Socializing Content Creation


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In this presentation we gave at LavaCon2013, we show you how to socialize content creation and explain the benefits of doing so.

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  • Marya:
    Our talk is called Socializing Content Creation. We’re going to explore what that even means. But first…
  • We’re the documentation team at Jive Software!
  • Jive is a social business enterprise network spanning blogs, document collaboration, forum discussion, private messaging, and an activity stream that ties it all together.
    We work in an environment where you can’t do anything else but work in social business tools.
    We also have an active customer support community using the same software
    We rarely use email.
    Working this way has changed our approach to tech docs.
    The primary differentiator isn’t technology, it’s culture
  • Working in a place where collaboration is a given gives us amazing information access, but you can help move your community toward greater collaboration to improve your content.
    You’re surrounded by people who can help you make your content better, but just being connected to a community doesn’t make it happen. You need to actively engage. This presentation will give you some ideas about how to do that.
  • Marya: We’re going to show the Jive product but also showing how you can use these same techniques with whatever tools you have. Now I’m handing off to Melanie.
  • Are you social? Why or why not? There’s an impression that being social on Twitter or LinkedIn or any other online community is ephemeral, wasting time, or frivolous. Or, just self-promotion and gross PR. It’s for extroverts.
    We are now LIVING in an online social world. If you’re not already using social tools at work, you will be. If you’re not already using social tools outside of work to talk about what you do at work, consider giving it a try. You stand to learn more about your profession, what kinds of things others are doing, and what kinds of things you can do, too.
    Being social: it’s not about PR in a gross way. It’s not about self-promotion. It’s not about being an extrovert. It’s about letting other people know what you do, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’ll be working on next. It’s about bringing yourself and your team more interesting work. It’s about helping the organization see what you do and understand the value you provide. And ultimately, it’s about improving your content for all of your stakeholders.
    Before I got hired at Jive, I’d been using social tools for work and play. I got on Twitter as @seniortechwritr just to see what it was all about. And I was transformed. I saw what other people were doing and it opened my eyes to all the things I could do, too. So when I got hired at Jive, I was thrilled. I was thrust into a workplace where I used only social tools to get my work done. Bottom line: I’m a better writer at work and I don’t use email anymore to do it. Also, I have a lot more friends at work now because I don’t engage with only the three engineers whose help set I’m writing.
    So, how do you get started?
  • (Have demo instance Amber Isen’s profile showing on screen)
    Which social tools do you have available today that could help you get your work done?
    SharePoint, forums, wiki, intranet, IBM Connections, an internal blog, a file server, LinkedIn, whatever. Even your Outlook signature could help here. Many of these tools feature personal profile pages and team pages. We’re going to start with your personal page.
    Why do you want a good personal profile page?
    When you have a picture, your contact information, and your bio with your work skills and outside interests, it makes you a real person. When you’re a real person who likes mountain biking, beer, and writing technical documentation, people are less likely to approach you with raging documentation complaints, and more likely to approach you with interesting and helpful suggestions for improving your content. They can also recognize you in the break room and start a conversation with you about the Oxford comma or how to punctuate “it’s”.
    What does a good personal profile do?
    From Jive’s former Community Manager and social expert, Melissa Barker: The best profile tells the story of “you”…who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and why it is of value to connect with you.
    Start with three keywords that best describe you?
    Think about what you want people to associate you with (ex., DITA, technical writing, usability). Run searches in LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social places you hang out to see what kinds of results you get with your keywords.
    As an aside, LinkedIn search works the same way that Google search does. How high you appear in search results is based on keywords and the number of 'backlinks' (in the case of LinkedIn, how many connections you have) to your profile. It is also worth noting that your LinkedIn profile is indexed by Google - meaning, when someone searches for your name, your LinkedIn profile will show up on Google. Social business search is beginning to work this way, too. When you engage and are active, you have a better chance of your colleagues and customers finding you.
    SEO is good for you. Again, it brings you better projects.
  • Your checklist: name (use whatever name you go by, make it easy to find you), photo (use the same smiling photo for all outlets so you’re easily identifiable), your preferred ways to get in touch and your contact information
    Headline (on LI, you have 120 chars! Use them.). A good formula: Me | My Value | My Certs or Skills, something like Sr. Tech Writer at Jive Software | DITA Enthusiast | 13 Years’ Experience)
    Your Statement (critical): what’s your passion? Your philosophy? Include an invitation to connect. In Jive, we have Follows. Write your statement in the first person so that you’re a real person and include no more than two paragraphs.
    Extras: location, industry, links, vanity URLs, profile summary specialties, skills, jobs with descs (bulleted lists of accomplishments that use your keywords).
  • (Show the Documentation group in the Jive Community on screen).
    Why do you want a good team page?
    It’s just like your personal page: when people know you, see a picture of your smiling faces, and know that you are championship knitters outside of work, they are predisposed to treating you nicely. They will want to engage you and help you write better content for internal and external customers.
    Start again with three keywords.
    What are three keywords best describe your team’s value or contribution to the success of the organization? Imagine which words people will type in to search for you. Examples: Documentation | UI Text Review | Customer Answers; Writing | Product Information | Online Help; Tech Pubs | Help Topics | Content Management.
    Then move on to the basics:
    Photos: you’re personable, approachable, and just waiting to help customers. Here are the smiling faces of our team members. Click-through to read their individual bios.
    Summary: describe the team’s approach, passion, and philosophy about the work contribution and the value they bring, esp if you have metrics (“Last year, Tech Support resolved 50K support cases with help links, saving the company $100K. This year we’re on track to double that.”)
    Content: featured blog posts, featured documents, pointers to your help sets, other helpful links. People visit your team page looking for something: make it easy to find.
    And now the hard part: just do it. Engage!
    Regularly blog, tweet, or whatever it is you do to let your stakeholders know what you’re doing. Some ideas: What are you working on now? Which topics have you published lately? Recent team accomplishments or milestones? What big projects should stakeholders look forward to? Have you solved any sticky technical difficulties that resulted in process improvements? Tell people about it and post it publicly. Stay engaged and active with your internal or external customers using whatever social business tools you have. Your content will be improved and your stakeholders will thank you for it.
    If you have a positive identity in your community, you have social capital and the traction to make things happen. Marya’s going to talk more now about how to leverage social tools for creating content and a little bit more about why you would want to.
  • --If you have a positive identity in your community, you have social capital and the traction to make things happen.
    --Be as brave as you can about getting ideas out there in public because ideas grow through public airing. This also encourages others to put their stuff out there before it’s baked, which gives you an info-gathering advantage
    --If you have a choice about how widely to share, go as wide as you can. Obviously in email this is “bugging people”. In a forum, blog, or activity stream, it isn’t.
    --Get people arguing IN PUBLIC, not in your email inbox. Make them argue with each other, not you, and then use their resolution.
    --You can get real surprises by drawing in groups you didn’t know had a stake, or a competing document, or an NDA.
    --Incentivize people to help you by a)helping them with information, b)thanking them for their help
    --Make sure everyone who contributed to the discussion knows when the document is signed off, and has a chance to sign off.
    --You’ll get better content, better buy-in from stakeholders, and fewer ugly surprises after publication—and also a lot of nice working relationships
  • Example: sysreqs.
    How a discussion happens in document comments.
    How to mark a comment as a decision.
    If time, how to mark question answers as correct and helpful.
  • Leona’s transition here:
    We’ve been talking mostly about engaging internally with your orgnaization, your SMEs, and so on, but now I’m going to talk about using social business tools to engage with external customers.
  • So, now you know more about how to use social to manicure your image and produce your content. I want to build on both of these ideas by sharing how we use social to engage with customers and make our docs even better. We’ve been using social to engage with customers since I started at Jive. I’ll tell you why it’s good idea and how we’ve made it work. It’s not a perfect science. It’s been a lot of trial & error.
    [my story]
    Let’s start with why we use social to engage with customers:
    * Enables us to answer customer questions, and connect customers to the information they need.
    This means: We need to use the internet to talk to customers! Engage customers early and often. Before they’re upset.
    * Understand customer needs by asking. What's useful to the customer?
    This means: Listen. These skills are so undervalued! Sympathize as a real person to add value. Even when we have to say "no" or explain other limitations. People realize they can make a difference, and they are being heard.
    * Makes us accessible to customers in an awesome way. We have answers, and when we don’t, we know where to find them: in the docs.
    This means: Communicate back to customers. While learning what's useful to actual customer. You will refine your answers as you you go. Sometimes you can do something small that ends up adding a lot of value and goodwill for customers.
    * Write better content with all of this feedback.
    This means: Take what we’ve learned and use it to make sure our docs address what customers actually need, and not what we think they need.
    You want to become the customer experts and their advocates.
    [Jive makes this easy.]
    I know not everyone has Jive, but more companies are coming up with media interaction strategies, or building support communities. If you can leverage this, you’re halfway there. Use the support community, or twitter or even FaceBook to find out what is important to customers. [fill this out. Easy to not engage. You have the direct link to the SMEs.] When the conversation turns to support.
    We post our Release Notes to the community. A few customers asked us if we could provide CSVs of these the Release Notes so they could sort and view the issues to help them track what’s been fixed in which version, etc. This took a few extra steps, but now it’s part of our process, and we actually removed a customer pain point using the socialized comments on our social Release Notes Doc.
  • How do you get better docs from engaging with customers?
    Introduce yourself, and let them know how they can access you. Use avenues like Twitter, LinkedIn, or the Jive Community. Use your public profile and/or place page so customers know who they're "talking" to.
    Blog about your changes to keep customers (internal and external) informed about what’s new in the docs.
    Monitor public support site weekly for feedback about docs. You can also interact with status updates about what you're working on.
    Follow up on customer inquiries with an answer, even if it’s “no, we can’t provide that logarithm in the docs ” or “I need to bring in an expert” or “let me at-mention or share this with support”. This is helpful because you are sympathizing as a real person, responding and adding value. Even when you have to say "no" or explain other limitations, people appreciate your attention.
    Listen to what customers discuss and find confusing, and enhance those areas in the docs. Spy on customers!
    Note: We know that the hardest thing is to find time to do this when you have other, more urgent tasks. But this will make you more efficient in the long run. Having customers as a stake holder leads to better content quality (the ultimate test of whether its useful).
    We were going to nix our PDFs. They’re not super attractive, and haven’t found the time to make them look great. We created a poll on our community and asked customers if they’d miss our unpretty PDFs. We got resounding YES! People would have been upset if we got rid of them. We create them as part of our DITA builds, so it’s no extra sweat for us, but we thought they weren’t used. We asked, and they told us.
  • Make transition clearer to this side? Maybe the title does it? These are the things that we get out of social.
    We here at Jive are using social to guide us. It helps us create content and helps us refine it. But it also helps us communicate to the larger organization how valuable our docs are and how much we’ve accomplished. This is the most difficult, and most important, achievement in the Tech Docs world.
    Why do we think social is worth it?
    We can see what’s going on with our customers and they can see what’s going on with us. Two-way visibility means no one is ever surprised. (and this actually applies to both internal and external customers)
    When people have an open line of communication, customers can suggest edits or point out info gaps before they get frustrated. Win champions by helping people feel smarter. Turn complainers into champions. We’ve seen it happen here at Jive.
    It's psychology: An open line of communication helps diffuse customer frustrations, and even changes their minds, and sometimes wins their devotion. You can use social to help them succeed!
    Internal teams find more value in the docs because they can participate in building documents, contribute to the content of the docs, and express their opinions about the docs (pointing out info gaps or outdated diagrams, or just appreciating that the docs are available). [Charles Example here]
    We want to use our energy wisely. Find out what is important to customers, and put more energy into it, or don't (remove it). Knowing what to focus on and creating social content have both helped us become more efficient.
    [charles a sales rep was pretty upset b/c he thought the sys reqs were wrong. Once we showed him where we got the info (it was s published docs that he could access) He learned that we were on top of it, and there were business decisions directing our output. We encouraged him to contact us before assuming the worst, and he not only does that now, he brags about our docs to customers!]
  • How can we prove it? We are working on this part.
    Monitor our analytics, and impact. Look for trends, and figure out interesting things that are happening. Is usage surging during installations? Are certain companies using your docs more than other? Are admin docs being used more than end user docs?
    Find actual page views and page hits to show value of docs, and also to show that people are paying attention. Impact Metrics can show community impact of a doc, but this may not be how you publish.
    Show it off with big, bad numbers! When you collect the numbers, and you find some good answers, you can back up your conclusions with numbers. Company A is using our docs the most, and they are using only end user docs! Once you figure out the trends, map them out so others can understand them. Use charts.
    Publish internal/external blog posts outlining conclusions about the analytics. Use Impact Stats to make sure we’re being heard by the right people. Improve visibility within our own company and make others aware of our impact. (in Jive we can check our impact stats after we write a blog post, but you can also check blog hits or Google Analytics)
    Go into actual content of RTFM blog post. Marya actually did this. She got however many comments instantly and ppl really engaged about the number of visitors we get to our docs each month, Lots of high profile customers and we learned tha
    [example - Screen shows Test Community of RTFM blog post]
    Here’s a recent success story: show RTFM blog post in test commy. End user docs are important!
  • [conclusion]
    It all takes some effort: Branding yourself, making content creation/review a public activity, starting public conversations, and engaging with customers.
  • Socializing Content Creation

    1. 1. Socializing Content Creation Leona Campbell, Marya DeVoto, Melanie Jennings @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    2. 2. Presenters Melanie Jennings @seniortechwritr Senior Documentation Engineer at Jive Software since 2011. Loves DITA and single-sourcing. Marya DeVoto @medevoto Documentation Lead at Jive Software since 2010. Recovering Victorianist, emerging content advocate. Leona Campbell @writeleonawrite Senior Documentation Engineer at Jive Software since 2010. Mushroom hunter, DITA lover, geek whisperer. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    3. 3. About the Speakers • We’re the technical documentation team at Jive Software. • We’ve been using social business tools to create technical documentation. • We’ve seen massive improvements in process and product. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    4. 4. Your Community: Mass of Untapped Potential Make Social Business Work for You @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    5. 5. How Can You Use Social Technology to Improve Content? 1. 2. 3. 4. Brand your expertise. Make your group a destination. Draw collaborators in and give them a stake. Use the social web to document information decisions. 5. Listen to customers and engage them collaboratively. 6. Show your org the value of socializing content creation. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    6. 6. Brand Yourself and Your Group @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    7. 7. Are you social? • You and your team are a brand. • Social and PR are your friends. • Your workplace will become increasingly dependent on social business tools. • Using social business tools at work will help you create better content. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    8. 8. Personal Profiles and YOU • What: Tells your story succinctly. • Why: Your skills and knowledge are valuable; share them with others; write better content! • Where: Your community, LinkedIn, Twitter, and wherever you socialize online for work. • How: Use 3-5 keywords in your headline, summary, photo, specialties, job desc’s, skills; search LI for people you would hire. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    9. 9. Your Profile Checklist • Name, photo, contact info • Headline: Title | My Value | My Skills or Certs • My Statement: passion, philosophy, invitation to connect (written in the first person) • Specialties, skills, job desc’s • Each field uses a keyword @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    10. 10. Setting Up a Team Page • What is the value of your team? • What are the strengths and specialties of team members? • How do you communicate those to the organization? • How do you want the organization to engage with you? • Where can people find your content? • Engage! @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    11. 11. Collaborative Energy = Better Content @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    12. 12. Drawing in Collaborators • Create content in public where possible. • Think of your colleagues as collaborators, not reviewers. • Court drive-by opinions and dissent. • Provide public thanks. • Use public signoff to ensure stakeholders are happy. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    13. 13. How? In Jive, create content in a public place and @mention the people you want. Outside Jive, post content or links to content: •In an activity stream •On an Intranet page •In a blog or wiki •Anywhere people can see the content and argue about it @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    14. 14. Making Conversations Public and Permanent • The social Web isn’t ephemeral. It’s permanent. • Get your information decisions out of email and into an online format. • Make conversations searchable or bookmarkable whenever possible. • Especially for reference material, this saves endless time and money. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    15. 15. How? In Jive, status updates, blogs, discussions, documents, and comments are all searchable. We’re so lucky! Outside of Jive: •Use wiki comments attached to documents, like Wikipedia does. •Use forums, newsgroups, or any other linkable discussion technology for reviews of controversial content. •If you have a feedback element in your documentation output, use it in an internal instance for reviews •In a pinch, publish meeting notes! •Bookmark relentlessly. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    16. 16. Get Closer to the Source @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    17. 17. Engage With Customers: Why? •Reduce customer support by finding out the real customer questions. •Understand the customer's needs by asking them what they need in the docs. •Be available to customers to build relationships that get you better info. •In the end, we write better content. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    18. 18. Engage With Customers: How? •Introduce yourself, and give them a way to reach you. •Status update and blog about your latest changes to the docs. •Monitor public support site. •Follow up on customer inquiries. •Listen to what customers discuss and find confusing. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    19. 19. Social is worth it • Social business provides two-way visibility. • Turn frustrations into wins by engaging with customers. • Customers proactively contact us with helpful suggestions for the docs. • Internal teams see the value of docs and champion us. • Stakeholders have learned to become more engaged in the docs both as requesters and contributors. • We use our time more efficiently. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    20. 20. Oh yeah? Prove it! • Monitor/evaluate analytics and impact. • Use page views and hits to show the value of docs. People are paying attention! • Get the numbers and analyze them. Use charts to map trends. • Publish internal and external blog posts outlining conclusions. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    21. 21. Getting Started with Social • What social tools do you already have? • Who are your stakeholders and where do they talk to each other? • What are some new ways you might use them? • What communities already exist in your organization or your field? • Start having conversations online where more people can participate. @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon
    22. 22. Go Forth and Be Social! • Marya just published a blog post on the Jive Community about how using Jive has changed the way we write documentation. • Link: /21/why-technical-documentation-needs-jive • We’d love to hear your feedback! @runleonarun @medevoto @seniortechwritr #socializingcontent @LavaCon