Sunday, May 31, 2009

Test Marketing Messages Online First

The New York Times has article about testing marketing messages and images online, then revising, before launching an expensive media / ad campaign. I recently ran the same message with two different images on Facebook and there was VAST difference in volume of clicks.

Finally, an inexpensive way for real consumers to show you what works and doesn't work with them. Quickly. Inexpensively.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Giving back .... BECAUSE?

While facilitating a non-profit board's retreat, an attendee new to that Board said he wanted the "warm fuzzies" about the people he's serving with ... I asked everyone to explain why they volunteer for the organization. Not the standard answer "I want to give back" ... but instead "I want to give back ... BECAUSE ...." or something about the specific person who recruited their volunteerism.

The BECAUSE part brought forward compelling stories ... one appreciated the role the organization played with foster care agencies due to a personal experience, another had a parent who died of a disease the organization supports; one had been encouraged by her boss to volunteer there ... another had been encouraged by his minister. The stories were moving and impactful. And I might have missed it.


1. The warm fuzzy part of a meeting can sometimes be the most meaningful
2. If you hear "I want to give back" ... don't stop there ... the because part may be the most interesting
3. Employer support may be a big reason people are able to volunteer - or the reason they may even start volunteering. Do you support volunteerism in your own office?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

OMG - A Twitter conference (#140tc) where people speak like they only have 140 characters. A reporter says:

"It's safe to say that if you're going to hang at a conference like 140, you'd better at least buy into the Twitter thing a little. I actually noticed people were speaking to each other in more rapid, shorter, to-the-point sentences than usual. Maybe Twitter is affecting the way we speak, as well as write."

... Now if only this would work for cutting to the chase on voice mail messages or conference calls.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

15 Thoughts after a Month on Twitter

Now that I'm a month into Twitter, here are 15 thoughts ... in no particular order ...

1. Many Followers is not necessarily a sign of expertise or popularity. I noticed one of my followers has many hundreds of followers while he's following more than a thousand. And all he's posted is 8 random quotes. Some just automatically follow anyone who will follow them. So, some of Twitter is just a big numbers game. Ridiculous. But if you're Oprah, it actually is a sign of popularity.

2. Block the Call Girls. Got a "party girl" as a follower complete with inappropriate primary picture. That fits right in with association execs, real estate types and Maine businesses? So hit Block. Glad that feature was there.

3. Use DM for God's Sake. There's a feature where someone can send a Direct Message (DM) to someone else on Twitter. That feature needs to be used way more than it already is. We would have exponentially more time in our Social Media lives if there wasn't a need to wade through what are basically personal comments between two people. (Although I think you can't DM someone you're not following - which leaves global message as only option?)

4. Conference Live Tweeting often has little to do with the content of conference. I recently followed a conference and sent tweets about it. Out of several thousand attending, I'd guess maybe 30 were actually using the meeting hashtag (#) to report. Many of those were going to the same meetings, and a few only talking about the blogger's lounge or where they were hanging out that night. Was wishing the idea of "meeting up" meant attending meetings and sending info about the content itself. There were many reading the # content though even if not attending or commenting, as I learned from all the email I got.

5. Meeting planners need to absolutely ensure wireless access. It is now beyond seriously aggravating to not be able to get wireless connection, even for cell phone access, at conferences. If any of your meeting space is in a basement, and hundreds or thousands are going to spending part of the day down there, why not make it easy for them to communicate? I learned a BIG lesson with my total frustration trying to use Twitter in a basement meeting room (i.e., don't let it happen to my own meeting attendees.)

6. There are serious people to follow on Twitter. I'm finding members of our legislature. While those same people are great at responding to email, it's been really enjoyable reading their random/specific observations about what's happening at the State House. There's also one association exec in Maine doing a really good job reporting on his industry via Twitter (@mainemerchants) which is teaching me how it can be effectively used by an association. Which is actually a big question in my mind.

7. If businesses are handing out special discounts via Twitter, then count me in. I like travel bargains, and the fact JetBlue (@JetBlue and many other businesses) send out limited specials is appealing. Yes, I would go to some random place in Europe with one day's notice.

8. Get your association's name, nickname or acronym on Twitter before it's too late. Didn't we learn that lesson with domain names?

9. Even 140 characters doesn't stop mistakes. I can make just as many mistakes with a small amount of space to work with as I can with an unlimited amount of space. But unlike blog and Facebook postings, there's no removing that bad info (unless there is and I just don't know how to do it yet?)

10. Twitter is incredibly time-consuming but definitely skill-building. You'd think that bite-sized would be easier but it's actually much harder. I find writing a blog to take exponentially time than Twitter. There is just such massive amounts to wade through on Twitter (even participating in really small way). But, it's definitely helping me to think about how to reduce words in my association e-newsletter too as I try to reduce words to communicate on Twitter. And some day I may really post a picture 10 seconds after I take it instead of later that evening.

11. Following a hashtag can be like the good ol' days of AOL chat room. When AOL started one thing I loved about chat rooms is they actually stayed on topic. So if I went to a foreign movie chat room (the topic I liked) we actually talked about movies. But in no time at all chat rooms on any topic seemed to move from the topic to talking to each other about their lives and becoming friends with each other - and rarely the topic of the chat room. On Twitter, certain hashtags can really be about a topic (like #idol for American Idol) while others read like a personal clique. Can there finally be a way to stay on topic?!

12. Twitter users are a mighty helpful group. There is definitely a camaraderie that builds among those who use Social Media; and users are enormously helpful in explaining how to do it. I've been attending meetings for 25 years, and the volume of comments specific to my blog, or Facebook, or Twitter has seriously escalated with In Real Life (IRL) encounters/discussions with those same people. We all know a lot about each other now.

13. Decision-makers may not be on Twitter. It's possible the ones using Twitter confuse their online following volume with the volume needed to actually influence policy. There was a whole group on Twitter deeply engaged in a particular policy issue at our national association. But then most of them seemed to leave the meeting and many apparently didn't even think maybe they needed to pass on their comments and expertise to the people who had actual votes on the issue. The first rule of political engagement is learning how a bill becomes a law. If you're all talk, and leave out connecting and educating the ones who actually have the power to vote to change, then shame on you - not shame on them. And remember the person/people representing an organization on Twitter may actually not know how to convert conversation into actual organizational influence. Here's an interesting related post from Kevin Holland on how associations may also over-react to a small segment of membership on Twitter.

14. I don't like Twitter updates on Facebook. Even if Twitter comments can show up in Facebook updates, I don't know if they should. Too many @ signs and comments that appear way out of context on their own. And I definitely don't want to read the same thing twice which is what happens if friends with the same person on both Twitter and Facebook who uses that "repeat me" application.

15. If you want to check instant customer service potential, try Twitter. Some organizations/businesses have staff assigned to monitor Twitter - and they will respond exponentially quicker than calling or email. Always worth a try. I just sent a Tweet to someone who didn't answer an email request. Not sure someone can't get a Tweet the way they might not get an email.

Did I leave anything out?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

How many ways do you plan to say the same thing?

I saw something interesting today and had immediate dilemma - which way to communicate it:

1. E-newsletter (email)
2. Post on association web site
3. Association Facebook page
4. Personal Facebook page
5. Twitter
6. Association blog

Since my association doesn't have print communications (and rarely direct mail), didn't have to add those options to the list too. Or there would be 8 options.

The thing is, there are members who get communications from us all 6 ways so the idea of giving the exact same info to them 6 ways is somewhat horrific. If it was me, by the time I got the same thing the third time I'd by annoyed and really stop reading - and if it kept happening I'd start removing some of the contact options as I'd really only need it once. For example, I stopped having the newspaper delivered after knowing I had already read most of the articles online.

The other detail is some of the communications options overlap - because they can with social media. So a blog post can land on Facebook, and also be noted via Twitter. An email may relay there's a blog post. And all 4 may arrive within minutes of each other. Maybe this makes sense with the most urgent association info - such as a legislative crisis - but maybe not with general association news, updates and articles. Do members have the time and desire to see the same thing from us 6 or 8 times - the same day/week?

When my association transitioned from print to fax to email, the effort was to have the most timely vehicle have the most timely info. But now, 5 out of 6 communications options have the same degree of timeliness potential - that is, immediate delivery. So my thinking is that each communications vehicle needs to be as unique as possible - not just each being a shorter summary of the other or all linking to the exact same place. But it's a struggle.

When there's something interesting to report, how will you decide which way to do it?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Connecting with significantly more members ...

After identifying the "biggest loser" association programs in their budget, this is what happened next ... (Note - association here) ...

"We brought all our findings to the board as part of our overall discussions as to how we can best apply association resources for the benefit of our members.

The upshot - the board agreed to eliminate the golf tournament and we reallocated much of those resources to produce a Broker Summit in March (with national speaker) and a Membership Appreciation Week. [Their Membership Appreciation Week in early May included education sessions each day, networking events - such as YO PRO for young professionals, "lick and drip" ice cream social, lunch/grilling in parking lot, prize drawings. All at no charge.]

The benefit of both is they connect us with significantly more members, they focus on their business (i.e., education, business development) and they encourage members during a difficult market (e.g., lunches, drawings, social interaction, positive energy, etc.)

So, we told our members these two programs are their new golf tournament.

Staff did a great job of welcoming members, initiating conversations and activating their engagement in our activities. The board and other leaders assisted with the grilling and serving. Member feedback has been extremely positive!

(Note - the board also agreed to greatly downsize our year end holiday event/installation and replace it with a leadership reception/installation.)"

Thanks to Mark Allen for great ideas!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Your Association's "Biggest Loser"?

A colleague in Minneapolis had his management team do an exercise as part of the budget review: Identify the association's "biggest losers". That is, the program(s) that cost the most in staff time and dollars that touch or benefit the fewest members.

Their biggest losers: 1. the golf tournament; 2. the installation ceremony.

Do you know what your biggest losers are? What are you doing about it?

Find out tomorrow how that association weighed, then redirected its golf tournament efforts ...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quote of the Day

"People respond well to someone who's sure of what they want." - Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, whose interview aired on "60 Minutes" tonight.

I've been asked about leadership a couple of times recently, and really believe confidence can play a large role in motivating others and getting results. Agree with Anna Wintour on this one.

Picture from site

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Now THIS is a good (free) hotel benefit ...

As part of its guest loyalty program, Omni hotels will press 2 items at no cost. Why have I been ironing in hotel rooms all these years?

It's free to sign up, and other benefits include wireless and coffee delivered each morning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fundraising: If you can't attend, how about ...

Got an invitation to a fundraising event I wouldn't normally attend (though great cause). This year, a card was inserted with a picture of earrings that had been donated - and on reverse said $10/ticket for raffle - and made it easy to include credit card info. As I reached for my wallet, I realized it's a really good fundraising idea. Why not give everyone a chance/reason to participate easily, even if not attending?

Although I'd include options of fax and online donations on the card too instead of just ability to mail back the card.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ad Space: Using What You've Got

My association has only used our building twice in the last 20 years to send a message to the public. First time when a member was a candidate for Congress; this time to promote a big incentive to buy a home. It's a fairly inexpensive way to send a message, especially given all the traffic that passes by our building.

Do you use what you've already got?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Look under your desk ...

This morning a gift bag was on my desk and inside was a boxed gift wrapped in tissue paper - gemstone earrings. Quite beautiful, actually. Only problem: no card, no idea where they came from. Details of the mystery:

1. Lots of stuff was on my desk because (annual) carpet cleaners had been in our office after-hours and I clearly didn't pick up everything. So they moved things onto surfaces, including my desk;

2. Only one person was at the office later than me on Wednesday, two came in earlier than me this morning, and none delivered a gift or was the gift-giver. Although the carpet-cleaners were there.

My guess is that I got another gift in that bag at some point, didn't notice there was another gift in there; but liked the bag, so kept it. And then didn't think about it again. I don't even know what YEAR I might have received it ...


1. Look under your desk - never know what you might find (or the carpet cleaners might find);

2. Think about wrapping gifts in tissue paper. It might look like it's just tissue paper if it's in a gift bag, especially if there's already another gift (and you're not standing there to say "keep looking!")

Oh, and thanks for the earrings. I didn't mean to not wear or mention them ...

Unless the carpet cleaners REALLY appreciate our business?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Twitter: Thoughts on Oprah and My First Tweets

Oprah and Kirstie Alley discussed Twitter on a recent show. Kirstie mistakenly called it "Snitter" and says she's going to use it to note her upcoming weight loss effort. Oprah response: "Twitter is time consuming". My thoughts:

1. Oprah runs a worldwide media empire and finds TWITTER to be "time consuming"?!

2. She's done 29 tweets in 18 days (6 on first day, during show); has over 841,000 people following her - and she follows 11 (all celebrities or athletes). Tweets include dog getting rabies shot, making a donation, what she's eating, video she did from flip phone, excitement about Hugh Jackman. I don't care what anyone says about Twitter not being the "what I ate" service - no matter who it is, somehow, sometime there's talk about what they're eating. (Hmmm .. will I do that too?) FYI - Oprah's audience likes updates on her dog and diet.

3. Gotta love that Oprah didn't need to go to more than 5-minutes of social media school to do it - but first tweet she did all caps and called everyone Twitters (instead of Twitterers) - there's a whole lingo to the Twitter thing.

I'm up to my first two tweets on Twitter - linking to a blog post I like, and wondering why ASAE thinks they need to spend PR money. The latter using the Twitter hashtag (#) feature so my comment will show up in a centralized site about it. Thoughts:

1. You can go right to a twitter URL to see what someone has posted - and bookmark. You don't actually have to subscribe (but can if you're on Twitter). For example, mine is

2. For better or worse ASAE's new "Power of A" site is packed with Tweets and links to negative blog posts (or "how I can do it better" posts/tweets). Huge kudos to them for their willingness to have that Twitter stream prominently displayed on their site. I find ASAE hugely instructional and interesting for their continuous experimentation. Really helps me learn/decide what to do/not do with my own association.

3. I'm following 8 people so far and getting quite a bit of volume. There's no way on earth I think anyone can reasonably read, manage or follow 1,000 people and do their association job at the same time (unless it's big-time pretend and a multitude get filed away in some non-display folder?) By the way, like all other social media, you can check it once a day vs. continuously - so doesn't have to be consuming or interfering if you don't want it to be.

Is your association activating a Twitter stream feature on your association website? Do you WANT the continuous stream of comments on your site?

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Acronym: BYOP

BYOP: Bring Your Own Purell

Since the CDC (and everyone else) is recommending thoroughly washing hands before and after eating (and other times), and since our meetings include lunch, I thought we'd have Purell (liquid alcohol-based hand sanitizer) for everyone. Can't even find ONE bottle to buy or order, much less 60. And our two restrooms surely can't quickly accommodate 60 people "thoroughly" washing their hands before/after lunch.

My new acronym for meeting attendees: BYOP - Bring Your Own Purell

Here's info from Purell on hand sanitizers for flu prevention versus soap and water. (Short answer - good, but not as effective)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Facebook: The litmus test for being a Fan

There is way too much to learn about social media. It's not just participating in "the conversation" ... it's what's happening with it .... and the re-distribution of our thoughts, image, participation.

There's a picture of a Fan in a Facebook ad - who I know. And I wonder if SHE knows she's advertising for that company (in their ad), as a Fan on their Facebook Page. My guess is no, she doesn't know.

Clearly anyone who makes the personal decision to be a Fan on a Facebook Group or Page is actually advertising for them ... their picture is on the site as a Fan, it shows up in the News Feed, and listed on their own page.

But ... is it a bit disarming to imagine your picture as the only one in the company's ad because of the Fan thing? The image/Fan choice must be related to who among my friends may be connected to them. It's a Facebook ad feature called "Social Ad." And not new - here's a Wired article from Jan. '08.

When ordering a Facebook ad for my own association's campaign I noticed a default set to Social Ad. I unclicked it. I also stopped being a Fan of the group that's running the ad with a Social Ad feature. Not ready to be their unknowing spokesmodel. Are you?

So here's a litmus test: Before you accept being a Fan, or before you seek out being a Fan of any organization (or group, person, product), do you like them ENOUGH that it's okay for your image and fan status to show up in their ad?