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This Lockdown DOES Feel Different

Using The Web, How Does Anyone Find The Time?

A common (yet slowly diminishing) cry from management of organisations is still, "This web-stuff, isn't it just playing ... we don't have time for our staff to be playing on our Intranet!"* And that's correct, no-one has time for staff that playing, FULL STOP! If you're paying someone to do a job then they should do the job.

Some jobs, however, are not as easily defined and measured as, say a bus driver. The bus needs to be driven from A to C via B arriving with a required amount of money at very particular times. Having said that the bus driver is now-a-days also seen as "an ambassador for the company" and therefore is given a whole lot more tasks around "customer satisfaction" that are a lot less measurable.

And the word "playing" for some coms with a meaning of "mindless, unfocused time wasting".
If the word is "playing" is replaced with "creating innovation" then it's allowed because the "play" has business focus.

Oh, and where's the law that says work has to be boring?

And so, "wasting time playing on the Web" can be challenged at many levels. and that end a mate flicked me a link to How Much Time Does Web 2.0 Take? which challenges the assumption (for museum staff) that it has to take time by listing some common "social media/networking" activities that anyone can do and the amount of time effort required - you'll be surprised, for instance:
You don't need big time to get started with Web 2.0. Got 1-5 person hours each week? Become a participant.

...

In 30 minutes, you can learn a lot about your institution and visitor opinions of it. You can...
  • Search for your institution on Yelp and TripAdvisor. If reviews include incorrect information, add your own comment giving helpful information about hours, prices, and new cool things people might like. If there are negative comments you want to address, commiserate, be friendly, and help them know that you care.
  • Check yourself out in the blogosphere. Go to Technorati or Google Blog Search and put the name of your museum (or exhibit, or program, or...) in quotation marks and hit search. You'll see all the mentions of you in recent blog posts. If something looks interesting, click through and read the post. You might even want to post a comment (and link back to the museum website).
  • Look for photos of you on Flickr and videos about you on Youtube. Again, add comments that give tantalizing information about the ancient vase behind the smiling girl or upcoming programs featuring those video-recorded light sabers. This is also a good place to get an education in how people are using images from your institution--both legally and illegally.
There are also a few Web 2.0 activities you can initiate without requiring frequent content updates. You can...
  • run a Twitter feed. The most time-consuming part of this is not posting content (how time-consuming can 140 characters get?) but attracting followers who will read your content. Search for people or institutions of interest to follow, and the followers will come.
  • post images from museum events on Flickr, upload videos from events on YouTube. ...
  • create and manage a Facebook group or page, or a MySpace page. These are arguably the most time-consuming of the "cheap" time options ...
  • manage an online comment board on your website. Yes, it sounds overwhelming when David talks about monitoring all the boards on the USHMM website. But ...

The article carries on with things you can accomplish if you have have 5-10 hours per week (become a content provider) or 10-20 hours per week (become a community director).



The article finishes with a great pointer to who, ideally, should be engaging with the online museum visitors:
These projects require a fundamentally different skill set than many of the other jobs we do in museums. Think of the folks doing these activities as floor staff working in your virtual galleries. They have some content knowledge and an interest in engaging with visitors. They aren’t super-techies or crack content experts. They manage relationships instead of producing exhibits or events. Some museums are starting to reflect this in their hiring, adding "community management" to job descriptions that formerly were just about content production or distribution.

But for me the "get out and do it" message is to do lots of small yet focussed actions:
But you don't have to change your title to get started. Bookmark your hour each week and start wading in. What ideas have I left out that you would add to these lists? What costs are you most concerned about when you consider embarking on Web 2.0 ventures?

If you're a company that believes this "web stuff" can be assigned to a one-off project with maybe a follow-up review in 12 months time then you're in for failure. It is also not always a natural fit with the Public Relations team who may be solely focused on the big themes, major ad campaigns and building "corporate image" in a more traditionally (but equally important) manner.

And remember, just because the article talks about museum staff the approach is exactly the same for any industry (although having the bus driver tweeting all the time may not work ;-). It also works for internal companies - think of your staff as customers and engage with them in the same manner by ensuring your "Intranet" is capable of providing the same chanels.

Engaging with people (which is the point) is constant, focused and with forethought - don't attempt it any other way. This may mean allowing those that already talk with your staff/customers the time to engage on-line ... is that "playing on the Web?"


Further reading on this site at:

* For more, see my my 2008 Webstock preso

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