Last week I went to a “Utah bloggers” event. It first surprised me to see 90% women, didn’t bother me, just surprised me. Then I went on to find I was the only technical blogger there. All were mommy bloggers, food bloggers, hair bloggers, and DIY bloggers and on and on. It was amazing to see that really as opposite ends of the world there was something common in terms of how bloggers can have influence, and how brands look to bloggers for awareness and PR. In my last post I brought up the question: “Should Bloggers and Influencers Make Money from Posts and Tweets?” I did expect to see more of a discussion. Guess everyone is already convinced that, hey it’s your blog… do what you want. People are influenced by what they read and influenced by their peers. I think it has a lot to do with who we follow and who we trust.
I’ve had a unique opportunity in the SharePoint world to work for Microsoft, a Vendor and now a customer.
When I was in Microsoft IT, there were times when we’d approach a vendor to find out how we’d address given issues. We had a special relationship with the product team where we could always ask them for things, which is what they would want, but depending on the amount of pain we were going through, we’d either consider off the shelf or build it ourselves to bridge the gap, and times where the product team would say they had no plans to address our need.
Next when I was in the product team, I spent a lot of time with customers and vendors and listened as they described things they wanted fixed. We had discussions about whether or not we could fit in these features. When we knew we wouldn’t be able to address them, we’d reach out to vendors with specialties and or capability for delivering.
Next in my move out to the field, and landing at a vendor. The experience was now analyzing what customers needs were, Microsoft’s gaps, and then figuring out if people were willing to pay. Beyond that there was figuring out if the need was more than one vocal customer, but seeing if the cost to build could be justified. This struggle is a tough one. Once a solution is delivered there’s another problem. How to you reach the person looking for the solution? Also how do you tell the story that describes the problem or challenge that resulted in a solution.
As a blogger, I was interested in helping out the vendor that was looking to connect with his audience. When I first started looking at google ads I noticed there was a lot of what I’d consider SharePoint pornography or anti-SharePoint content. There was simply bad analysis that was exposed by google ads. There was junk whitepapers that would simply bash SharePoint and try to sell a competitor tool. Frustrated by what google was doing in their ads exposed by people in our community I looked around at a vendor hall one day I thought, there has to be a way that we could connect bloggers with the vendors. In sharing my dilemna with Inna Gordin, an entrepreneurial spirit with marketing skills who understood the problem as I did. She had a vision of how we could build the platform that would connect these publishers with vendors. SharePointAds.com was born out of this. SharePointReviews.com was born out of the need for awareness as well. Leveraging social media features with focus on ratings and reviews.
I’m now looking at opportunity with the advancements in social media. Ads themselves give some level of awareness, but don’t give the full story. While it may contain a line of text presenting up a problem or opportunity.
I would suggest that we comparatively build a very serious network in our community. The penetration of facebook, twitter, and linked In. The most passionate dedicated SharePoint people are very well connected across the globe. This network building happens online and in events, and gets built and happens across the social networks. The pages of our online book and collective conscience is captured on blogs and in the status of microblogs.
In a recent Sharing the Point tour where we sat down with the Filipinos. In an on the spot exercise I went around the room asking each of the local SharePoint experts what their names where fascinating things happened. Despite the fact that I had never stepped foot in the Philippines, we had people in common that we knew, many of them were from Malaysia and Singapore. This exercise in discovery helped us understand the world is smaller than we knew.
With Facebook, twitter, and linked in it was amazing how we could spread messages around the globe through our networks and help reach even those only connected with local people.
In the SharePoint world there are people with clout, but we’ll refer to that as Klout which is a tool which tries to represent a score that provides a number to describe the reach and influence of an individual. There are a few hundred individuals that have very serious influence in our community. Efforts by Global 360 produced an Influencer 50. Many looked at that list and realized that that was too small, or questioned the algorithm or methods used to calculate it. Microsoft has it’s own list based on some formula of newsgroups and community work. In addition, they’ve put together some of their own charts around the influencers in twitter, facebook, and in the blogsphere. There are hundreds that have significant influence in the SharePoint community across social networks, blogs, and as speakers and writers.
Rather than simply trying to create the hierarchy of the influencer 50 or 100, or 1000, I am interested in putting together a bloggers and influencers network. People who are interested in working together on topics and conferences and events, and yes ultimately reaching out to the vendors and even Microsoft.