API Storytelling Within The Enterprise
Storytelling is important. Storytelling within the enterprise is hard. Reaching folks on the open web is hard work to, but there is usually an audience that will eventually tune in, and over time you can develop and cultivate that audience. The tools you have at your disposal within the enterprise are much more prescribed and often times dictated–even controlled. I also find that they aren’t always as effective as they are made out to be, with the perception being one thing, and the reach, engagement, and noise being then much harder realities you face when trying to get a message out.
Email might seem like a good idea, and is definitely a critical tool when reaching specific individuals or groups, but as a general company wide thing, it quickly becomes exponentially ineffective with each person you add on as CC. I’d say that you are better off creating a daily or weekly email newsletter if you are going to be sending across large groups of the enterprise rather than participating in the constant email barrage that occurs on a daily basis. Email is an effective tool when used properly, but I’d say I haven’t perfected the art of using email to reach my intended audience within the enterprise.
My preferred storytelling format is relatively muted within the enterprise — people rarely read blogs in this world. Blog reading is something you do out on the web apparently. This means I have to get pretty creative when it comes to getting your stories out. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using this format of storytelling, but you just can’t count on folks to regularly consume a blog, or subscribe to an RSS feed. You can still have a blog, but you have to find other ways of slipping the links into existing conversations, documentation, and other avenues in which people consume information within the enterprise.
I would say this reality of reading within the enterprise is why I try to write more white papers and guides. I know that many folks across the enterprise prefer to consume their reading materials as a PDF on their laptop, desktop, or tablet. While this is definitely not my preferred way of consuming information, I have to remember that it is the primary way in which enterprise folks can cut through the noise, and find some quiet time to digest 6-8 pages of API blah blah blah during their busy day. While I will keep pumping out short form content on the blog, I will also be investing much more into creating longer form white papers and guides that have a greater opportunity of penetrating the enterprise.
I know that enterprise folks are caught up in the daily shit-storm and can’t always get to my blog, or spend too much time on Twitter. Making content more portable, and something they can email around, download and potentially consume later is important. As I work within the enterprise more I am realizing how critical this is for folks, including myself. I found myself firing back up my Pocket app on my iPad, so that I can queue things up for later. Reminding how difficult it is to tell stories within the enterprise and that I cannot discount tools like the PDF when it comes to reaching my intended audience. You really have to understand your audience, and work to meet them at their level, regardless of the tools you use to get information and be influenced by the deluge of storytelling we are inundated with on a daily basis.