Re: Tech Writing for Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Subject: Re: Tech Writing for Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
From: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: john rosberg <john_rosberg -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2009 16:05:49 -0400

> I, too, am wondering where the time for the customer interaction will come from.

Funny, one line we beat with war drums at every techcomm conference is
customer intimacy - learning who they are, what they need, and how to
cater to them. Now that there are opportunities springing up like
weeds, we wonder about the time?

> While I entirely agree that said interaction is an overwhelmingly positive experience (both for writers and their management), my day/week/month is pretty much a zero sum game at this point -- any time I spend on facebook would be time I wouldn't be doing something else.

And every time you are doing something else, that's time taken away
from Facebook. Or Twitter. Or what have you. It's all about
perspective and prioritizing what's important. Is writing docs from
specs without knowing your audience more important than getting to
know your audience? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

> In a previous gig(three years ago), our senior managers (R&D VPs) thought that having docs on a wiki would be cool, leading edge, and reduce the headcount need in pubs.
> Two out of three is always pretty good.

Yep. Unfortunately cool and leading edge both mean nothing if purpose
and value are missing from the equation.

> Sadly, we found that a bare minimum of 0.5 head was required just to perform triage on the incoming communication (that is, route incoming postings to the appropriate writer). Keeping up with the incoming could have easily cut our throughput by 33%, or increased our headcount similarly.

I would have removed the bottleneck of one person performing triage
and had all customers of that information (writers, etc.) involved in
getting it for themselves. Involvement is key. Otherwise you're trying
to turn loose social energy into fuel for a linear machine, and
machines always break down.

> This shouldn't be taken as a statement that I don't think these tools have a place in the tech pubs department, as I believe they do have a place. They are just not the game-changers that some seem to think they are.

Any tool is a game-changer in the right hands.

> As with many things, setting customer expectations is extremely important (you can expect a response within X time), as is viewing these tools as just that, tools -- as opposed to a bright white light that will make everything wonderful.

Ah, but bonds work so much better than set expectations. :) My kids
expect dinner at a certain time, and expect me to start chasing them
up to bed at another set time. Anyone can do that for them, though.
Knowing that I'm there for them despite schedules... that's where the
"value" is.

Bill Swallow

Twitter: @techcommdood

Available for contract and full time opportunities. No, I don't do
birthday parties.

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RE: Tech Writing for Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.): From: john rosberg

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