Get the leadersYou might be able to implement Microblogging bottom-up without leadership support. However, I recommend convincing at least one “communicator”. Microblogging is about information telling. That is why you need people who have something to tell what other people want (or have to) hear. Your communicator could be a project manager, a well-known expert or even the head of your company. As the communicator uses Microblogging he/she creates a stream of followers. For instance our CEO Dirk uses Communote heavily. If you want to get in touch with him the Microblog is a good way to do this. Self-projection might be another driver to use Microblogging when your boss reads the postings.
Create perceived critical massYou do not have to force every employee of your company to use Communote from day one. Especially in big companies a sufficient way to launch Microblogging is to focus on single departments and spread the word afterwards out of these early adopters. The most important factor seems to be perceived critical mass. We used Microblogging in a test project with only 3 members before we developed Communote. These 3 people had one common task to work on and for that reason all conditions for a productive Microblogging usage were fulfilled. Later, when Communote was available for internal use these 3 people were spreading the idea of Microblogging within Communardo by word of mouth. Within a couple of weeks more than 50 colleagues joined making Communote the main communications platform besides email.
Integrate your MicroblogWould you register for yet another service from your IT department? No? So make it easy for your users to try Microblogging and experience the benefits. You can integrate Communote with your existing LDAP directory easily. This way people can login using their normal user names and passwords. They will appreciate that. Another important aspect of integration is to offer different ways of content consumption and creation. Communote offers secure RSS feeds and Instant Messaging (XMPP, Jabber) integration. A mobile client and portal widgets will follow soon. Given these possibilities, your users do not have to visit yet another website from time to time. They can just integrate it in their already present tools. This will raise acceptance for Microblogging.
Do not forget the passive usersAn analysis of user behavior in our internal Communote showed that one third of users post less than 1 message per week. This does not say anything about their acceptance of the tool. We asked some of them and found out that they use Communote really often as a reader. So as with every communication tool there are different kinds of users. Ask them from time to time if they keep using the Microblog and try to encourage them to share their thoughts there.
We are going to continue this blog posting. In the next issue we will discuss important decisions you will have to face right from the start. This includes rights management policy, blog creation policy and tagging.