… to just shut up and listen.

Something to think about.

Gratuitous Plug:

Myself, KiKi L’Italien, Peter Hutchins and Linda Chreno will be giving a session entitled Masters of Monitoring: Making Sense of Social Media Information at the ASAE Great Ideas Conference in Colorado Springs. Our session is on Tuesday, March 15th at 11:45am (local time). Hope you’ll join us.


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So I’ve been tweeting a lot lately about how I’m completely over inforgraphics. There seems to be a new one every day.

Well every once in awhile, one comes along that makes me smile and refreshes my love for the overused social object.

Today was one of those days. I present (by way of Holy Kaw)…

The Awesome Evolution of the Internet

I ❤ me some good ole interwebs snark.

Thanks Grasshopper Group for the smile!

I’ve been doing a lot of work on influencers lately. Finding people who are influential around certain keywords is no easy matter.

There are many tools that can help you wade through the deluge of data points out there like Klout, mPact, Peer Index, Twitalyzer, RowFeeder, etc.

Some of these tools have come under fire in recent months, since it seems like everyone has their own definition of what makes someone influential. (I myself even have my own ways of finding those that are “influential”)

What has occurred to me though is that URL shorteners are in a unique position to be able to measure influence in the social space.

Why you might ask?

Well, my statement is based on a simple assumption…

Influential people drive people to action.

Brands are looking for “influencers” who will drive action around their products, aka buying said product.

One of the few actions we can track fairly consistently is click-thrus. So it lends itself to think that URL shorteners (or community management tools that have built in URL shorteners) could be in a unique position to leverage that data to measure influencer across it’s users.

If there was a way to combine that data with your web analytics, then I assume that there would be a way to track sales.

So what’s your take? Is this logical? Do you see a better way to possibly track influence?

Do you even buy into the idea of “influencers”?


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So I’m in love with RSS and have been for a very long time now. I see so much potential in what RSS can do for me, and it’s the one social media tool that I use every single day. I use it more than Twitter or Facebook. It powers all my autofeeds, and I even feature my Delicious RSS Feed in the sidebar of my blog (See “What I’m Reading” towards the bottom).

RSS, however, is seen (in my opinion) as sort of a redheaded stepchild of social media. It’s not sexy, like Twitter or Facebook, so it doesn’t get much attention, but it truly is an integral part of your social experience, whether you know it or not.

I know many people who have abandoned their RSS readers for Twitter, but what they fail to realize is that if no one used RSS, then the web would be much harder to discover. Sure we have Tweet and Facebook Like buttons, but how else are you going to have content from your favorite sites delivered to you daily without fail?

There is so much potential in an RSS feed. From using RSS Feeds to create group blogs, to auto-feeding content (yours & others) to your social outposts, to using it to automate and integrate your social presences. The ideas are endless. Basically, if you want content to go from one place to another, then RSS can usually help fill that want.

Earlier this month, TechCrunch (and another) talked about how RSS is dying and that Facebook & Twitter hold the smoking gun. Partly fueled by TechCrunch musing on it’s analytics and partly because of an announcement that in Firefox 4.0 Mozilla will be removing the RSS button from the toolbar.

However, apparently Matthew Ingram at GigaOm agrees with me though. And he makes the point I’m trying to make about RSS, just in a much more strategic way. RSS is becoming a foundation of the web, whether you recognize it or not. It is our duty to see the future of what RSS can be and leverage that to make a better and productive web experience for your members or customers.

So what’s the coolest use of RSS that you’ve ever seen?


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Disclosure: @Gearheadgal is a coworker of mine at R2integrated, which is probably why I saw her tweet in the first place. You should seriously follow her though, she’s awesome. 😉

Group Buying is all the rage lately.

It’s like Geolocation 8 months ago, but even more popular because it is able to live between web, email & social properties. However, every time I turn around, there is another group buying service popping up. Usually there is some nuance to distinguish it, but usually nothing of true note to the consumer.

However, sitting back and watching what’s been happening in my local area deal wise has got me thinking and trying to figure out what the future is for these group buying services…

I think group buying will eventually segment itself out according to the primary interests of their audiences and demographics. You’ll go to one service for beauty services & the like, one for travel, one for food discounts, etc. and this segmentation will primarily occur in heavily populated urban/suburban areas.

I also think that this will become ever more useful for the consumers, though there may be significant drop off as result on a per service basis. It means that as a consumer, I will have the power to pick & choose what are useful deals to me and allow businesses to more effectively target their user base. It will become a scenario of quality over quantity.

Now if this doesn’t happen on a per service basis as I predicted, the other segmentation alternative is that it will happen within the service itself. I already see something like this happening within LivingSocial. I receive a special email about once every two weeks or so (unsure of the actual cadence) that lists travel deals from all over the country. Since I love to travel, this is a much more valuable email to me than the daily emails I get with deals I never take advantage of. It allows me as the user to control my experience and on the web, that is sometimes overlooked in favor of far, but shallow reach.

Then after that, I’m sure some form of aggregators will step in and do their work to find the best deals across multiple group buying channels. But so is the way of the web.

So, what do you think? Do you see this happening in group buying? Are there trends I’m missing?

I’m also very curious to see if any associations have taken on group buying as a recruitment tactic. If not, why not? If so, what compelled you to try it? What were your results?


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Being Present.


For those of you that also follow my personal blog, you may have read that after a few years away I’m returning to my yoga mat. I’ve missed it very much and going back I’m starting to realize how far I’ve drifted from my practice in my time away.

The sixth limb of yoga is Dharana, which is translated as concentration. In my integrated work of theatre and yoga this has always been presented to me as the act of being present in what you’re doing. “Being in the now” so to speak. On stage, you must be present in all that you do. It allows you to respond and truly engage in the feelings that you are having as the character.

Always looking to translate what learn personally into my work, I started thinking about presence and what it means to be present in social media. Here is the conclusion I’ve come to…

To truly be present with those you converse with is the highest form of respect, and respect for your fans/followers/etc. is essential to a strong social media presence.

So how do we translate being present into a tactical implementation?


  • We acknowledge the feelings of our fans/followers (both positive & negative))
  • We don’t just use canned responses but take the time to personalize what we say
  • We look for the deeper meaning behind complaints
  • We don’t ignore those who chose to engage with us
  • We empower our brand evangelists to spread the message
  • We acknowledge the collective power of consumers/members
  • We admit that consumers/memebrs shape our brands
  • We ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates our fans/followers

Those are just a few ways off the top of my head. Can you think of any more?


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Let me just say this… I heart DimDim.

For those of you who don’t know, DimDim is an online open source web conferencing software that worked in a freemium model.

Unfortunately for us fans of DimDim, they have recently been acquired by Salesforce and as a result are shutting down all free accounts by March 15th. Granted, I didn’t use DimDim that often, but it was my go to recommendation for webinar software, especially for small businesses since you could have up 20 participants in a “room” with the free account.

I know there is a lot of great webinar software out there, but for me, I also loved that DimDim was a startup. They were open source from the get go, and really gave me some powerful features to play with. Also, when I did use it, a lot of times it was with people who weren’t very tech savvy and since there was no download, it made their experience with the product good as well.

ReadWriteWeb also have a very interesting article about “the risk of free“* for businesses. They have a pretty valid point, though I disagree with the statement about loyalty to a free product.

Think about Facebook or Twitter. Those are a free products and have millions of die hard fans who are loyal. Loyalty comes through the service/product providing value to those who use it’s services, regardless of cost to the consumer.

I also won’t lie that this puts a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth with regards to Salesforce. I understand they have separate business objectives that do not include maintaining DimDim as a service, but when you purchase another company in the age of social media, you are also buying their community. A community that is full of brand loyalists and evangelists. I’m sure there are other DimDim fans that might be excited by the acquisition, but I don’t know if this shutting down of DimDim is really respecting what they purchased. In the end, the software/service now belongs to Salesforce, so they have the right to do what they will with it. Just wonder if any other DimDim users don’t feel the same way I do?

So my question is, do you use any free business services? Does the acquisition of DimDim make you re-evaluate how much stock you put into free services?


*For the record, DimDim did have pay accounts as well, whose subscriptions will be honored until their expiration date.

In case you hadn’t heard, there is a big collective experience going on in the Tech world right now – CES. I say that with some sarcasm, because this event tends to transcend “business vs. consumer” quite well, so you’ve probably heard of it.

Anyways, my point is that I don’t see a lot of corporate blogs piggybacking on this collective experience. It is an excellent opportunity to get your content in front of people, as long as you make it relevant to what they are experiencing.

Piggybacking, in it’s simplest definition, is when you write about a current trend. Like how Maggie got over 3k hits on a YouTube video when her iPhone4 was having service issues. As that demonstrates, piggybacking is an excellent way to get a little extra SEO juice.

My theory behind this lack of acknowledging the collective experience, is that the editorial calendar is getting in the way. These blogs are so concerned about planning out every single post for the next month that they throw relevancy out the window.

In my opinion, this is a fatal mistake.

Content consumers thrive on finding content that is relevant to their experience, right now. By “piggybacking” on to a collective experience, you can tap into what hundreds (if not thousands) of people are doing at the same time. It’s an excellent way to get your brand out in front of new potential customers (or members).

Now I don’t mean to imply that you should just start writing about CES if it has nothing to do with your organization or company. The idea behind piggybacking is that relevancy is the most important thing.

For example, at a previous association I worked at, I might write a blog post about CES, give a little background about the event and then ask the readers to give their take on which gadgets they see coming out of CES that will have the biggest impact on how they practice medicine. The idea is to get the conversation going and have your readers talking to each other, instead of your just talking at them.

So, I put this out there. Here’s how I propose you adjust your editorial calendar to make it more flexible…

1. Listen and look for what large events are coming up

If you’re tapped into the Twitterati, this will be easy. If not, check out some of the trending topics on Twitter. Twitter is a GREAT place to get snapshots of what is taking place at any given moment in time.

2. Don’t schedule out every single day on your editorial calendar

I know this may give some a heart attack, but the beauty of social media is that it is ever changing, ever evolving. Leave room in your editorial calendar to be a real person, and not just a corporate entity. Recognize what’s going around you and engage in that collective experience. The way I used to do this was to have themes for the day or week (like Fun Fridays) that were generic enough to be adaptable. Those themes gave me guidance on what to look for, but still allowed my editorial calendar to breathe.

3. Improv

So this is my theatre background coming out a bit, but you’ve got to know how to adapt and be nimble if you are going to survive in the social media landscape. It’s about a moment in time, so seize it and make something wonderful.

So what collective experiences have you piggybacked off of? What sort of change in the conversation did you see?


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Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time on the ASAE site since it was launched back in August. I tend not to spend much time on there in general, probably because I get most of my value in the association from the people I connect with via the list-serv, the Associations Now magazine, or ASAE conferences. I’m sure others find more value in it than I do.

However, today I found my way to the site via the latest Communications section newsletter. (I’m in the midst of cleaning out my personal email after a long time of ignoring it)

One thing struck me and it kind of disturbed me…

There were 2 display ads above the fold. They were the 3rd thing I noticed. I first noticed I wasn’t logged in so I couldn’t view the content I was trying to look at. I then noticed where to log in, and after that noticed the display ads, which caught me off guard.

Maybe I’m just being sensitive here, but I don’t think I want any ads on my association’s website. It actually caused a sense of alarm in me. Enough alarm to abandon what I was looking at and write this post.

I understand from a business perspective that it makes sense to do display advertising on their site. It’s more revenue for the organization and in fact it’s something I’ve talked about in a positive way at previous organization I’ve worked at.

But I had never really experienced it from the member perspective before now. I’m used to display ads on websites I visit, because usually that is the primary source of revenue. I don’t mind it since they are offering me lots of great (FREE) content.

However, I pay dues to ASAE every year. I don’t want to be advertised to in a space that I consider something that I have invested in financially (the website being and online extension of ASAE, and my dues being an investment in ASAE). Maybe it’s just because I’m adverse it most advertising & selling, but it almost created a sense of distrust in me.

Am I just being overly sensitive? Do you have display ads on your organization’s website?

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Driving Growth: An Online Community Success Story with Ted Simpson & Paul Schneider of Socious

Higher Education User group went from 4,500 to 24, 580 in a few short years. This community has been around for about 7 years or so.

HEUG is a volunteer based organization, meaning lots of turnover, so they needed a content & communication plan. There will be a link to a template (will update).

The online community needed to be completely paid for by vendors. They needed participatory needs for vendors, but not let them control the conversation.

Paul Schneider admits, what they did was not Rocket Science. It’s about consistency, doing the same things over & over to reinforce the use of the community.

Little know fact: HEUG online was the first client of Socious.

10 Early Decisions they made that led to success:

1. Someone needs to be responsible

2. HEUG.Online WAS a destination – downloading files, etc. Everything went through the site.

3. Make information easy to find – easier said than done! Need to refine and redesign per user input.

4. No information publicly available – I have my own thoughts about this point… but they used Guest accounts as a way to find prospective members & market

5. Outpost sites were not a destination, but a marketing opportunity*, Paul cites the Marketing General report

6. Listservs Drove Growth – super smart tactic, use the tools they already ❤

7. Provide information in different formats for different generations – it’s all about integration!

8. No question left behind – while they were launching they would not have a question go unanswered, hard work, but proved very valuable for the growth of the community, this proved critically important for new members to HEUG, reminds me of Holly Ross talking about reciprocity yesterday…

9. Don’t wait for the member to come online – created “favorites”, like a personal dashboard, with notifications even similar to Google Alerts features, they also created a newsletter that tied to the community

10. Have a community manager – need ownership & responsibility, understand goals of organization, have mojo in the organization, they need to be proactive. They made sure this person has clout within the organization, they actually had a 360 view of the org unlike any other employee. (This is what a community manager SHOULD have, #justsayin)

*My point – if you aren’t providing value on your socialCRM posts, why do they exist in the first place? You have to think about the users first and then map that to your goals/objectives.
The community is really the center point of the organization. EVERYTHING goes through there.The organization is the same thing as the community, it is a digital reflection of the community. Now that’s commitment!

They tap into the passion of the volunteers to make it work.

They also noticed distinct communities within their membership – those that interact purely through email and those that avoid email altogether and use search as the way to find what they need. Focus on the experience of these people and figure out how to make it better for each group.

They also don’t use the names like “blogs”, they post the information and talk about it in a way that relates to what the member sees valuable.

On a side note: I’m noticing individuals in the audience saying “I think my members…” and then say something about what they think their members want… Have you ever asked them?

I threw out a question about SEO and for them it didn’t seem to be a concern because they have a finite list of potential members. They know who they are. Search really isn’t a relevant path for new members.

Content plan for success:

If you build it, they won’t come (initially)

What is a content plan?
It incorporates all the different aspects of the types of content.
It takes into account your organization – members, staff, volunteers.
It takes into account marketing channels (FB, Twitter, LI).
Do a content plan for every single day they want something to appear (every day for them).
The content plan allowed for a steady flow of content to avoid fatigue.

Their content plan is spreadsheet driven. He suggests starting with planning out 3 months, test/learn/extend. They also looked at their member’s content consumption and adjusted the plan.

I am impressed with Socious’ reporting functions as well. They have some really great data points, like how many emails individuals sent through the system, how many blog posts were created by the community, etc.

Also Paul has offered up the content plan download at www.socious.com/contentplan

Their non-dues revenue goes beyond just advertising. It balances allowing them to participate but keeping the members from feeling that the community over run with vendors. They decided any vendor benefit had to ALSO be a benefit for the member. They encourage vendors to blog, post their white papers, case studies, marketing materials, etc. They allow a tiered model of surveys for vendors, higher the level, the more surveys they are allowed. They allow vendors to email members (through the system) and reinforce that the reason the community exists is because of the vendors.


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