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Social Content Management

These days it is easy to start a new trend in Information Technology, just add either “cloud” or “social” in front of any existing technology, and there you go. As I’ve already written a couple of articles on cloud computing of late, I decided to add the “social” keyword in front of ECM and came up with Social Content Management. What actually started this article is a twitter jam session I followed a while back on the topic of social content management. It was a more technical orientated discussion, and the view was that current content management systems are ready to handle social content management, as most systems can already handle email and collaboration needs. Social content is just a step further in this evolution. However, the sales people keep on telling us that we need to buy extra systems and functionality in order to manage social media.

Before we go further, I think it’s important to just define what social content is, and why it is so widely popular. Why is it that just about every section of the IT world is so obsessed with getting their products social ready. In my view, there is a lot of hype, and not all social stuff will have a benefit for the organisation. Any organisation that want to get into social anything, first needs a good strategy and business plan as to what exactly they want to achieve out of social. The interaction between users is indeed a big plus, and the ease with which marketing material can be pushed to people in a social network is an incentive for almost all organisations to get into the social hype, at least from a marketing perspective. That is not to say that social content management will add benefit within an organisation. I still maintain my view that social networks is very good content management implementations working on a subset of content that will be available within an organisation, and from this point of view, social content management does have a place in the modern organisation.

Social media does have a number of advantages for an organisation, firstly is the obvious marketing potential and access to current and potential customers. Another advantage of social media is the ease of use and easy platform on which more applications can be built. The most important though, in my opinion, is that content can be pushed to employees. And it is this last one that I would spend the rest of the article on, because this is where organisations can really benefit.

To put all this into perspective, let’s take a real world example; let’s pretend we are at a function, 100 guests, of which you know 20. The 100 guests are split evenly between people in your specific industry and people who are not, and from the 20 you know, 10 of them are in your industry and 10 of them are not. As with most functions, the 100 people will tend to move in and out of smaller groups, discussing different things, not all of them related to what you are interested in. This is the crux of a social media network; you can join groups, get info, give your opinion, and move to different groups. All the talk would not be related to what you are interested in, and even if there are talks about a topic you feel strongly about, some will be better and some will be worse. But the object of all this is to build knowledge and to expand your horizons.

Collaboration would be the same as spending the whole evening in the company of the 10 people you know that is in the same industry as you. Although you will get great insights into your industry, you won’t get the view of the industry as seen from outside. Email can be seen much in the same way, you might have a wider reach, but the feedback will be the same. The problem with both of these solutions is that you don’t get the full picture of all the conversations.

Now if you could have been tracking every conversation as once, give your opinion or listen to other opinions, all at the same time, that is close to the social media environment. The management of social media involves this, the tracking of what is going on in your organisation, as well as the tracking of content about your organisation. But probably the biggest aspect of social media is that it pushes content. And this is the aspect of social content management that is missing from the current content management systems.

So even though current content management systems do cater for some elements they do not cater for the full spectrum of social media.

As always, your view on social content management will be influenced by your organisation strategy. If you want to manage your emails and enable collaboration in your organisation for project groups, current content management systems are sufficient to enable this. But if you want to empower your employees and broaden your knowledge base inside your organisation, then the current content management systems are not there yet. I have been involved at organisations where the same type of investigation is being done by two or three departments, unaware of one another. A good social content management strategy will circumvent this type of duplication. It will also better enable your employees to know your company and products better.

To summarize, in my view, although social content can be handled in current content management systems, they still lack in other areas. I would like to see a move in content management to a more social context, where employees in an organisation knows more on what is happening and can participate more in the overall organisation direction and strategy. In my opinion this will lead to better product and knowledge development within an organisation, and happier employees working in the organisation.

  1. 14 February, 2012 at 01:40

    Agree with your points here. Cisco has an enterprise social/collaboration tool that I’ve seen working well for them internally. What’s touch is getting that fully integrated into the ECM platform in a way that everyone will use–not just the younger workers.

  2. 15 February, 2012 at 16:50

    Hi Cynthia, thx for the feedback 🙂 Is Cisco using an inhouse social/collaboration tool or a commercial availble one?

    • 15 February, 2012 at 16:54

      Nico, one of their collaborative tools was developed in-house, and one is acquired/adapted tech. The people I worked with there were amazingly productive using these tools, and we’re talking some fairly senior people. Part of the reason for that is that Cisco really embraces the remote or geographically displaced worker, and brings him or her fully into the projects on which they work. I realize I sound as if I work for them, but I was only a contractor for a year or so and am now in the WCM space.

      • 16 February, 2012 at 18:56

        Cynthia, pity we can’t get more info on the workings of their system, but thx for sharing 🙂 Sounds as if they are well positioned from a collaboration/social front 🙂

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