Tools, Trust and Toilets

I and many others attended Neil Morrison and Matthew Hanwell’s social media session at #cipd11 this morning. Loads of good stuff being shared and a healthy dash of British toilet humour thrown in for good measure. Here’s a summary of what I heard and learned. I’ll focus on Neil’s thoughts for now and cover Matthew’s later today.

Numbers: Neil started showing us some huge numbers, in the hour to follow 5,000 blogs would be written, millions of tweets sent. These numbers show us that social media is not a passing trend.

Control: Can you control what goes on social media? No more than you can control what people think and say, so don’t try to.

Fear: maybe around loss of reputation? So an employee tweets a ‘bad day’ message and gets sacked for it. The story ends up in the Metro and the company are embarrassed. Who made the bigger mistake? Ever seen an acceptable newspaper use policy? No – so why do you need one for social media?

Fear: what about loss of productivity. To suggest this shows contempt for your employees. If you have a productivity issue, social media is not your problem.

Fear: IT security perhaps? Emails spread viruses much more than social media, perhaps you should ban email instead?

HR as the Sheriff: Your first job as sheriff is to make sure HR don’t write a stupid policy on social media. Your second job is to make sure IT don’t write an even stupider social media policy. Done that? Good – now throw away the badge.

Lead the way: HR best placed to lead a connected conversation between employees, customers and others.

Learning: Neil told us that social media is an invaluable part of his continuous professional development. It gives him ideas, a place to share concerns, do more thinking and learning, helps with business leads and recruitment.

Easy: Social media is easy and those who tell you otherwise are resitaint or trying to sell you consultancy. At Random House where Neil is Group HRD, their approach to social media is organic, or as Neil put it, ‘slightly disorganised’.

Tools Trust and Toilets: Random House allow staff access to all social tools. If they didn’t, staff would just disappear into the toilet and tweet from there! We’d rather trust our people, foster adult to adult relationships – trust beats control every time.

Courage: courage is knowing what not to fear. Social media can help you empower, educate, encourage and experiment.

Thought provoking stuff from a bright HR Director. I hope many in attendance at this busy session go on and follow Neil’s lead.

Wobbling and whying

A little bump in the road threw me yesterday. Someone I respect suggested that part of what we do around here sounds….negative. Specifically, the ‘Stop Doing Dumb Things’ part. As a cyclist I’m used to the odd wobble and even the occasional crash! What to do when someone throws a stick in the spokes? I had some time to pause on my journey so I put a question out to Twitter.

Which do you prefer, ‘stop doing dumb things’ or ‘better engagement for better service’ – couple of folk saying the first is too negative?

The responses were rapid and very useful.

Hackofalltrades I really dig the 1st, but can see it could be off-putting to those who do dumb things to customers. But stands out a lot more. 2nd is more bland, but safer. What’s more important (to you): initial interest, or not ruffling feathers (at first)?

Martincouzins I like the first one – shorter, sharper, direct. I know exactly what it means. No 2 is more ambiguous IMHO. The positive sounds a bit mealy mouthed. Take point about negativity, but maybe those words work well for what you do?

Inthecompanyof 1st one. More powerful, more direct.

Claireboyles Depends what you want it to achieve. For marketing purposes, getting your brand well known & talked about #1 wins hands down.  And it’s apt, because it’s true, so many people doing so many dumb things, even if they don’t realise they are dumb things!

Changecontinuum Personally the first – loud and proud will always defeat mediocrity. #whatdoiknow What does your gut say? Have you read Simon Sinek on “why”?

Jasonlauritsen I like the first. That probably means it’s appealing to a narrow audience. 🙂

Sarahjsargent Dumb things is straight talking – 2nd one is a bit corporate speak

Theatreacle Late reply – things always better expressed in the positive – how about “start doing great things”….

Stirthesource the first. I have spoken about you and your work to many. They ADORE the name. PS – I have to stop and think about the 2nd. The first is instant and makes you smile/has you nodding in agreement. Genius! PPS – I talk about it in its full name too, so my vote would be to stay with that (i.e. continue to include ‘customers’)

All great stuff coming in from all directions. Then things took another turn.

Bridge101 (aka Bridget Greenwood) Better engagement for better service sounds like corporate speak. I have to run it through my brain more than once to get it… they say keep marketing lit to level of an 8 year old. They say people engage more with what not to do than with what to do. So: “Stop doing dumb things to Your customers Your people, and start…..*fill in the benefit….” Then I’d keep reading… creating a movement, stand out, be strong on your vision, don’t fluff, do shock – you want a movement right? Let passion show. This considered and passionate input was followed by a text message containing more useful insight. Yep, Bridget went to the trouble to find my number and text me, so I called her back and we had a great chat about marketing, about purpose, about a whole bunch of exciting things. And Bridget also pointed me towards Why? By Simon Sinek. I checked out this very interesting talk by Simon on TED and I’m happy to repost it here, it’s worth a look if you are interested in self-definition, in ‘what’s it all about’?

Later in the day I read this great blog post on HBR by Lucy P Marcus. It’s all about being connected and she cites Twitter as a great place to throw out a question and get great thinking back in return. Couldn’t agree more!

So the bump was hit, the wobble had, the why whyed and with some minor adjustments we’re back on track. Truth is it would have been easy for me to just ride on past this one, but sometimes it’s worth taking a break and checking in with folks, I think I’m all the better for it.

What has the world of social media helped you with lately? I’d love to learn even more.

PS – two final thoughts on this. Jason popped back to say ‘different is awesome!’ and the wonderful jrkuhns simply adds – ‘Unconferences rule!’ thanks guys.

A numbers game, sort of

I started blogging in January 2009. Since then I’ve had 33,884 visits to my site, 15,013 at the original wordpress domain and 18,871 over here. Over a quarter of the total visits (9,134 to be precise) have landed in the past five months. I’m pretty confident these are very modest numbers, and because I blog first and foremost for enjoyment, I’m absolutely fine with that. This is not the start of a pissing contest. I have previously promised to share information about the business and this feels like a useful place to start. So what have I observed?


There is a close match between the number of posts I write, and the number of reads. No big surprise maybe, nevertheless the match really struck me when I lined the two sets of figures up for you this morning.

blog posts by month

blog views by month


Since I moved the blog here in April 2010 I’ve posted 145 times and these posts have generated 708 comments. A lot of the comments are mine in reply to other people but I think an average of nearly five comments per post shows a healthy level of interaction. I get a lot of satisfaction from receiving comments on the blog. I try and take time to read and visit many other blogs and comment on them too – it’s all one big conversation to me. I’ve worked hard at this reciprocal concept and I think it’s worth it. I learn loads from the comments I get here on the site and of course I learn from going elsewhere to read and engage in dialogue too.

It’s not just about the posts

As you can see from the screen shot below, the pages and posts which get the most visits here aren’t blog posts, but stuff related directly to the business. I think this observation is really important, particularly for small businesses like ours. I blog because I enjoy writing, sharing and learning and the visits we get are looking at much more than the blog posts. This feels like useful marketing to me. I have no way of knowing but I’m pretty sure if our website and blog were separate, the pages about who we are and what we do would probably not get nearly so many views.

Most visits


I think it’s worth a quick look at where the traffic to the website comes from. Since April 2010 roughly 30% of the visits are direct, 15% from search engines (Google a country mile ahead in that mini league), 50% are referred from places like LinkedIn, Twitter, HRZone and XpertHR (thanks to you all), the rest fall into “Others” (note to Google Analytics, that’s not very helpful). In the last month the figures are 23% direct, 23% search engines, 43% referred (a big chunk of this from Twitter), and 17% others.

I read a lot of great blogs which I imagine get a much bigger readership than this one, so I confess that writing this post has been a bit of a nervy experience for me. I can barely spell SEO let alone know how it works and what it does so there’s no technical inspiration here. I’m simply publishing this in the hope that people will find it useful. If you have any comments and feedback, and if there is any more detail you would like to see please get in touch and I’ll do my best to help. And of course – thanks as always for reading, I appreciate the time you invest here.