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Some thoughts about Social Media December 11, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Social Networking, Virtual Office.
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1 comment so far

Recently, I signed up for a Twitter account.  It was a research project for me.  It was hard for me to understand the concept of micro-blogging but I thought I would try it and see.  It is kind of a neat tool that gives you the ability to think “out loud”.  Really I have a long way to go in order to understand the benefits and uses of it but I at least have a little better appreciation.

So, last night I was bouncing around some ideas of how you can use these types of communication tools to bridge the communications gap in business and also in the virtual office world.  The ideas were very high level and formative so I jotted them down and figured I would think through them a little more.

While reading through some of my reader feeds this morning I noticed a post by John Jantsch about how businesses should view these products as tools instead of religions.  What a great point.  From a social perspective many people do view the tools as a sort of religion.  John makes a comment in that article that got me thinking:

Use them in smart ways, not necessarily the ways you see other using them.

What a simple yet effective point.  Utilize the tools to fit your needs.  Be creative in employing the tools.  If you see great ideas incorporate them but be willing to be innovative as well.  When reading this post it made me start thinking through some of the ideas I was working on.   Here is a very high level description of some of the ideas and I will probably explore some further in the future.

Potential Twitter Virtual Office Solutions

From a virtual office perspective these tools may be great ideas to help with the communication gap.  In my earlier post about virtual office, I made the statement that “Virtual offices require communication”.  This is so important to the success of that type of structure.  What do social media networks provide?  Communication.

Here’s the dilemma: how do you allow for collaboration/brainstorming of ideas when your team is virtual and works at different times in diverse locations?  Voice or text chat/conference might work but you have to coordinate time between all the players.  Email could be a solution but there is some level of overhead and headache to utilizing this tool.  One potential solution may be a Twitter or Twitter-type tool.

Twitter or a Twitter-type tool allows project teams to think out loud in a collaborative fashion.  The teams would have the ability to brainstorm ideas, work through problems, provide statuses, and help one another by utilizing a medium like this.  A tool like this would allow a resource to throw out an issue or idea and then have the rest of the team to provide simple feedback to the thought.  Once the idea has been thrown out there it can spur thought and allow it to grow.  One big advantage is that it is stored in a persisted manner.  This means that whenever the other teams members are available they would see it.  They could then provide feedback.  This allows for disconnected brainstorming sessions.

It’s still a very high level idea and would need to be solidified and structure provided (maybe I’ll twitter the idea) but I think that it could work to allow idea collaboration.

Marketing uses

Another great article that I read this morning about social media caught my attention as well.  Ivana Taylor wrote a post on the OPEN forum called “Getting Customers on the Cheap Using Social Media“.  Her main focus is utilizing social networks/media to generate buzz for your company.  This is an extremely powerful use for the tools.  She gives the example of  “On the go with Amy”:

Best Western’s “On the Go with Amy” Blog: Best Western hired Amy, an avid traveler who started a blog that discusses her travel experiences.

This type of concept is fantastic because people are interested in reading about the person’s experiences so they subscribe and then they tell others.  This generates buzz and word of mouth advertising.  You must utilize the tools correctly and not simply spam people as that will have the opposite effect but if utilized correctly it can be powerful.

Take a look at some of Ivana’s other examples as well.  She outlines how people have utilized many of the social tools on the Internet to create buzz.  Great ideas.

Post Game Summary

While I am learning how some of the tools work, I do think that they can be utilized to really make your business more efficient and effective.  Whether you are going to utilize them to help your marketing efforts, streamline your teams, educate your virtual resources, inform customers, or whatever else you come up with you should consider them as an option.  My recommendation would be to learn how the tools work and their benefits and then weigh the value of using them.  Don’t simply create a Facebook site because everyone else has one.  In this media you have to find a way to be authentic and potentially unique if you want to succeed.  Also, you have to find ways to use the tools so it benefits you not just so it copies someone else.

Be creative and be aggressive in building efficiency!

If you are interested my Twitter is: http://www.twitter.com/jeremylattimore

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Outsourcing/Flexible Office Space December 9, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Efficiency Process, Green Business, Virtual Office.
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1 comment so far

Virtual offices are going to rewrite the way business is done.  One of the things that is going to occur is a significant switch to use outsourced resources (such as virtual assistants, developers, designers, etc.) and also to move to flexible office space arrangements.

I found a great post by John Jantsch (author of Duct Tape Marketing) on the American Express OPEN network discussing the topics.  In this article John discusses the ideas and the benefits for utilizing them.  It is really a giant efficiency gain if you can find the right resources to fit your needs.

The concepts are going to really run against the traditional thinking though.  Virtual resourcing is a very difficult things for many managers and business owners to accept.  This is because they are putting certain aspects of their business in the hands of outside resources.  This can definitely be a scary prospect at first.  As long as you are able to find the right person it can be an excellent arrangement.

I was recently discussing this topic with a long-term client of mine.  We discussed the benefits of an outsourced arrangement over hiring a full time resource.  The main points that I brought up were the fact that many companies don’t have enough work to support someone full-time year round in the capacity.  Also, many times it is too cost prohibitive to find someone with the experience and skillset desired if you are going to hire a full time resource.   Unfortunately, in many cases, if the company decides that they want to hire a full time employee they end up having to settle for someone who may not be able to complete the tasks as efficiently as they wish.  So, basically they end up having to settle on skillset to meet budget requirements due to salary + benefits scenario.

My point to her was if they had work they needed to get completed outsourcing probably made more sense.  That way they could budget the expense to fit their needs and the resource wouldn’t be there billing when they weren’t needed.  They also would be able to afford a higher priced resource because they wouldn’t paying for the resource over the entire year.  Lastly, if they didn’t have things to do they wouldn’t have to find busy work for the resource.

To me, this arrangement makes a lot more sense in a scenario where you need an expert to do a job.  You don’t have the pay the higher costs all year long.  Also, many experts really aren’t interested in doing busy work.  They want to do what they are experts at.

I think that future is going to bring much more flexible work arrangements for many fields.  Because of expense reductions and a keen focus on profitability efficient processing will be required.

Can you make your business more efficient through efficient arranagements?  Let me know if I can help you.