Tag Archives: Social media

Wanna Blog? Then Blog Already

This post was created for a ten-minute talk for the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (2018). Want help getting started in blogging? Hopefully this blog lights a little fire for you, and I’m always happy to answer questions if you reach out.

Want to blog about Wi-Fi?

1. Take the first step. Writing, like public speaking, puts you “out there” for praise and criticism. If you’re gonna do it, do it.

2. Be yourself. Your words, your thoughts, your style. It’s OK to be inspired by others, but the world needs YOU, not you copying someone else. Write from YOUR experiences and discoveries.

3. Have something to say, but don’t force it. When the time is right to get your shareable thoughts out, you’ll feel it.

4. Put a fresh angle on the topic, whatever it is. Find something else to lead with that others aren’t discussing, some under-told feature or use case, etc. It’s OK to write about what others are writing about, but find some way to make it fresh, even if just subtly so.

5. Write often enough to stay relevant. If you last wrote back in 2015, chances are you’ve fallen off of most people’s radar. Every few weeks is OK, every few months is acceptable. Beyond that, don’t expect a lot of readers. Bonus- the more you write, the better you will get at writing.

6. Blogs aren’t novels- people have limited reading time. Don’t write more than you need to on a topic.

7. Promote, and be promoted. Get proofreading help early on if you need it; your blogging “advisor” will likely promote your blog.

8. Don’t be thin-skinned, and keep your ego in check. BTW- none of us know everything. And “experts” aren’t omnipotent- know the difference when interacting with people.

9. Any comments/feedback are worth responding to (almost). Stay respectful, and try to foster healthy dialogue. But it’s better to delete hyper-caustic comments than to reply with rancor.

10. Money can be made writing for the right outlet (or company) but generally it takes a while to build up to that- and you might have to know someone to get in the game. Unless you’re truly gifted, you won’t get rich with blogging. But you might develop a nice side income, and get other writing gigs.

Why is Aerohive the Only WLAN Vendor On Twitter?

That’s right- I don’t see any other WLAN vendors on Twitter.

Like really “on” Twitter.

Sure, I see lot’s of other WLAN vendors with a Twitter presence. I follow as many as I can. But it’s all so much marketing and promotion of webinars and other droll foofah. Not that these communications don’t have a place, but there should be so much more… like what Aerohive does.

No, this isn’t an Aeorohive suck-up session. They have innovative product and a fresh story that stands for itself. But what also sets Aerohive apart is how their senior tech folks interact  with us geeks on Twitter, in a way that is not only welcome but also sorely needed in a wireless world that grows ever more hyper-complex.

When folks with titles like Chief Wi-Fi Architect, Senior Wi-Fi Architect, and Director of Product management routinely engage customers and non-customers alike on social media, the information exchange is dynamite. This is what all vendors need to be doing. Aerohive has either purposefully or without realizing it empowered their wireless power people to get the message of their solutions out as vigorously as the marketing team does- but even better, they are providing guidance and facilitating discussion on topics that customers of ALL vendors have a stake in. In other words, Folks like Devin, Andrew, and Matthew are also upstanding citizens in a fairly small wireless community, and we all benefit from it.

As we all march towards 802.11ac, more complicated feature sets, unification of everything under the wireless banner, and an immersion in the Sea of Mobility, we need more Twitter-style interactions from vendors’ tech folks. Sure, it’s risky letting non-marketing employees talk directly to customers and potential customers. But to those of us that read the whitepapers, do the webinars, and visit the vendor booth at the tech shows yet still want more engagement on topics that shape our thoughts and strategies, the more informal interactions we have with the tech folks are invaluable. Sometimes it’s technical nuts and bolts stuff, sometimes it’s theoretical or contemplative, and sometimes it’s silly. But the mutual shaping of perspectives is valuable on many levels.

Come on, wireless vendors, you all have some amazing minds behind closed doors. That’s evidenced by the insanely cool products and features that you put out. At the same time, we can’t typically reach them- and they can’t reach us. It’s not your model. You give us division names for Twitter handles like “xxx mobility” and “yyy solutions”… fine, they have value. But we also want to interact with named people on occasion. Like Devin, Andrew, and Matthew. People who not only represent their employers well, but who are passionate about wireless networking and want to share that passion with others.

To balance the risk of letting your tech folks off the reservation a bit,,, you’d get better reads on what matters to those who use and manage wireless networks, we’d better understand why you chose some of your product decisions and feature sets, and powerful relationships at personal levels would get built among WLAN professionals. Yeah, it might feel weird in the beginning, but if Aerohive can pull it off (and quite nicely, I might add), so can you.

Twitter is Killing The Helpdesk

OK- so it’s not just Twitter, and the Helpdesk isn’t quite dead. But you fell for the hook, so keep reading as social media is definitely reshaping the network support environment.

In a perfect world, a wireless network trouble ticket would minimally include:

– Client device MAC address
– User name, if an authenticated network is in play
– Where the trouble happened (room number, space description)
– When problem happened
– Details on what the issue “felt” like
– Whether trouble moves as the user device does
– Information on whether other users are feeling similar pain
– Device type
– Operating system and version

Obviously, in some environments this may be hard to gather. But you gotta have some meaningful data point to begin with for solving network issues. Depending on the answers to the above, many problems can be dealt with over the phone, without dispatching. Given that on a healthy network, the overwhelming percentage of issues are single-client problems, getting client information is important, as is making sure clients understand hours and methods of formal support.

We usually do well knowing that our important building blocks are down, if we have set up system management and monitoring properly. Most (but certainly not all) system issues that will impact multiple users should be identified through alarms. The individual cries for help are the ones we’re talking about here.

Enter Social Media.

What’s easier- filling out a form with all of the above information and then dealing with follow-up calls/email until someone can finally identify why your device is wierding out, or simply Tweeting that “the network sucks!”?

Tweeting (or grousing on Facebook) provides instant gratification. I complained! I stuck it to the man! I said nasty things about this crappy network! Woo Woo! And all behind a fake name!

But what was accomplished? And what is the expected response?

It’s a fact of life that “living room” wireless networks are exponentially more simple than business wireless networks. Where a single access point is in use, just a few client devices are on, and there is no enterprise-grade security in play things like client stickyness and driver issues are a lot less likely manifest themselves in ways that feel like problems. But in this BYOD world, those same devices that seemed just peachy at home can be problematic when taken to a dense multi-cell wireless network environment that services hundreds or thousands of clients and uses complex security protocols.

When trouble hits, most people in the WLAN support game WANT to help. We take pride in our networks, and know how important they are because we use them too. But we need more than “C’mon network, get your shit together. I hate you” from a funny Twitter handle at 3:17 AM when you are somewhere in a sea of buildings and amongst dozens, hundreds, or thousands of access points.

Please, wireless clients, pause for a minute before jumping right into Complain Gear. No client network device is perfect or flawless, and they all act up sooner or later. Think of any connection problem you’ve ever had, and Google it- you’ll find your are in good company with others that have also experienced the same, on networks small and big, all around the world.

Sometimes a driver update is needed. Or a setting like IPv6 needs to be tweaked. Or the software update you just got from the mothership hosed something in the wireless network settings.

And sometimes, it might actually be a network issue.

The unwritten Social Contract of Networking between clients and those who provide them with services says “bring me a problem, and I’ll solve it”. But solving your problem requires providing good helpdesk-level details- not just a rant on Twitter.

PS- yes I know, Social Media is becoming integrated with helpdesk functions in many environments. It’s a natural evolution. But if anyone thinks a short wise-ass comment via social media takes the place of giving real information, you’re just ripping yourself off.