Welcome to another entry from our new Social Snapshot series. Take a read. I think we could all benefit from Christopher's insights and approach.
Today we have some great insights shared from Christopher Little, DevOps Solutions Marketing Manager for BMC Software.
How long have you been Social?
I started being really social at about 4 and then overtime evolved with the digital of it.
Seriously, I have been doing “social” longer than it’s been called social.
Folks, Social is just more dazzling internet magic at work. It’s wonderful, one of those things that the better you understand it, the more you will embrace it. For a trivial example, most of the people I was associating with at a ‘meet-up’ after hours at vmworld this year I had never met (in person). But, because I knew them all already through social, meaning I already came to know “the mind” before “the body” -- it was great hanging with old friends who I had only just met.
How do you get started in Social Media?
I got started years ago where I was VP of Marketing at a start-up and we had no money. We had a great product, a depth of bench with MD expertise unmatched by any company of any size (we had a category-defining technology), and we solved a painful, expensive problem by . . . automating it. Some of the ingredients of what we now call Social were in their nascent form and I grasped the opportunities.
I saw that “Social” is not a new flavor that you add to your marketing soup. It is not a new type of advertisement or trade show. It can be much deeper, more meaningful than that. It’s actually going back to the (CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO book) definition of marketplace as a place with real conversations in it.
How do you find “Inspiration” for social content?
Some of it is me tripping over serendipity. I am an avid learner of new things and information. For instance, first thing in the morning I will read a couple of online newspapers and go through my personalized Zite and send interesting items to Buffer to queue up tweet posts. And I will check hashtag streams for relevant topics (for example #DevOps).
You can also queue up your twitter feed using Hoot Suite or Tweet Deck if you don’t like the rigidity of Buffer’s schedules— that morning review of what’s happening usually gives more than enough Tweet content for the day.
Now, if I come across anything relevant during the day, I’ll tweet it immediately – immediacy is important, too.
For the non-serendipity stuff like blogging, my approach is you manage it as if you owned a newspaper. You’re the editor, reporters and the editorial calendar. So I make sure I have a lot of content scheduled in the calendar (else you are relegated to publishing the equivalent of ‘man bites dog’ blogs). A lot of people have views on this but I try to make sure I have content 4-6 weeks out. That’s baseline cadence stuff. Anything bubbling up that warrants a more immediate appearance goes to the front page slot and pushes the prepared article on the calendar out.
How do you approach content development?
Well, you have to have something real to say. So, content development has two parts: found content and created content (and sometimes mixing the two).
Given content, my blogging approach for creating content in the DevOps community is brand focused: be a trusted resource for IT visitors on their DevOps value and discovery, be a central location of reference information and insight for evaluation, and have that all be offered under the BMC name.
I see the blog success come from its credibility and unmatched accumulation of unique resources. And being mildly sparky in a way, and not afraid of who and what we are. I’ve asked leaders in Open Source about the risks of open source (and the risk of not using open source). I’ve asked the guy who coined the term “DevOps” then watched it grow into a global frenzy – if vendor hype on DevOps is spoiling it. I’ve asked the Poppendiecks – founders of the Lean Software Development movement – on the profound shift in big software (IMO everyone should read their short answer, it’s excerpt #10 from their series)
Do you have a Personal Rule/Mantra?
I do. First a note: a core operating principle here: we are all knowledge workers. That’s KW in the Deming sense. Now, as individuals and knowledge workers, we have unique qualities that social can make shine and expose in a way no other method can do (except maybe public speaking).
So: don’t have a mission statement, have a mission. What’s your mission? The mission in your day, in your job, maybe in your life, in everything you do (life and job have a huge time overlap). Knowing your mission will help inform your social voice and presence. Speak from there and what you say will get heard.
Would you share your Biggest Win/ Achievement?
I actually have many favorites, because the Social dimension for the DevOps portal has been exceedingly successful. Core DevOps is a very high-functioning alpha geek, pro open source, Agile-oriented audience. BMC Software and the BMC brand did not have a good reputation there.
So some background: when I started this in February of this year, I kept the focus to add value to the conversations in the marketplace and earn the right to be considered a trusted source of DevOps info and insight. That meant tweeting news, references and even competitor’s tweets and blogs (don’t tell my boss!). Over time I have also added my distinct and informed point of view, never selling, always advising and informing.
So that’s a little background. Now some of my favorite achievements may not mean much to some, but they validate a lot for me in terms of social: the time this summer when the CIO of a multinational UK bank stopped the beginning of a major BMC presentation to inform everyone in the room that BMC Software, through our DevOps portal, has the finest single DevOps source on the internet; or when a top BMC executive is told by an executive of a major account that BMC provides an valuable service with its DevOps Social; or when a leading DevOps speaker pulls me aside at a conference in Silicon Valley to say that BMC is truly classy, bringing valuable conversations to the market [and then personally apologizes for a (well-known) history of being aggressively anti-BMC].
What are the biggest Challenges with Social Media?
So here’s a real challenge for many, including me: remembering how much you may be able to contribute to the conversation. Give generously. You are an informed, educated, seasoned knowledge worker who can be a resource and a wisdom provider and trusted help. So become valued by being valuable. If you stopped to help a woman with little kids change a tire on the side of a busy freeway, would you also try to sell her a new jack because you work for a new jack company? (um, if you answered yes, you may need to look into a career in sales…)
Do you have a parting thought to share?
Wade into the “Social water” — just remember it’s an ocean, not a pool, so don’t look to dive deep or generate any big waves till you understand how the currents work and the kind of muscle tone you’ll need.