Targeting Communications

We have so many choices for communication that it’s easy for us to communicate in the wrong way, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Strange GrafitiI doubt I’m unique in the variety of places that I interact. When I write something I try to think about the different groups that I’m wanting to communicate with and to hone my message to fit that group.

At a high level the groups fit a bit like this:

  • Twitter: This is quite a broad constituency, but it’s mainly the people that I work with. I tend not to write about personal things because of this. I do send updates about my blog to twitter, but they generally fit with that constituency as well. Twitter is my primary update location, if I’m going to update my status anywhere it will be on twitter. I have been trying to tone down the volume a bit recently.
  • Linkedin: Although I’m quite active on Linkedin I don’t write very much. I mainly use it to keep in contact with where colleagues and former colleagues are up to. I could send automatic updates from twitter and other places here, but I don’t.
  • Facebook: Nearly all of my interactions on Facebook are personal ones. There are some colleagues who I have as friends but mostly my interactions are with people outside work. As well as updating and commenting I’m also likely to use Facebook for instant messaging and messaging communications with those who I know use Facebook. I also send my twitter updates to Facebook.
  • Google+: Well, next too nothing really, I feel like I’m still keeping a watching brief. I sometimes post a link to my blog. Most of the people in my circles are work people. Google+ has not really taken off with my outside work friends.
  • Email: I use email all day every day but try to keep the communications as tightly targeted as possible. Most of the time I avoid reply-to-all, but occasionally get caught out, and try to reduce the distribution list rather than grow it.
  • Blogs: I run two blogs because I write about different things. This one is mostly about things that I’m thinking about from day to day, I’m not very targeted in what I write, but people seem to accept that. The blessings blog is about, well, blessings. A few people read avidly, but most people find information via search (>65% of my visitors are new each month).
  • Skype: Skype plays a minor part on my communication regime. It’s sometimes get used for instant messaging communications and sometimes for video interactions with the family.

I think that’s most of it, but if you want to know more my about.me is a reasonable place to keep up to speed with what I’m contributing to.

I wondered whether other saw things in a similar way so I’ve talked to a number of people and many of them seem to be seeing themselves having similar persona to these.

With these broad collections in mind I’ll target different places based on what it is I am writing.

I also make assessments on the length of what it is I am going to write. This isn’t very elaborate, most of the time it’s a simple question – short or long? If it’s short I’ll try and constrain it down to the 140 characters of twitter, if it’s long it goes here on this blog. That is, unless it’s really one-to-one communication and that’s what I use email for, still. I don’t see that we have a suitable alternative to email for this type of communication just yet.

Communication is such an important thing that we do I think it’s vitally important that we do our best to communicate in the best possible way.

I seem to have written a lot about communications recently:

Business Networking – Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and the Cigarette Shelter

I was reading  the Michael Sampson: Currents blog the other day when I read this:

Is Twitter / Yammer / Socialcast the "new cigarette?"

Your Minster in the SunshineHis question was based on a posting by Joel Stein in Business Week titled “The Secret Cult of Office Smokers

Joel observes the power of the meetings that occurring every day in the huddles of individuals sharing in the smoking habit.

One of my first bosses was a smoker and I used to marvel at his ability to know things – it didn’t take me long to work out the source of all of his inside information. If something was going to happen he always knew way before it actually occurred, sometimes he would tip us off, but on many occasions he would leave it as a surprise. He’s always be perfectly positioned to take advantage though.

I’ve worked alongside other smokers and without exception they have been well connected, and normally connected above their station in the organisation. There are times when I’ve joined them for the chat because I’ve seen the potential.

Back to Michael’s question: are the social media tools replacing this kind of interaction?

To a certain extent I have found that my connectedness has increased through the use of social media, twitter has connected me with all sorts of knowledgeable and influential people within the IT industry.

Internal connectedness is a bit different, but similar. We run a system based on Jive internally and my ability to connect across the organisational structure has been great. I’ve written more extensively on some of the topics I write about on this blog, on the internal system, resulting in a number of very valuable connections with highly connected people in the organisation.

I have to say, though, it’s still not the smoking corner. There’s still not the serendipitous moments that you get from a chat over some tobacco in a paper sleeve, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure some of it is because the level of honest and openness on the lies of twitter is nothing like the honest we’d display in a much smaller group. But I think there are other factors too.

Please make me one of these: Universal profile

Jimmy and Grandad 2.0I have identities all over the Internet, and internally; blog, flickr, linkedin, facebook, etc. each one of them have some form of a personal profile where I get to talk about who I am and what I do.

There are lots of very clever people working on the problem of how I get to these things without having to authenticate everywhere. But I want more than that, I want to be able to have a single place where I have my profile information.

Why should I need to tell each of these systems the same information? If I change my job it should be updated within the relevant systems.

The emerging identity federation model probably has a lot to tell us in this area. People started from the premise that identities should be stored in one place and every other system should trust that one place. This didn’t work, because there wasn’t trust between all of the systems. The same will be true for profiles. I don’t want everyone to see all of the profile, I only want the people to see the parts of my profile that are relevant to the access that they have and the system that they are using.

Technologies like Facebook Connect go someway towards resolving this problem, but I’m not sure that they have really learnt the lessons from the identity people.

I want to be in control of what goes where, but I don’t want to have to maintain the same stuff everywhere.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in thinking that this is a problem, and as the famous quote goes: “"The future is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed." – William Gibson. So I’m also sure that I have missed some form of amazing development in this area that has the potential to make my winging sound like the ramblings of an idiot.

Anyone else think that this is a problem we need to get resolved?