Being social in the Lotus Community

Larry Bird Balfe

I just got off of the Lotus Technical Information and Education (LTIE) community call and there was a loud voice that IBM executives be “more social” in the community.   The community wants more executives like Ed Brill to be engaged on a daily basis.  I can definitely understand the reasons for such a request but the problem I see in general with social communities is you either get paid to contribute or you want to contribute (usually in your own time).  Like Ed, I also work out of my house and my “cooler talk” is actually the internet – so I blog, tweet, linkedIn, Facebook, etc more than most of my peers.  Of course I am not an executive and I do it because I enjoy it and I want to understand what the community wants and needs.  I also don’t have an office mate, unless you count my African Grey Parrot Larry (his full name is Larry Bird Balfe, see right) so it gets a bit lonely but he can carry on basic conversations .  I don’t get paid to do it and outside of being a person who spreads the news about development with IBM technologies, my boss never says “we need more posts” or “post something about X”.  What I post is what I feel like sharing or, I do post things that are referred to me by colleagues.  I also have a very different agenda – I am a geek who writes about software development and coding.  My level of posts are more granular and usually never focus on product futures.  You may take away that if I blog about certain topics then the development team is looking into it but it may simply not be true because I also have a wide range of development interests outside of IBM technology.

For those that want to be more involved then I would suggest following PlanetLotus and the wikis.  Being engaged in Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook is pretty important these days because many discussions go on in those places but they are usually a bit raw and may be hard to follow.  There are also more and more groups, meetings and people joining these other social sites and many times that is where I get invites to meetings like the LTIE one today.

And I must add, this is strictly my voice and not the voice of IBM.

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3 thoughts on “Being social in the Lotus Community

  1. Hi Bob. I would have thought an important part of any organization that provides products/services is to engage their customers. When it could only be done face to face this often meant many hours in meetings, planes, and airports. Now it is possible to use social media to engage those same customers more frequently and in greater numbers for a lower cost. If IBM does not consider time invested in communicating with its customer base (including members of the yellowverse) an important part of each executive’s job responsibilities then it is probably just paying lip service to some of the statements it makes. It staggers me that IBM don’t allow you to do this on their time (at least in part). Not only should they consider an appropriate proportion of your time doing this part of the job, they should show tangible recognition for the great job that you, Ed, Mary Beth, and others do in this area.

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  2. Yup, that was me…

    I have been asking this same question for at least three years – I raised it at roundtable sessions at LS2009/10 for instance, and yet whilst there are more IBMers than ever listed on LinkedIn and Facebook, with accounts on Twitter and blogging externally (e.g. through https://www-950.ibm.com/blogs ), we don’t seem to get any more “engagement’ with Lotus folks than we ever have – in fact, I’m sure there is less ‘real’ conversation on product forums, on independent blogs and in discussions on the ‘rockstar’ sites (Ed etc) than ever before.

    As I stated on the call, Ed (and Mary Beth too) do a fantastic job – I really do applaud him and thank him for all he does for Lotus and the community. However, you *never* see other Lotus execs, managers and leaders participating, and that’s what I believe we need.

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