Category Archives: Communication

Video tools, apps and tips

It’s the final concurrent session of ASTD2014, we are going to make a video. It should be easy, (almost) free, relevant and successful. Bring it on Stacy Bodenner!

 

So, your CEO comes to you and says “Make me a film for our 30th anniversary”. You have a USB microphone, a webcam and $300… *

20140507-134525.jpg
* I’m secretly hoping to beat this budget, but frankly, it’s not much of a cost to off-set if you will make more than one film

 

Tools you might want

 

What apps or software can I make video with?

  • ScreenR allows you to capture whatever is on your PC screen + add audio. Easy and intuitive.
  • MS PowerPoint if you just want to convert your PPT slides into simple video – make it less text-driven and feel free to use some animation. Click on “send to”..
  • Vine app if 6 seconds is enough for you
  • Animoto app if you want to use videos (Vine included) and photos already on a smartphone or tablet
  • MS Movie Maker (free on MS) allows you to trim video, add photos, sound and transitions
  • Garage Band if you want to make your own music. It’s easy, even if you are not a musician and don’t have instruments. Honestly! Cost about $6. Or just get on Creative Commons for a list of free legal music sources
  • If you want a a full editing suite at about $12 on ipad, try Pinnacle (formally known as Avid Studio)

 

Little tips

  • Make a storyboard in advance to think about what you want to show and say
  • Use the rule of thirds for set-up of your picture frames
  • Avoid having light coming through windows onto your subject’s face
  • You can use MS PPT slides to make logo images or backgrounds or transition slides
  • Render your video in the highest possible quality
  • Keep your videos short … 30 to 90 seconds
  • Take the time to add some title or closing text

 

See also my tips from Matt Pierce at ASTD2013

Thanks for reading!

 

What’s in a name? How name change works

ASTD has announced that it is changing its name to ATD: “The Association for Talent Development”. Having started my working career in the international branding agency Nomen, I was particularly interested in the news and reactions by members. To be immediately clear on my opinion, I think it is a good change and hope it will be as best executed as possible over the coming period.

 

The process for a name change is lengthy, costly and massively important to any business organisation. The name must reflect the brand and achieve whatever business goals necessary.

 

It all starts with a good naming brief

The first step is to create a well structured briefing that outlines the brand (image) that the name must communicate. In the case of A(S)TD, I assume there were two major requirements in order to enlarge the scope of the association: Remove the “American” and reduce the immediate and exclusive focus on “Training”. In the case of A(S)TD, these 2 requirements seem very sensible to me. As our industry has evolved, we all understand that learning is more than training. Given the international scope of the organisation (as proven by the 9000+ international attendees at this year’s conference) it also seems natural to want to reflect that in the brand. The other semantic requirements are unknown to me, but may include things like “performance driven”, “giving a sense of prestige”, “connected and collaborative”, “focussing on human potential”, “focused on results” etc etc..

Today I have heard from various conference attendees the new name does not say what it ought to. More on this later.

 

There are other considerations that must be included in the briefing that are common to all name creation including who must understand the brand, specific language or length requirements, where and how it will be used, fit with other names in the brand portfolio, differentiation from competitors etc… It is important the right people are involved in creating the naming brief, in order that the name does what it must across the business. Involvement can also help with adoption of the new name and smoothing the change process.

Today I have heard complaints that the focus on “talent” does not fit with other A(S)TD brands related to “workforce development” and “training design and delivery”. I also heard disappointment that other people were not consulted, to illicit their opinion. As I understood it, the board, communications and marketing departments worked in close collaboration with the branding agency.

 

Name creation is an art in itself

The creative phase for name creation begins with a team of people who look for different possible ways to evoke the brand in words. Normally, this phase is not initially restricted by specific conditions like type or length of name. A creative team is charged with looking for descriptions and associations that can communicate what was laid out in the brief, then turning them into names. At this point, various creation strategies can be considered, including use of patronymics (“Johnson and Johnson”) and 4 other specific types of name structure:

20140506-234845.jpg

A(S)TD has chosen to use descriptive dictionary terms for the name. The biggest value of (staying with) this choice is in search-engine optimisation and comprehension across international languages. In principle, given the choice to stay with a simple English name, most languages will at least understand the name and it will yield search results. People in our profession do not search for random associative made-up terms. They search for terms that mean something to them, eg “association”, “learning”, “talent”, “training”, “development”.

 

In a more creative brainstorming activity, the focus is first on associations and analogy, looking for other ways to say what must be communicated. A variety of creative techniques are used. Out of this creative phase, many names are created that will be immediately filtered out in the selection phase, as they obviously do not fit to the briefing requirements.

Suggestions made in the conference backchannel today range from “The Intergalactic Association of Doing Everything” to “Global Performance Insititute”.

 

Not every name you create actually works

In the first selection phase, some clients immediately fall in love with a name; others see a direction that they like that must be further elaborated by the creative team.

When arriving at a shortlist of names, the second selection phase begins. Here, names are subjected to consideration by a panel of native-speaking people from the target languages to ensure they are understood as required, can be sufficiently pronounced, do not give the wrong “feeling” and do not say something bad for other language speakers.

Some years ago, Toyota famously created the brand name “MR2”. When pronounced in French, this can be heard as either “merde” (shit) or emmerdeur (someone who makes things difficult or “stirs shit”). When I heard the name for our organisation, I could imagine that all 3 words were reasonably international, translating well in terms of core meaning.

 

Although the order of filtering activities may differ, a cost-conscious branding agency will now conduct a domain-name availability search to see if the name (or acceptable iterations) are available for use with required root domains (.com .org etc). Until the release of “creative root domains” this exercise restricted choices enormously. Almost anything you can think of in the descriptive dictionary category of names is almost always gone or else it is far too long. It is amazing to me that A(S)TD was able to secure TD.org as the chances of even getting a 2,3,4 letter word are almost impossible. Its a shame that ATD.org was not available.

At this point, having ruled out names that cannot work, it is time for final elaboration of what is left, if anything. Here, the actual target audience is shown the name and market research is conducted to see if the name really works or not.

When I heard the name, I was extremely pleased that the scope of our activities had been enlarged to the level of “talent”. In continental Europe, many HR Directors were some years ago rebranded as “Talent Directors”; HR itself became “Talent Management”. Speaking with many American colleagues, I was surprised by their reaction. They told me that “talent” evokes for them the idea of fickle Hollywood movie stars. I also heard many people saying the focus should not have been on the people, but on the business results (“performance”). And finally, people complained that their opinion was not solicited.

 

Even when it works, you may not be able to use it

When the final shortlist of names has been chosen, legal and trademarking issues need to be considered. The aim of trademark registration is to protect the brand name from unfair use by other organisations.

A first search is done to see if any other organisations in relevant sectors or geographic regions are using the name itself or any close resemblance. “Resemblance” includes partially comparable words and even synonyms. This search is difficult, lengthy and costly, and must be done by legal professionals to ensure that no subsequent legal action will be taken against the company using the new name. The basic argument is: You cannot use a name that is the same as or too close to another that has been sufficiently used (or registered) by another similar company in the region you want to register your name in. If you did, you would unfairly profit from the brand-loyalty and goodwill built-up for that name by the other company. Business names can be registered in multiple domains and regions and the cost is relative to the level of protection requested.

In the case of A(S)TD, it must have been costly and difficult to find, research and protect the new name. The chances of your name NOT being used in a similar way is much lower when you are using descriptive dictionary words. These chances are further reduced when the name must be registered across multiple geographical regions.

 

20140507-074213.jpg

 

..and when you have a name, you have a change process to do

All change is likely to causes problems, and take time and expertise. The same is true for a name, particularly so because names carry a strong sense of identity and precedence. Imagine if you had to change your own name..

Without considering logo and design issues (by the way, I love the logo… ask me why!) the name change process requires a massive amount of communication and administration. Marketing collateral like websites, print and merchandising will need to be changed and a choice must be made between replacing all iterations of the old name, removing all old-name content, or doing nothing. People need to be informed and the transition needs to be managed, from email signatures to letterheads and PPT templates.

 

But the hardest part of the change is getting people to adopt the new name and love it.

I have heard concerns about the financial implications of the rebrand for the chapters, as well as uncertainty about timings and process. Although people have been told that that information will arrive very quickly, I also heard complaints that it was not provided in advance to more people; people most directly affected.

 

In any change, some people will love it quickly and some will hate it forever. Some people will try it out immediately and others will need more time. The longer the history with “what was the case”, the less likely people will love what is new. Much has been written and taught about change management with regard to this phenomenon. And the ASTD name has a rich history! There are always complaints when a strong brand changes identity and any complaints today are therefore credit to the strength of the A(S)TD brand.

Complaints here include those who say that many opportunities were missed to announce the change to a limited group of early-adopters or influential people outside of the A(S)TD central offices. This could have helped to ease the pain of transition and could have created a bigger pool of supporters to promote the new name to others, following the full-on official announcement.

 

But whatever happens next, the new name is here to stay

Like a new-born arriving in a family, everything can go a little crazy. People can get moody or excited, and everyone needs support to adapt. Complaints like those noted above happen every time. But as the transition takes place over time, if the staff at A(S)TD help those affected to see the value, administrate the change and use the name well, in some time everyone will forget there was ever another name.

And whatever you think, it is there and we all have a choice to be positive or negative.

Welcome to ATD!

 

Thanks for reading,
D

ps Is someone going to refund the ASTD t-shirt I bought on Sunday?

 

 

Mindreader Sally Hogshead shows me my value so I can define my personal anthem

Sally Hogshead says she can help up to fascinate people with the perfect words in 9 seconds. As I have traditionally steered away from vendor presentations at the conference, I rather arrogantly (although privately) put the Award-winning American advertising copywriter to the test immediately by offering her 9 seconds to keep me in the room. I’m still here 🙂 Let’s go for session TU118 of the ASTD2014 International Conference and Exposition

 

Sally Hogshead says that many people underestimate their ability to fascinate people, but that in today’s environment we need to grab people’s attention and show value immediately. She promises me that by the time I leave the room she will give me the perfect words to describe myself. I will walk out of the room more valuable. Sounds nice!

To kick things off, we heard the story of a ride at the Disney Epcot Center where visitors are offered a choice between a green or orange ticket for the ride. If you take the green ticket, you sign up for a safe, easy ride (think kids and grannies). If you take the orange ticket, you are warned about the possibility of injury, adventure and sickness. The people who go for the orange ticket ride were seen taking pictures of themselves about to go on the ride, tweeting and sharing the experience and coming back for more, telling their friends how awesome it was. The green-ticket people just went in and came out. No fuss, no fan-fair, no brand loyalty and championship. But in fact, both had the same ride!

 

The greatest value you can add is to show more of who you really are

Hogshead says that people will pay more for someone they like and trust. The product and the service comes second – what counts is the person you are doing business with, the brand and the perceived added-value. In my role as a presentation skills trainer and with ideas from my life as a marketeer and brand-namer, I think talk about being FAB and showing the real WIIFM. So I’m sold on the importance of (personal) branding already. Our speaker today says that the best high performing people provide a specific benefit, they are worth more than they are being paid and they over-deliver on expectations. And if we know who we are and what value we can add, we can communicate that.

According to our speaker, many of the personality and preference tests on the market focus on who you are and how you perceive yourself. But her company offers a test to show how others see you. With that knowledge, you can choose the right words to show your value. When everyone knows what their highest value is and how to show it, they feel more empowered and work better.

 

At this point, I started to get cynical: On one hand, we need to show our unique value. We need to create a personal anthem (tagline) that shows the benefit of our strengths to the world. But on the other hand, Sally Hogshead says she can help me find me archetype from a pre-set matrix and give me the words to use. Surely if everyone does this, we are going to have every LinkedIn profile looking the same and full of the same anthems?!?? Where’s the uniqueness in that? So I (again arrogantly) challenged Sally on this and this is what happened:

1. She invited me up to the stage. More on this later…
2. She described me to the rest of the participants. Almost perfectly and very complete. We had only met 30 minutes before (my first challenge…. I feel so bad!) but her description was spot on: What turns me on, what turns me off. How I like to interact with people and how I like to add value…
3. She gave me words to use to describe myself: “I’m an innovator who likes to inspire people to find new ways to do things.”

 

49 personality archetypes

How did she do this? Sally’s answer: I gave off very distinct cues (that she picked up on) that fit into her matrix of 49 personality archetypes. 49! Not 4. It was like a magic trick, or mind-reading. She got me in an instant.

20140506-110957.jpg

 

But what about this idea of fascinating in 9 seconds??

To show value to others in 9 seconds, you need to be able to tell how you are the perfect solution to their problem. To get this right, the participants were first offered the chance to take the test on HowToFascinate.com to see which of the 49 archetypes they had. Here’s mine:

20140506-115104.jpg

 

For each of the 49 archetypes, Sally Hogshead’s matrix offers a set of adjectives that best describe you. Her book also offers a set of nouns. Add one of the specific adjectives for your archetype (whichever you prefer) to the right nouns (see the book, page 365) and you have your anthem. Here’s mine:

20140506-115225.jpg

(Coming back to what I said earlier, I guess Sally invited me up because when I first met her (coming in the room) she picked up on my prestige quality – I haven’t read the book yet, but I when I hear “prestige” I also hear a need to be in the centre of things….)

So I’m a progressive ideas man. That sounds OK to me. What I plan to do now is to build this descriptor into something a little more sexy, a little more FAB and a little more me.

Watch this space!

Thanks for reading
D

Promote your hotel Facebook page – some ideas

Staying at my favourite hotel in Gent, I have been discussing with the staff ideas on how they can promote their Facebook fan page. Here are my ideas:

 

General ideas

  • Open your page to comments from people – you can always delete them later if you want, but it’s good to leave people freedom to add something. Personally, I would choose the option to allow comments to be added without moderation from you. There is no real risk if you can delete them anyway.
  • Comment on the pages of local events, businesses, mentioning your FB page
  • Invite your personal FB friends and ask everyone you know personally to do the same with their FB friends
  • Find other people on Facebook that are commenting actively on other related pages and send them a FB message introducing your page and asking them to visit it, like it
  • After you have created a bit of content and the page starts to work, send one email to all existing hotel contacts from your database telling them the page exists and asking them to like it, share it with friends or run a competition
  • Add your FB site address to your email signature, invoices and other social media presence, eg Twitter account
  • Publish diverse content – 2 times a week, Tuesday or Thursday +/- 7pm or during the weekend
  • Plan your posts with www.Hootsuite.com so that it can happen when you are not there. That means that once a week/month, you can spend 30 minutes planning content for the coming period, rather than have to actually do it every time on Facebook
  • Don’t publish so much about your own hotel. Publish more about related on-brand things that encourage people to see your hotel as a good place to be in Gent. Events, places to visit, Gent history, other restautants you like, a new movie opening up, local musicians….
  • When you publish something about your hotel, make it more interesting than a photo or menu
  • Ask questions, eg: “We are listening to “The Bee Gees” this morning. What’s your favourite early-morning music?”
  • Do a mini interview with someone who works in the hotel
  • Use a blend of media, especially short videos of max 90 seconds
  • To make a network platform work, you need to ask, give and thank. Examples….

 

Ask

  • Ask people to visit the page, like, share and leave a review. You can do that on the back of your WIFI code paper, on placemats for drinks at the bar, on papers at each place in the conference centre and fter people have stayed, sending them an email asking for like, share, review or comment.
  • Run a competition, asking people to take a photo of their stay in Gent and publish on the page, then share with friends. The one with the most “likes” wins. This encourages people to share something from your page with their own FB friends, which means more visibility (and maybe likes) for your page..

 

Give

  • Info about on-brand things going on around Gent, eg cinema, events and ther local businesses
  • When confirming bookings, tell people if they like the page they get a free coffee or other drink, a few chocolate etc..

 

Thank

  • “Like” anything anyone adds or says
  • Add comments when people comment
  • Continue verbally thanking people for their effort when you see them in the hotel

 

Finally: My own experience tells me that if you set some targets for Facebook page success, this will motivate you to do more and get better results.

 

Have fun!

@dan_steer

 

Amy Jo Hart on Education to Ensure Value from Social Media

Amy Jo Hart is one of the top five Twitterers in the world, New York Times best selling author and leading expert on the monetisation of social-media. Kicking-off day 2 of the ASTD TechKnowledge 2014 Conference, she is here to tell us that social-media value and “Return on Influence” comes from its humanisation and that if we want it to work, we need to educate our people …

Millions of people are active on social media. Billions even. And the potential for business, marketing and learning is huge. Amy Jo Martin knows it: Activities like her “random acts of Shaqness” have helped sports-people and big-name companies around the world to create social media influence and to humanise their brands. She believes that social-media based communication is relevant to every part of your business and as such, you need to make it work right.

According to Martin, social-media success is not about what you do, but why you do it. People don’t care about your products and services. People connect and stay connected to you (and your brand) because they believe what you believe. Her formula for SoMe influence is a blend of cold metrics (reach, followers, fans etc) x warm metrics (sentiment and engagement).

As Charlene Li has told us before, different people use SoMe in different ways. The aim is therefore to get real engagement from real fans and followers.

If we measure the payback of this engagement, we can start to see real value. Martin measures that ROI payback as revenue per available fan and followers on social media. Count your revenue and divide it by the number of fans or followers. If we can increase our influence and humanise the brand, we can increase our revenue.

So the question is: “What should we be doing around social-media in our companies?

One of the key messages Martin brings is that everyone is involved in our brand success: All the employees and all the customers. Everyone can be a brand-champion. And those same people might equally destroy the years of hard-work that have gone into creating your brand equity. If we want to get things right and create real SoMe ROI we need to educate our own people on how to do it well and give costumes good reason to say and share the right things about our brand.

In our own organisations, education on how to use social-media effectively helps us to decrease the liability of social-media based mistakes. It helps to create brand-ambassadors out of our employees. It can help people to develop within their profession. And of course it can save money for the company.

From teaching employees how to use a hashtag properly 🙂 to community management, crisis communication or social-media for HR and recruitment, education of your people is key to social-media success.

In Belgium, many of the large traditional organisations (banks, governments, insurance companies) are starting to understand the value of this education and are rolling out programmes across the organisation. I have been invited by Kluwer Training to deliver retraining on a variety of SoMe topics, from its use in marketing to its use in learning + developing itself. Hopefully they will see the results that Martin expects.

Looking for ideas for social-media education? Check out www.digitalroyaltyuniversity.com

Thanks for reading!
D

Screen Video: 17 Best Practices (Regardless of the Tool) from Matt Pierce

Screen video is on the rise. As people flip their classrooms, use mobile devices and seek new ways to get knowledge, learning professionals will need to master the art of screen video. Tips from Matt Pierce at Tech Knowledge in Las Vegas…

First, what is useful to record?

If you go online and try to see how tools work, there is plenty of content about the basics. These “how-to” lessons tell us the basics and answer the common questions. Focus your efforts on the difficult stuff, the errors, the specific things your people are trying to achieve. FAQs.

Ask questions to define your audience

Before you start recording, think about who is going to watch, when, how, where. Take your time to think about how this will make your content and format different. Is there one good way to do things? No… Adapt to all this!

Storyboard your screen video

If you ask Pixar or the rest of the movie world where they put the most effort in making movies, the answer is the storyboard. Think about what you are going to do in what order.

Make a script… If you need to

According to Pierce, the need for a script is proportional to your level of expertise. If you are an expert, you might be able to “wing-it” a bit more. But if you are less sure of your content, write a script. As a disclaimer, Pierce notes that the better he scripts his screen video, the more likely he will be able to tell his 5 minute story in 2 minutes. Script leads to minimum effective dose.

Remember, length is an issue

There is no correct answer to how long a screen video should be. But as a general rule, the shorter the better (provided it is effective). Focus on key messages. If you need to make 3 short films, this might be better than one long one. If you can provide references in your video where people can get more info, this is also a good way to shorten the video.

Bad audio ruins good video

According to Matt Pierce audio IS an issue. If you have taken the time to capture the screen well, put effort into the audio too. Get a USB microphone for your PC to avoid the fan sound. If you are using a headset (and don’t need to listen as well) flip the microphone around so its underneath your mouth, not in front of it. And get rid of as much noise pollution as possible…

Don’t worry about the sound of your voice

Options number one is to simply get over it. This will be easier if you realise that what you hear is not what others hear. But there is another option: Get someone else to speak!

Don’t show big chunks of text in your video

People don’t expect a lot of text in screen videos. They like image and movement. If you must put text, keep it short and build it up. Whatever happens, avoid big text!

Use your voice as a tool

No-one wants to hear you talking like you read. Your voice has volume, intonation, speed and articulation. Use these elements to modulate your voice and bring attention to specific parts. This will create better understanding and keep attention. Just like in a presentation…

Be careful with humour… it’s subjective

The best way to gauge humour is to get pre-back or feedback. See what works with your audience. Ask them. Do a dry-run or publish for 1 or 2 people before you release for everyone.

Think about screen size

According to Pierce, most modern devices will have a wide screen. But in reality, people use different devices to look at different content. Again, there are no golden rules. You need to know your audience.. Whatever you do, start with good quality and be consistent in size-usage across the record/edit/produce cycle. Pierce suggests 1280*720 (or bigger) for all steps. You can always make it smaller later…

Be mindful of what you show around the things you are actually teaching

Get rid of other applications so people can’t see what else you are up to (Facebook!). Turn off any and all notifications – you don’t want to ruin all your best efforts by having an email pop-up while you record your screen. Pierce suggests even having another computer used only for screen recording to avoid any issues.

Balance translation efforts to expected ROI of the learning

If you work in a multinational environment, you might have different languages in your target groups. What are the options for dealing with this? What can you do to reduce viewer effort?

  • Add subtitles
  • Make it again in the other language
  • Dub it eight another voice
  • Provide text translation in a supporting document
  • Encourage people to pause, take their time or even slow down the video
  • Provide channels for support outside of the video
  • Break down your video into smaller, easier to swallow chunks
  • Slow down with your screen captures
  • Be careful with music

    Jingles are very popular for the marketing department, who want to put it at the start and end of every educational video. But the user will soon get sick of it. Transition music between main chunks of information is good to create and re-win user attention. But whatever you do, don’t fill the video background with music. It doesn’t work!

    Change your mouse settings

    Two simple tips: Make your mouse-cursor bigger and slow down the mouse movement speed. Both of these will make it easier for others to follow what you are actually doing.

    Use transitions well

    First of all: Use them. A visual transition helps to create and re-win attention. But what is most important is that the transitions you use should have meaning (they happen between topics, for example) and be consistent (use the same transitions to show the same structural changes).

    Apply the rule of thirds, especially when filming people

    Read about this here: http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds

    Thanks for reading!
    D

    TKChat: Building Communities, with Jane Bozarth and Mark Oehlert

    Mark Britz is introducing the first TKChat at #astdTK14 on the topic of “Building Communities”. Armed with our 2 experts Jane Bozarth and Mark Oehlert it’s time to find out how to make those communities work…

    To get the ball rolling @britz asks Jane and Mark to first clarify the meaning of “community”. What does this word mean?

    Managers think of communities as another channel to force content top-down onto employees. Others are trying to create teams and better teamwork. But according to our speakers, community is really about purpose and common needs and objectives. With free will, people get together to share and make things happen. When you get started with building a community, you need therefore to first find that shared sense of purpose.

    How do you get started with building an organisational community?

    Oehlert says that the very first thing to do is to see what is already going on in the organisation. Does the community already exist? Learning people don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at the organisation and see what communities already exist. Then ask yourself: “How can we better support that?”

    See also “Analysing and Evaluating Informal Social Networks

    Once you are ready to go, it is important to be clear about the added-value of creating (or formalising) the community. If you can’t iterate the added-value of the community to people, they won’t use it.

    See also “Answer the 3 most important questions to convince your audience

    What are the keys to making things work with a community?

    First of all, Jane says that we must not just use the tool that comes with the LMS because it comes with the LMS. Look to see where people are currently getting in contact with each other and go there.

    Secondly, realise that it’s not because you build it that they will come. Community building takes time. People are not going to be hyper-active with their sharing and asking just because you made a new tool.

    This leads to the third point: Community management takes time as well. Someone needs to be there to stoke the fire, to encourage people and to show (online) community best-practice.

    How can we encourage people to start using community tools, share and narrate their work?

    Start by finding out what is going wrong in people’s jobs, where they have troubles and how community activity could help. This will give you a way in and direction for content-sharing.

    It would be easy to say that the community doesn’t work just because the culture isn’t ready. Any ideas?

    Despite the fact that young people obviously dig sharing in communities, that doesn’t mean that other people don’t. Oehlert says that everyone is in some kind of community. Maybe not online, but somewhere they are talking with like-minded people, whether it be on a mum-sharing site, a local town community organisation or elsewhere. They do know the value of a community and they probably know how to use one. We just need to get it working at work…

    On the other hand, Jane adds that if your organisation doesn’t share already, having a online community is not going to make it happen. First work on breaking down silos and getting people willing to share.

    Should we be controlling how communities function?

    Mark Oehlert’s first response is that you have to let the community grow in an organic way. If it moves in one direction and that brings value, let it be. And even if people start sharing less business-valuable content, they are still sharing.

    Secondly, it is important to realise that the new community tools we have today are not the issue when it comes to control. Control issues have always existed. If you have email or telephone, you have the risk of people sharing things in ways they should not. These new tools might make content sharing faster or larger (hence the risk is bigger) but if you had this “under Conti,” already and if people were professional, honest and useful already, they will be on the new tool.

    To finish this answer, Mark Oehlert adds that the best way to help things go in the right direction is to “walk the talk”. Share the things you want to see shared. Act the any you want other people to act.

    Should we have a big funky roll-out for the new tool?

    Jane Bozarth says this approach to kicking off a new community tool is dangerous. If you are going to start, start small and build it up. Look for people who have the community spirit and ask the to get involved. Start with content and sharing around something useful, so that when other people come to the tool they will find good content. This will encourage them.

    How can you create the best user-experience?

    Don’t just implement the tool you bought. Think about how people want to interact with the tool. Take the time to customise menu possibilities … after you get lots of feedback from the users about what they want!

    What should we be measuring in order to see if the community adds value?

    If you did the first step well (defining purpose) and if you have a good sense of business acumen then you should already know what you should be measuring. In addition to the usual things to measure (traffic, content and continuity) try to think about what the managers are thinking about:

  • What new innovation did we get since we started all this?
  • What problems have we solved?
  • How has our business grown? Are we seeing better results on the bottom-line?
  • Good chat!

    Other pieces of mine that might be interesting…

  • Online Community Management Tips and Best Practices
  • Use Yammer to Get Personal Value From Your Business Network
  • Making your Yammer Community Work – An Interview with Allison Michels
  • Thanks for reading
    D

    Create and maintain a Facebook fan page like “Dan Steer Music” – day 3

    3 days ago I started a Facebook page for my music. As a social media trainer, I thought it would be good for me to practice a little more what I preach, maybe learn some more. This post tells the story so far…

    By the way, if you haven’t liked the page or shared my first video song yet, do it now 🙂

    …seriously: Go there now. Its nearly Christmas, after all…

     

    A Facebook page is a great tool to create visibility and reach customers, reinforce brand and create conversation about your products and services. Doing it well is key and with these posts, I hope to give you an insight on what that means…

     

    Step 1: Define your objectives before you get started

    As with any marketing campaign, its important to know what you are trying to achieve. Clear measurable objectives will give you direction for your page activities, motivate you and give you guidelines to see if it was worth it.

    In my case, I want to build visibility for my music activities and position myself as a story-telling musician who writes nice songs and can actually play live. I have set the following targets:

    • 100 page likes in 1 month; 1000 likes in one year
    • Reach minimum 200 people per video post to the page
    • Book a gig via a Facebook connection within the first year
    • Sell 100 copies of my “Greatest Non-Hits CD” via Facebook (when I finally finish it)
    • At the moment, I have not set any other measurable objectives about the number or type of comments received on the page, although I do intend to use that content to gather feedback on my songs

     

    Step 2: Create your page

    This is easy enough. Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create and follow the steps. To think about:

    • Don’t cheat with the options. Be honest about the type of activity you are creating.
    • Add a simple description. If you are doing it for business reasons, make sure you are “on-brand” and include relevant keywords to potentially improve SEO results.
    • Choose a URL that is as descriptive as possible and includes good searchable keywords for people to find you. I chose DanSteerMusic as, frankly, if you were searching “Dan Steer” and “Music” that’s pretty clear. Of course, the trick is to find an address that is still available…
    • In the settings of your page, if you want to have conversation and “open posting” leave the options so that people can freely post things
    • Add a page “profile” picture. If you don’t do this, people will not recognise you or your page in their timeline. And frankly, it just looks really unprofessional.
    • Add a banner – I was lazy here, but at least its something (if you don’t know why I said that, why didn’t you visit and like my page yet!!!?!)
    • You will be given the chance to invite people already. Don’t do this yet!! Read on ….

     

    Step 3: Create some simple first content (before you invite people to like the page)

    This is important. If you invite people to like the page and there is nothing there, why would they like it? In my case, I added a first video of one of my songs, performed live in the bathroom 5 minutes before. (Intrigued? You shouldn’t be, because you should have looked at the page already!!!).

    Make sure your first content is not something like “Oh look, its me, I’m on Facebook”. You need to stay on-brand for your product or service, especially at the start.

     

    Step 4: Now you can invite people to come and see the page. And you should.

    As Jan Vermeiren said in “How to Really Use LinkedIn”, the success of any network or community depends on the golden triangle of asking, giving and thanking. More on that in a moment .. … for now, just go and ask every “on-brand” Facebook friend you have to like the page. They won’t mind.

    Facebook offers you the opportunity to use an email contact list to invite people to the page. If you are running a business and you have a good contact list, don’t do this yet. Wait. It can be your secret weapon when you have something really classy to share, like a competition or event. Save that until later, because your contacts surely don’t want you to spam with email…

     

    Step 5: Plan a blend of first content

    It is my opinion that your Facebook content should be a nice blend of visual, text, video, short and long comments. I also think that you should not be “saying” the same thing all the time.

    This is particularly important for people who are selling products – don’t just keep pushing your product. Go for a blend of 70:20:10…

    • Make 70% of your posts about the brand – if you are selling shoes that are about “outdoor adventure”, “fresh air” and “fun” post things about “outdoor adventure”, “fresh air” and “fun” – who cares if it mentions shoes or not? Your fans will make the connection…
    • Make only 20% of your posts about your products. This way people won’t find you too pushy.
    • Include 10% of more personal or employee related stuff. Its OK to say you are celebrating someone’s birthday in the office today. Its important that there are faces behind the product.

     

    Step 6: Think about when and where you will publish things

    There are good moments and bad moments to publish content to Facebook. And you also need to consider the workload. My advice?

    • Follow these guidelines from Mashable about when Facebook users are most active
    • Don’t forget that what you publish will disappear from people’s timeline at a rate that is relative to the number of active friends they have. This is the half-life principle. So you will need to find the fine line between repetition of your posts and spamming people.
    • Plan your posts in advance. Do this once a week, thinking about what you will publish and when. This is a good practice to maintain a good blend. It’s also more efficient in the long-run.
    • If you are posting for multiple time-zones, don’t leave out people. For my professional Twitter account, I am posting for Europe and the US, so things are still going on until about midnight.
    • Try using a “hub” like HootSuite to schedule posts in advance.
    • Cross-pollinate your posts. Add a Facebook button to your website and link people to your Facebook page via other social media like Twitter or LinkedIn.

     

    Step 7: Back to that golden triangle principle… 

    As you start up your page, it will be important to really ask, give and thank in order to create engagement. Since different people are engaged in different ways on social-media platforms, its important to work on this. I’ve been a bit short on giving in my start up, but I have done a few of these:

    • Identify people in your network who have lots of friends and ask them to share the page. Be precise in your request, eg “Can you please share my last video from my Dan Steer Music page and ask your Facebook friends to like the page or share the film themselves?”
    • If anybody likes or comments on any of your posts, you must thank them. Do this with a comment and mention/tag their name when you do so.
    • If someone likes your page, send them a message and make the same request outlined above.
    • If someone shares you page, like their share.

     

    These actions should become religious as you manage your page. If people don’t feel engaged, they won’t bother coming back.

     

    Step 8: Measure things and adapt your activity

    After 3 days of activity, here are my results:

    • 35 page likes
    • ..of which 29 come from my own circle of Facebook friends (I’m SO happy about the 17% of strangers ! )
    • My first song video was liked 7 times
    • ..and shared 19 times
    • .. and seen by 363 people
    • My second post (a text link to another site with a few songs on) remains un-liked, has been seen by 17 people and shared once

     

    The point of measuring is to see what works. I’m not going to make any assumptions just yet (its too early) but after a while, it will be important to assess:

    • What moments work best for your posts?
    • What kind of posts get the most interaction (likes, shares, comments)?
    • Which posts drive the most traffic to your website, sell the most products, improve your SERP ratings etc…
    • Who is sharing your content and who is not?

     

    At the moment, I don’t have enough likes on my music page to correctly view Facebook “Insights”, but that tool is incredibly useful. Here’s an overview of what you can learn from “Insights” about which post-types work best.

     

    Step 9: Don’t give up!

    If you’ve done all this and you are satisfied with the results, keep going and consider some of these ideas to promote your page (for free):

    • Mention it in your email signature
    • Use that email contact list for a “big push”
    • Cross-pollinate on other platforms and in the real world. For example, if you have a shop, put your Facebook address on the receipts. If you have a Twitter account, mention the page in your profile…
    • Run a competition, where the winner is the one who gets the most likes for something posted to your page
    • Talk about your page

     

    I hope this page was interesting and you can find some good ideas for your own page creation and maintenance. I am going to keep experimenting and hope to come back in a few months with a more indepth set of tips on what really works and what doesn’t after the initial set-up.

    I won’t ask you again to like my page.

    Honest.

     

    Thanks for reading,

    @dan_steer

     

     

     

    9 competences you need in your workforce today and tomorrow

    If you are looking to hire someone to join your company or to develop existing people who will regularly bring added-value (in the long-term), you need to think about more than technical or functional skills. In my opinion, the 9 following competences are absolutely key to sustainable success in today and tomorrow’s business environment…

     

    THE CONSTANT LEARNER

    It has been said for decades that the only constant is change. Clearly that hasn’t changed. If we cannot be sure about what tomorrow looks like, then the following three competences are important:

    • Open-mindedness is the ability to receive and treat new information without overbearing prejudice. Many of us spend the majority of our waking lives on autopilot, doing things just like we did yesterday, set in our ways and thoughts. Open-minded people are able to put their own convictions on hold and see things differently in order to deal with new ideas. They are conscious of their own habits and convictions, they listen well and they tend not to mix up their own perception with reality.
    • Self-learning is the ability to define, follow-up, deliver and evaluate learning goals in an autonomous way. Today’s workers must be able to acquire and assimilate knowledge, learn new skills and question their own attitude without the necessary intervention of a learning department or teacher. Specific skills here include goal-setting, self-coaching and identifying infinite learning opportunities.
    • Problem-solving skills and scientific reasoning are required in order to figure things out where no answer currently exists. Workers must have the ability to correctly assess and define a problem. They must have a minimum of business acumen and creativity to propose multiple hypotheses and a sufficient scientific process to create “experiments” that will allow them to isolate, test and understand problem causes and potential solutions.

     

    FUNCTIONING WELL IN TODAY’S UBER-SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

    In today’s working environment (the “New World of Work”) the possibilities are endless. We can gather and share information from and to everywhere in a click. We have unprecedented access to other people. We are mobile within markets and across functional and geographical lines. The following three competences are all about getting and giving the best in that environment:

    • Personal Knowledge Management is a collection of processes that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities. Faced with the enormous noise of information coming in from everywhere in multiple formats, today’s workers need to be able to make sense of it all and put the noise to effective use for herself and others, today and in the future.
    • Networking skills allow workers to effectively analyse, evaluate and improve their own networks in order to receive and give more value. With a clear long-term mission and good social skills, effective networkers can assess, create and maintain well-functioning networks. They know the right people (who know the right people..) and can establish trusting useful contacts over a variety of face-to-face and virtual platforms in order to achieve their goals.
    • Commercial communication and personal branding. As businesses become more “intrapreneurial” and workers get involved in more cross-functional, multinational projects, the ability to understand the situation, values and needs of other people and position oneself and one’s work “commercially” in terms of benefits is key to being accepted and being useful. No-one can sit back and say that “sales” is for someone else. As Daniel Pink has said, to sell is human and we’re all doing it, whether we know it or not. The product/service branding approach of matching key messages to target audiences can today be equally well applied to individuals – effective personal branding helps other people to see your own value more easily.

     

    BRINGING VALUE TO THE BUSINESS

    A constant learner who is able to function well in an uber-social environment is not worth anything if he doesn’t really understand how business is happening and what can be done to achieve goals. He needs three additional competences:

    • Business acumen or business intelligence is the first foundation for adding value to an organisation. In the past, only the management needed to worry about the universal drivers of cash, profit, growth, people and assets; everyone else could “just” focus on his job. But as environments, people, projects and processes change rapidly, there is more need for workers who truly understand their own work and how it influences the bottom-line and delivers on company strategy. If you don’t understand the core factors that make your business successful, you will not be able to identify opportunities, solve problems or articulate solutions that bring any value.
    • Strategic thinking is the ability to identify priorities based on current position in relationship to the end-goal. Technical or tactical experts tend to have a good grasp on which is the best way to achieve a certain action, but strategic thinkers more easily identify those actual actions which really need to be taken at this time. Although top-management may be responsible for defining the company strategy, each individual needs himself to be able to regularly and effectively assess their own position (in terms of S/W/O/T etc..) and look for recurring themes and priorities. In this way, they can strategically choose relevant action and next concrete steps.
    • Proactivity is the ability to stop, think and choose, rather than simply reacting to circumstance. A close-cousin of both strategic-thinking, open-mindedness and problem-solving ability, proactivity requires self-knowledge and a specific attitude, in addition to specific knowledge of the environment and mission. Faced with unacceptable results, the proactively-reactive person will assess the situation and processes/programs in order to create change which he or she believes he can orchestrate. And the truly proactive person will “in advance” take the initiative to assess risks to the mission and think about how to do things differently and how to have a maximum impact.

     

    Read also:

     

     

    Follow me on Twitter

    Leave a comment

    Subscribe to this blog

     

     

    The consultant you want to hire

    One day, a client told his consultant: “I have a problem. Can you help?”

    The consultant replied: “If you want to discuss new solutions, please call me Resource Manager, Pierre.”

     

    The next day, the client repeated his question to a competing consultant, working on the same project.

    This consultant replied: “Is it about Java?” and when the client said “No”, the conversation slowly died.

     

    On day 3, the frustrated client spoke with another consultant, again from a competing firm: “I have a problem. Can you help?”

    Exercising beautiful active empathy skills, the consultant found out exactly what the client needed.

    Unfortunately, this wasn’t a problem he could solve.

     

    On day 4, the client met the consultant he had been waiting for. Having successfully understood the problem, but out of his own area of expertise, this consultant took the issue away and into his wider network. His colleagues were able to take the ball and run with it. A few weeks later, he went back to his client to see how things had progressed. Client happy.

     

     

    Are you the consultant we have been waiting for?