuous dialogue between the bloggers and the firm, and using a tool like a wiki can facilitate those conversations.
    Your example of Roland’s blog is one I use a lot – here was a case where there were 35+ people around the world who didn’t know each other and most of us connected in a relatively short time!
    Thanks for your thoughts on this, and I – as well as you and others – surely are looking forward to how this unfolds…
    mp/m

  2. Roland Tanglao

    please no more cross-posting 🙂 ! don’t know where to leave my comments here or at Darla Mack’s blog
    Yes the wiki works really well in a situation where you have no info but want to collaborate. I don’t think a Google Doc would have work so well but I am guessing that’s what normal ‘non social media types’ would have used if anything at all. Clearly an email list wouldn’t have worked as well IMHO!