Sunday, June 28, 2009

9 Thoughts after 2 Months on Twitter

9 more thoughts after 2 months on Twitter (in no particular order) ...

1. Maintaining 2 identities: There's difference of opinion about whether it's good or bad to have two separate identities on Twitter - and the challenge of doing that. My opinion is that if it's an "organization" using Twitter but a staff person has personal opinion on other topics - it's not the same. Now that news media, legislators, the Governor, Members of Congress, business groups may follow (or just watch) an association on Twitter, the organization's "name" should likely be mindful of that. It is, however, difficult to remember to switch back and forth depending on if you're speaking as the organization, or as you.

2. More lingo to learn: There are Twitter abbreviations and acronyms to learn. Here's a dictionary.

3. Should you care what's said? (Yes) Mark Cuban has interesting blog post saying maybe no one should care what people write about them because in reality there are not many listening (and potentially no one listening). I think it matters because of Google. They may not be listening the day something is written or even the year it's written ... but if it can be found in Google, then one of these days it may have an impact you won't realize.

4. Learn TweetDeck: Wished I had set-up and learned TweetDeck at the outset. Allows you to set up columns to only watch what you want to watch, to follow hashtags easily, to add pictures easily, to shorten URLs, Re-Tweet instantly, and to watch search terms. I've found it valuable to have a search column with the word Maine - although there's a ton of tweets out there about a band named The Maine, a Mets player with the last name Maine, and Maine coon cats.

5. Why buy the cow: The best thing about social media training is it's either free or close to free (the most expensive social media program I know about is $75). The community of participants using social media like Twitter openly share info, even in live settings. Many livestream or post video so you can watch (free) without attending. And it's incorporated into most conferences you're likely attending. If you need advanced training, call a few people and teach each other. This is the best deal going in a bad economy.

6. Joys of Bit.ly: Bit.ly uses less characters than tinyurl.com (to reduce long URLs). And if you have an account it will keep analytics on how many people click your link. Like everything else, it's free too.

7. Authentic deceit: A few days before the truth came out about South Carolina Governor being in Argentina, I read a tweet from someone saying they just saw the SC Gov on the Appalachian Trail. So when the Appalachian Trail info came out it made me think that maybe Twitter did have inside scoop. But it wasn't truth. If you want to be deceitful, Twitter's an easy tool for that too. Who really knows what's authentic? It's not obvious. As the saying goes: Trust, then verify. Even on Twitter.

8. Etiquette and engagement: I bet everyone has opinion about what is or isn't etiquette on Twitter - and there's no right or wrong (only definite personal opinion about it.) Sending auto-responders to those who follow you may seem less personal to the recipient than if you sent nothing. Deciding not to respond to every question is like not answering every email, taking every call, responding to a news story, or meeting everyone who wants to meet with you. We each have finite amounts of time, and for better or worse the decision about how much time there is to engage is the same on Twitter (and all social media) as it is in real life.

9. Need to facilitate Twitter: Much association info that may have a consumer component should be in Twitter-ready format to encourage it's redistribution. Need to figure out when and how to do that.

Here are earlier Twitter posts: my first 15 thoughts, and 5 (Bad) Lessons.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why not pick what many people like?

I'm not sure if this is stating the obvious - but is a reason certain foods are typically available and selected because there are a lot of people who like them?

At a recent conference an attendee handed out single-packs of Reese's peanut butter cups - with a sticker with his Twitter name. I've also received weird candy in the past that maybe other attendees may find they really like ... or they'd ignore it, or dislike it.

Recently I checked into a hotel after midnight after traveling for many hours. Awaiting me in my room was a note from the manager - and a chalkboard with a display of mole salami, a jar of roasted tomatoes and crackers tied in twine - along with the explanation of what I was looking at. I didn't expect anything in my room, but when there was something there I starting dreaming of "typical" stuff - cheese/crackers (sans twine), grapes, chocolate dipped strawberries or even chocolate chip cookies. Not tomatoes in a jar. (Although it was really nice of them.)

Is a quirky pick a good idea to show uniqueness, or is there a reason to go with a likely sure thing? Maybe conferences have a lot of chicken and beef, but do you really want to see if lamb is popular or not? Or why pick two weird salad dressing choices instead of fan favorites?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Annoying: Cancelled vs. Canceled

I'm deeply into my career and still don't have certainty about if the correct spelling is "cancelled" or "canceled". I could link to all the conflicting info, but won't.

Today I cancelled a meeting. And spell check rejected it. Checked numerous sources as I've done numerous times and kept as cancelled (not canceled) because it looks wrong the other way.

Spell check on this blog program didn't flag either spelling. Maybe they're both right?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

5 (Bad) Twitter Lessons

This online story has some classic examples of Twitter gone bad, compliments of singer Usher's soon-to-be ex-wife Tameka. And since I don't personally know Usher and never followed either of them on Twitter - I can't even tell you if the reported story is remotely true - but think the lessons apply to all Twitter users regardless of the circumstances.

1. Watch out for the Direct Messages. I learned my first week on Twitter how easy it is to accidentally send a direct message (DM) meant for one person out to everyone. Story says Tameka thought she was sending a Direct (private) Message to Star Jones complaining about how "horrible" her divorce attorney is - but instead sent it to everyone. So people learned they were in fact getting a divorce and she created a little issue with a very public criticism. Lesson: Don't send anything out on Direct Message you wouldn't want the world to see. They probably will see it if you handle the D or DM wrong - and it turns into a Reply (to all). You're one space away from that typing mistake.

2. Follow You, Follow Me? Twitter users apparently noticed that Tameka was following Usher on Twitter, but he wasn't following her. Ouch. And she got really defensive about the accusations. So, if you don't follow someone, it means you have a relationship issue with them - or it's a one-way relationship? No wonder Twitter is full of thousands of people following thousands people they surely aren't really following (reading). Perception.

3. Being defined (negatively) by the types of things you post. The article has this description, "One would think that [Tameka] would have Twitter mastered by now, as she regularly uses the social networking site to misquote Bible verses and inspirational affirmations lifted from various spiri
tual gurus." Don't we all get defined by what we're blogging or twittering about too? What would you say about me - "she regularly complains about how much she hates to fly which is probably because it means she's missing today's Oprah." I remember reading blog posts by a new association exec and based on the content all I could think is that I'd be surprised if she lasted two years in day-to-day association management. She didn't.

4. Authenticity is as fake as you want to make it. Although apparently separated for a year, she's accused of disguising their non-relationship by tweeting love notes and giving random reports - such as saying Usher was at the grocery store. The famous New Yorker cartoon (of a dog typing at a computer) "on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog" applies to Twitter too. Anyone can create and report any kind of fake life and fake info. The word authentic is included every other word in the way evangelists describe Twitter. Please, how do any of us know what is and is not authentic - especially on Twitter? How can people really call someone out for a post if they have absolutely no idea about that person's real life? Maybe Tameka was reporting real things. How would anyone else really know? Comedian Kathy Griffin tweets that she's involved with Larry King and Sanjaya - I think it makes a point.

5. Another way for a direct attack. Whether celebrity or association, Twitter provides yet another way for a direct attack by gossipers, enemies or anyone wishing to "create" a story. And it's an easy way to spread any info put out there. Really, really easy. Whether we like it or not.

Coming soon: What I've learned my second month on Twitter.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Best Dues Explanation Video. Ever.

Love this video a colleague created to explain working in a down economy prior to a vote on a dues increase. Was provided to their Board of Directors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What goes around, comes around - even kindness

A friend of mine sent out an SOS on Twitter because she couldn't figure how to use a certain feature. She got an immediate response from another Twitter user detailing what she needed to do. At the bottom of the email was a "P.S. I'll never forget how kind you were to me in that transaction many years ago when I was first starting ... "

1. When you are kind, people remember - even years later
2. It's so great to get to help someone who helped you (I pounce on those opportunities too)
3. Adding a positive "P.S. I'll never forget ... " is a nice way to communicate you haven't forgotten

What goes around, comes around - even kindness.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time for the Urban Dictionary

An online post included a reference to "open a can of whoop ass" and since I wasn't sure if it was okay or not, deleted it. Good suggestion I got later: to look it up on Urban Dictionary.

It's sometimes difficult with all the clever lingo online to know what something really means. Here are some recent definitions from Urban Dictionary:

1. Let you go - I want to get off the phone with you now, but I'll pretend to be polite by saying that I'm going to let you get back to whatever you were doing

2. DWT - Driving While Texting

3. Chronoptimist - A person who always underestimates the amount of time it takes to get something done or to get somewhere

4. Alt-Tabbin' - An act of quickly switching the current application to something work-appropriate when the boss walks in

5. Neighbornet - When you connect to your neighbor's wireless without their knowledge or consent

6. Execubabble - Verbal executive communication in broad, vague terms that rise above normal speak. Characterized by an excessive use of executive words such as robust, paradigm, and drill down. Those on the receiving end of execubabble are no better informed after the speech than when it began.

And, in case you were wondering ...

7. Open up a can of whoop ass - Continuing on path could lead to a fight

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good Door Prize

Here's a popular door prize at a tech conference today: a power inverter shaped like a coffee cup so it will fit in a car or boat cup holder. Cost: $29.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Educating Via Quickie Twitter Contest

An association executive in Maine is doing clever thing with Twitter - including a Wednesday quiz. Member donates item, 5 questions asked (one at a time), few minutes to send answers by DM (Direct Message), then winner drawn from among all that are correct, answers given (one at a time). And in this instance, the quiz includes an association legislative issue. So it's fun, informative and relevant ...

Using verbatim below so you can see how it can be done with limited number of characters on Twitter ... and in short time period ... but only including 1 question, 1 answer along with examples of instruction, prize announcement, etc.

"mainemerchants Starting at noon, I will begin posting 5 questions. Reply or DM the answer to @mainemerchants.

mainemerchants Winner will be person who gets most questions right. If multiple people get all 5 right, winner chosen randomly from that group.

mainemerchants 5 minutes until the @havenscandies @mainemerchants Twitter contest. Win 1lb box of Maine-made premium chocolate.


[Ask 5 questions in a row -- here's the second one]
mainemerchants Question 2: What will have a higher Maine sales tax in Jan '10: Maine chocolates or nationally produced cupcakes?

mainemerchants A couple more minutes to get your answers in.

[Give all 5 answers in a row - here's the second one]
mainemerchants Question 2 answer: Maine chocolate will have an 8.5% tax in Jan 2010. Nationally produced cupcakes - no tax because they contain flour.

mainemerchants So, the winner is . . . @[name]! She got all 5 right and was chosen from the pack of winners. A 1lb box of @havenscandies premium choc."

.... And then the winner posted a Twitter picture of herself with the prize!

Note: for those with strict rules about contests ... even those that take 5 minutes with minimal value prize ... you could create a contest rules page on your web site and link to it from a Twitter post (tweet)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fundraising: Drilling down to specifics

The college I attended, George Washington University, allows alumni contributors to drill-down their online donations to numerous specific targets - even to designated sports teams, clubs, specific schools/programs, student aid to specific schools/programs - along with general contributions.

One of my favorite fundraising campaigns was 20 years ago when we had association members and affiliates donate amounts to fund specific plants and trees to landscape our new building.

Maybe it's time to target more with fundraising efforts?

Monday, June 8, 2009

3 More Judith Posts to Read ...

Here are 3 more blog posts written by Judith Lindenau of interest for associations:

1. Understanding Fair Use: Ever had a staff person or member share with you their great new YouTube video that has unauthorized licensed music and/or photos on it? This blog post includes things to know about Fair Use.

2. Social Media Policies: Including the "no, I'm not a lawyer" disclaimer, this covers a few things to discuss and think about in creating an association social media policy. That "hot tub fun" with the president status doesn't sound so good to those paying dues ...

3. Google Wave: A new program that may make it easier or more interesting to collaborate on association activities such as pre-Board of Directors discussions, even wordsmithing and/or policy writing.

And if you really, really need to get away, check out Judith's rental home in Eleuthera, Bahamas.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why are you asking for input?

A small percentage of time I find that when an organization asks for input what they may really mean is the input they want is for you to agree with them. That happened to me recently - and it's not as if I just disliked what I reviewed, I thought it was somewhat offensive. So I'm the bad guy - because I was asked, and answered.

Sometimes there really are only glowing responses to give; but sometimes there aren't.

1. When you ask for input - is it because you want it or because you think you have to ask?
2. If you get negative input - what is your response?
3. What do you think when part of any review group doesn't comment at all - do people really not have an opinion one way or the other, is it easier just to stay way out of something that becomes controversial, or will every group always have a subset of "too busy"?

I do believe most of the time, when people or organizations ask for feedback, they really do mean it - and value it. If you ask for feedback, you should really want it - or don't ask. And if you're asked for feedback - give it. I wonder how many times flawed or bad outcomes happen because it's so much easier to just not ask or to just not say anything?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Emergency Dry Cleaning in 3 Minutes

My association president gave me a travel-sized tube of something called "Janie Dry Stick." It's for grease and oil stains. I carried it around in my purse for 6 months, unused. Then got a grease stain on beige pants on my way to a meeting - and somehow remembered it.

From one end of the "Janie" tube you get a chalky powder to rub into the stain. Wait 3 minutes. Then use the brush on the other end of the tube to brush off the powder. I didn't expect it to work, and it absolutely did. My pants still needed to be dry cleaned but I doubt anyone in the meeting could tell there had been a stain ... except for the detail that I did have to announce "Janie" and have them all weigh in on the miracle.

At a meeting today, the Janie powder removed an oil stain on my suit. Cost: $5.44 on Amazon.

Another detail: The Janie Dry Stick was personalized with a company name and phone number on the side. So it can be a personalized give-away or gift ... hmmm ... Happy Holidays from Cindy ...