About gminks

Technical Training Course Developer, Graduate Student (Instructional Systems @ Florida State University), mom

Content cost and creation – and how it relates to community building

During a meeting at the Dell Storage Forum in London Hans De Leenheer, one our invited bloggers, told me something to this effect:

You are Miss Social Media. You have to make it so we are able to keep connecting. You have to make it so we can grow this community. That is your job!

My first reaction was – hey wait I can’t single-handedly build a vibrant community. I may be able to architect an environment where people can connect. I may be able to find influencers who want to connect and create a community, and I may be able to create a space online where that can happen. But I rely on those influencers to invite other members to the community, and to create relevant content that can serve as the glue that binds individuals together in a common interest and communion (see this post for more on the technical definition of community).

Why will people join a community?

People initially come to a community to fill a need for information. If it is a business-based community, the business can create some of the content that will fill the information needs of their customers. But the danger in only relying on content created by the business is that the information tends to get stale very quickly. The information offered to the community will probably be subject to the same internal processes as press releases and website content. The content will be what the business wants to project, what it wants its customers to know and believe.

Many times, content created by community members is much more current. Community members aren’t bound by corporate policy on communication.They can say it how they see it.They may be fans of the products the business creates, but they can also call out all the warts and blemishes of the products. If the community is positive, community members will offer solutions to problems they encounter. This is the type of content that people look for when they are trying to fill an information need.

If the community is being managed well, the business will interact with the content created by the community. This forces the business to create current, up-to-date content. The kind of content that fills the information needs of their customers. The kind of content that moves people from visiting because they are interested in information about the company’s products to developing an attachment to the individuals creating the content about the products (employees and other customers). It is this kind of content that facilitates the creation of community.

The cost of content

Yesterday I saw Marcia Connor tweet this from the IBM Connect conference:

There is a real cost to storing content (after all, I do work for Dell Storage!). But I think the idea behind this tweet goes even deeper than the financial cost of storing the data. For me this brings up so many questions….

Is there a way to architect things so content is always fluid? There is only so much that can be done from a technical architectural standpoint to make the data – the 1’s and 0’s fluid. How do you make the content fluid? What organizational barriers (dams?) prevent content from being in motion? How can we architect communities so that the content flows and everyone is able to extract the value from that content?

Things I’ll be pondering….but would love to hear your thoughts on this.


Dell Storage Forum 2012 London – the day before

Today is the first day of the Dell Storage Forum in London. Yesterday lots of people started to arrive, and I was amazed at how many people wrote pre-show blog posts:

Let me know if I missed your post!

Someone asked me about pictures and videos. Check out this set on the Dell Flickr page, we’re working on the updates right now.

Keep the twitter questions coming! We’ll try to get to more during the keynotes tomorrow, and we are tracking all of them.

OK, here’s what’s up tonight. We have an official sponsored Dell event at the Anchor Bankside Pub. There are buses available to take you there. This event is from 6-8.

Immediately after, there is a #storagebeers scheduled at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub on Fleet Street. From 8 – whenever. We walked it last night, and its not that bad of a walk, maybe 10 minutes (we got lost so it took us about 20 minutes). Maybe we can all meet up and leave at the same time. Who knows, maybe we can commandeer a bus to drop us off right at #storagebeers.

The event officially starts today for partners. Keep an eye on the #DellSF12 hashtag on Twitter!




Time to pack your bags for the Dell Storage Forum in London!

Watching this recap video of the Dell Storage Forum in Orlando made me a little nostalgic. So, Just like I did for the inaugural Dell Storage Forum in Orlando last year, I thought I’d write a post with helpful hints for those of you coming to the Dell Storage Forum in London next week (as well as some tips for those of you playing from home).

Social Media


The fabulous @AlisonAtDell will be posting all of the blog posts, videos, pictures, etc she finds to the Dell Storage Facebook Page. But don’t be shy – if you write something or take an awesome video, please feel free to post it to the wall! Also – you have “liked” us haven’t you?


Alison will also be creating a Storify page for the event, in case you just want to see the highlights of each day.


We’ll be tweeting from the @DellSF account. If you have questions, or need info, please give us a shout! The official hashtag is #DellSF. We have a list of blogger and podcasters who will be at the event, as well as a list of event attendees. Please tweet us if we need to add you to either list.

If you are following the event remotely, try using an application like Twazzup or Tweetchat. Just remember to log in to Twitter to interact.


In addition to Dell Storage bloggers (including myself, Jason Boche, and Lance Boley), we have invited some of the best known bloggers in the storage world to join us at the first European Dell Storage Forum. We’ll have Martin Glassborow, Chris Evans, Nigel Poulton, Bruno Sousa, Hans Deleenheer, Barry Coombs, Greg Knierieman, Ed Saipetch, and Stephen Foskett. This crew should make for some excellent storage conversations!


We’ll be adding pictures from the event to this set on the official Dell Flickr page. If you upload pic to Flickr (or any place else), please tag them with DellSF12 so we can find them!

Mobile-enabled site

If you are coming to the show, the mobile enabled site can be accessed via your mobile phone via http://www.eventmobi.com/dsflondon . You’ll need to log in with the email address you used to register for the event.

If you are going over from the US, you probably want to turn OFF data roaming and access this site (and all your mobile apps) via WiFi at the conference site.

Day-by-Day plan

#storagebeers + NekkidTech live recording!

Martin Glassborrow called a #storagebeers during the time folks are in town for the Dell Storage Forum. It will be Tuesday 1/10 at ‘Ye Olde Chesire Cheese’ on Fleet Street in London. Things will get started around 8 pm, and lots of us are planning to head over to visit.

Greg Knierieman and Ed Saipetch will bring the NekkidTech podcast to #storagebeers – they will be recording live from the pub. It will be good to see these guys in action!

I probably should call out that this is NOT a Dell-sponsored event. So please treat it like any other #storagebeers. It should be a great time – hope you can come round if you are in town!

Live #SANChat

January’s #SANChat will be live from #Dellsf12. It will be Wednesday, 1/11 at 5pm GMT (12 PM EST, 11 AM CST). If you are in London, we’ll gather at the Fluid Data Lounge. We’ll continue the conversation we started with Mike Davis about dedupe and compression. Remember, #SANchat is all about the technology, so its vendor neutral. Please join us! We suggest using TweetChat to keep up the conversation.

Tower of London

The Fluid Foundation celebration is Wednesday evening right after #SANchat. I’ve never been to the Tower of London, looking forward to wrapping up the week at such a cool venue.


Identity crisis: I’m not a marketer

Ok, in full disclosure, the title of this blog post is misleading. If you know me, you know I protest vigorously any time someone calls me a marketer. Hell, I did it during my yearly review. If you really know me you know that the reason I protest goes much, much deeper than the age-old techies vs. marketers holy war.

What I do for a living is not marketing.

Marketing by definition

Here is the definition for marketing by the American Marketing Association (via wikipedia):

‘Marketing is the process which creates, communicates, delivers the value to the customer, and maintains the relationship with customers. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.”

Marketing in practice

In practice, I’ve mostly seen marketing process that create, communicate (message), and deliver content to customers. You know, tell customers about our beautiful babies. Talk at them. Social media provides so many easy to use platforms with which to message at people, and since its web based it super easy to grab numbers on how effective a tweet or a Facebook post has been at reaching an audience.

Customers really want to be involved with the brands they buy from. That’s why if you have the resources, it’s not that hard to get tens of thousands of followers on Facebook or Twitter. But if all you do is market at these new followers, you end up with thousands of followers who ignore you because you are not giving them what they wanted – a real relationship with you.

Followers want to interact with you. On a personal basis. They can read the content of your perfectly crafted and approved tweets and Facebook posts on your website, in the emails you send them, or in the letters they get in their mailboxes from you. They don’t want another vehicle to be messaged TO, they want to communicate WITH you.

The costs of real engagement

Providing this personal engagement isn’t fast, and it involves lots of planning.  To do this right, you have to allocate budget for actual humans to do the work. You need to let these “social workers” engage with your followers. They need to build friendships.

You need to architect a plan for when your new friends are comfortable enough to tell you what they *really* think about your stuff, when they ask you why your competitor’s new thing seems better and even less expensive than the new thing you just announced, or when they reach out to you when they have issues with the stuff they bought from you. This plan will involve tapping into existing support structures, and it will involve collaborating with other departments in your organization. It may also mean training the other department about social media tools and persuading them to take on additional tasks that they may not have budgeted for.

Its about building real relationships

If you do social media correctly, you are building real relationships. With people, not with metrics. That’s what I do. I  build relationships between the storage industry and the talented people that work at Dell in the Enterprise space. I collaborate internally to build a support structure that allows internal policies to bridge and accommodate the personal relationships that are being forged.

It’s not much different than the work I did as an instructional designer and technical trainer. I had to take the technical info from engineering, compare it to what was being messaged to customers by marketing, and mix the two into something helpful for customers. People pay for training because they want someone to give them the real deal about the products they bought. What I do now isn’t much different – except the content and relationships don’t need to be funneled through training any more.

Back to my identity crisis

I know I’m not a marketer, and I know the fact that I’m not a marketer is one of the strengths I bring to whatever we are going to call what I do. My experience as an enterprise educator has prepared me for the job I’m doing now. The fact that I’m a techie helps too – I speak the language of our audience fluently. My educational background has helped too – I learned the whys and hows of the ways people fill needs for information, and have a strong background in systems evaluation and management.

So, what am I? A community builder? An architect….a manager? A new world educator? Its frustrating not to have a word to describe what I do. Its frustrating to be grouped into a profession that doesn’t really represent my profession.

It doesn’t really matter I suppose, I really like what I do and I think I’m pretty good at it. So I’ll just keep working at it. I can’t be the only person that “does” social media for a living having this crises. Anyone else out there? Any advice on how you deal with it?