For many years now, Mitch Joel, president of marketing agency Twist Image, has been manning the lookout post for the rest of us. His blog, Six Pixels of Separation, is a constant in my RSS feed and his podcast is a regular on my phone. Mitch dedicates each podcast to a conversation with someone interesting from marketing, media or another connected world. If you speak at conferences, you’ll like his recent shows with Nick Morgan and Nancy Duarte.

Mitch was a keynote speaker at the recent digitalNow conference in Nashville. In his keynote, as in his book, Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It, he described five massive movements that have changed how we interact with organizations. Unfortunately, many organizations, including associations, haven’t done much to change how they interact with us.

The power of direct relationships

The battle for direct relationships with your members involves everyone else who offers value to them, including your vendor members, media, consumer brands, thought-leaders and others on their screens. Mitch introduced us to someone who might change how we think about connecting with members. Bethany Mota is a teenage video star who shares her shopping “hauls” with 2-3 million fans every day. She’s successful because she knows her community and gives them what they want. Traditional media can’t even compete.

Do you have a Bethany Mota? Partner with people who know how to connect and communicate with your audience — people who can create direct relationships with them and give them what they want. These people may be on your staff or in your membership, but most likely they’re not. You’ll have to create new relationships (and new budget lines) to get them on your team. But you want them on your team.

disruptions facing associations

Mitch Joel at digitalNow 2014 in Nashville
(photo by Bill Sheridan)

Sex with data

Don’t be standoffish. Get cozy and intimate with your data. You can now capture two types of data:

  • Linear data – transactions, searches, email open rates and clicks.
  • Circular data – the social data we willingly put online that paints a picture of our behavior, interests and needs.

The magic begins when you put both types of data together for a deeper understanding of your members and a more personalized experience for them.

Amazon is the personalization king with their website recommendations and their PriceCheck app which tells you how much the product you’re looking at in a store will cost on Amazon. In the process, they’re learning more about you – your location, interests and shopping habits. In return for your data, they provide a better shopping experience. Check out what the Project Management Institute is doing for their members and website visitors. You don’t need an Amazon budget to do that.

Utility or death

Mitch said today’s prime real estate is the smartphone screen. “What are you doing that makes you valuable enough to be on your member’s home screen?” Members don’t really care about you and your promotions, but the old “what’s in it for me” is one marketing cliché that remains relevant today.

Successful for-profit online communities like Doximity for doctors and ResearchGate for scientists focus first on creating utility – tools and services that help their members do their jobs more effectively. That’s why these hugely successful communities have attracted millions in venture capital and millions of members.

Passive vs. active

Know when to make the distinction between passive and active media, and when a member is passive or active online. Press releases don’t belong on Facebook. Members don’t want to be hounded to like or +1 everything they read on your website.

But members do want the opportunity to be active when they’re online in a way that provides value to them. Give them regular opportunities to provide feedback, share an opinion or idea, help make a decision, or participate in a discussion.

One-screen world

No wonder we’re all distracted. Think about how many screens we have going at times: our phone, tablet, laptop and TV. And the Internet of things may bring even more. Yet, we can only watch one thing at a time. The screen in front of us is the only screen that matters. And soon perhaps all these screens will integrate into one screen.

He closed his keynote with a hopeful message: associations are pioneers who will decide how the future of associations will look. Will your association have a cozy relationship with your member in the one-screen world? Come on out of purgatory and into the light where you’ll find plenty of opportunity for those who can keep up and move onward.

disruptions to associations - fade away or become a pioneer

Emigrants Crossing the Plains (or The Oregon Trail), Albert Bierstadt, 1869, courtesy of the Butler Institute of American Art

 

 

We attend conferences so we can deepen our knowledge and relationships. Hopefully we’ll also get recharged and inspired too but that doesn’t always happen. I was fortunate enough to come away from the 2014 digitalNow conference in Nashville both recharged and inspired thanks to being surrounded by smart people, good friends, savvy conference organizers and the very cool city of Nashville.

After a bountiful breakfast from the talented kitchen at the Omni Nashville, digitalNow attendees entered the theater at the adjoining Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to await the conference welcome. I was expecting to see Hugh Lee and Don Dea of Fusion Productions, the brains behind digitalNow, walk on stage but instead the theater lights dimmed and I heard the opening chords of a familiar song. A spotlight shone on Nashville residents Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick playing a little something they wrote for Eric Clapton, Change the World.

Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick opening digitalNow 2014 (photo by Bill Sheridan)

Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick opening digitalNow 2014
(photo by Bill Sheridan)

…if I could change the world…

digitalNow’s opening keynote speaker, Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise, is changing the world, one pencil, one school and one child at a time. By the time Adam turned 25, he had already been a Wall Street child prodigy, Brown University graduate, shipwreck survivor and world traveler.

During his travels, he asked a child who was begging in the streets of India, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” The little boy answered, “A pencil.”

The average pencil holds 45,000 words, Adam said. It provides access to self-education and unlocks a child’s curiosity and imagination. Adam started handing out thousands of pencils in his backpacking trips across six continents. Now, his organization, Pencils of Promise, builds schools (200 so far!), trains teachers and provides scholarships to students.

Adam shared several lessons he learned along the way – lessons that apply to both people and organizations.

We are not in the non-profit business. We’re in the for-purpose business. Adam hates the term “non-profit.” He believes “non-profit” is a negative term that doesn’t define our work and strips our organizations of their value. Pencils of Promise is “100% for purpose.” We all know that “non-profit” is merely a tax status, but I wonder how many organizations excite their community with their purpose.

When your members think about your association, do they only think about the products and services you offer, or do they think about being a part of a movement that is changing the world?

Nothing is more powerful than discovering purpose. Adam shared the journey that led him to discovering his purpose. Purpose, not possessions, gives life meaning. However, many of us are so busy living our ordinary lives that we don’t think about purpose. How can associations help members find and live lives of purpose?

True self-discovery is on the edge of your comfort zone. If your dreams do not scare you, then they’re not big enough. When you have big goals and do scary things, you end up becoming a much more grounded and happy person.

I can vouch for that even though I figured it out much later in life than Adam. Although I have very risk-averse genes, I moved across country twice, started my own business, climbed Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and, most recently, climbed over exposed slickrock domes, chimneyed in a slot canyon and rappelled down cliffs in Capitol Reef National Park.

I don’t list these experiences to brag. That’s not my motivation — although I do admit to still bragging about Angel’s Landing since I gave myself a 30% chance of doing it. I want to encourage you to go for the gusto. Prepare yourself and do it, whatever “it” is. Even if it makes you very uneasy. You’ll be a changed person once you stretch your comfort zone and overcome your fear.

Associations are on the edge of their comfort zone right now dealing with new ways of associating, learning and communicating, new technology, new competition, and new expectations. This is also a time of new opportunity. Associations who push through their fear will become stronger and better positioned to be agents of transformation for their members.

Angel's Landing - don't look down! (photo by Dale Beckett/Flickr CC license)

Hiking back from Angel’s Landing – don’t look down!
(photo by Dale Beckett/Flickr CC license)

The quality, not quantity, of an engaged and loyal following is key. It’s not about converting the masses; it’s about finding the one person in the room whose eyes light up. Adam told the story of one of their “torchbearers,” Chelsea, the only person who showed up at one of their meetings. She became a huge supporter and organizer. Are you paying attention to the people in your community whose eyes light up when talking about your mission? Not just the usual suspects but those on the periphery?

Take advantage of the belief people have that they can change the world. I wonder, do GenX and Boomers still believe they can change the world? I know some of us do. The members on your board better believe it too.

Thankfully, Millennials believe they can change the world. And Adam calls the generation after the Millennials, “Generation Why Not.” If younger people don’t see your association as a community where they can make contributions and create change, they’ll find another where they can.

Build a movement and mobilize people by making them the heroes of the journey. Stop talking about the association and start talking about the work your members and volunteers do – how they are creating (or can create) something bigger than themselves.

Find ways to make people feel like important members of a purposeful community. Adam gave business cards to early supporters of Pencils of Purpose. They built a digital platform where torchbearers can tell their own stories. They tag contributors’ name on social media platforms to show them (and their friends) what they’re creating.

Speak the language of the person you want to become — your future aspirational self. Use the language of self-realization, for example, instead of saying, “We’re hoping to build a school,” say, “We’re building a school.” Guess what happens? People will think of you in those aspirational terms and connect you with those who can help you do it. Say it and make it so.

Do you want to help change the world? Together, we are building a classroom for kids who never imagined they would sit in one. We’ll give little girls and boys the chance to unleash their minds and escape the worst kind of poverty. Visit http://www.thedigitalnowpromise.com and contribute what you can to digitalNow’s team fundraising page for Pencils for Promise.

Pencils of Promise's first students - click to watch the adorable 40-second video on YouTube.

Pencils of Promise’s first students – click to watch the adorable 40-second video on YouTube.

Here’s a post I wrote for MemberViews Monday, a collaboration of bloggers in the association world who have teamed up to share their experiences and knowledge with other association professionals. The first topic in this series hosted by MultiView blogs is Advice for the Emerging Association Professional.

I never expected to work in associations. Frankly, they weren’t even on my radar. But I was leaving one career and in search of another. I took an association job just to have some stability and income while I figured things out. Little did I know, back in 1999, what a rewarding and fascinating profession I was about to enter.

Looking back, I wish I had asked for advice. It took me several years to find my way. If we were to have a “learn from my mistakes” conversation, it would go something like this.

Never stop learning. You will succeed in this profession if you live to learn. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Don’t shortchange yourself. Make time for learning even if it’s on your own time. Your older self will thank you.

Be observant. Listen to and watch people. You have to understand human behavior, both individual and group, if you want to motivate, manage and lead staff and members.

Give yourself time to think. You need time every week to plan ahead, set and review goals, and let your brain work its way around challenges and issues. 

Develop a DIY professional development habit. Set aside time to read association management blogs and publications, participate in Twitter’s #assnchat (Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. Eastern), and attend association events. If your boss doesn’t give you the time or budget to do these things, do it on your own time. Put aside a small amount of every paycheck, even if it’s only $10, toward professional development. It’s an investment in your future, just like your 401K.

Join your state SAE even if you have to spend your own money. You’ll meet a network of peers that could become lifelong friends.

Look for mentors. Find people in your office or at another association who are active in your SAE or ASAE. They might not consider themselves mentor material so don’t even use the word “mentor” around them. A conversation with them could develop into a mutually satisfying relationship.

Find association peers. If you’re surrounded by colleagues who are only there for the paycheck, don’t be discouraged. Don’t follow them down their boring, soul-deadening path. Find people either in your office or other associations who are around your same age and career level. Twitter makes this so much easier now. Arrange monthly meet-ups. Make them your mastermind group.

Make friends all over the building. Avoid eating lunch alone. Don’t isolate yourself in a departmental silo. Learn about the work your colleagues are doing. How can you help them? How can they help you? What member stories can you share? What can you teach each other?

Pause and reflect before reacting. Expect stressful times. You might start the day expecting to work on specific tasks and projects, but find yourself dealing with other pressing problems, issues and people that weren’t on your list. You will constantly juggle a variety of deadlines and demands.

It’s natural to react quickly and emotionally to these stressors – those same reactions save us in life and death situations. But in the workplace, you must develop the habit of pausing before reacting, and thinking rationally, not emotionally. It’s not easy. Yoga helps, but I don’t expect you to practice yoga as a professional development tool – although it’s not a bad idea.

Become aware of your reactions to your own behavior (self-judging), other people’s behavior, stressful situations and change. If you learn to pause and reflect before reacting, you won’t stress yourself out so much and you’ll be a positive influence on the people around you. 

Don’t be a workaholic. Never put in crazy hours because you think you should, except, of course, for those special times in the meeting, magazine or budget cycle that require it. You and your brain need time off to recharge. You know the people who are always boasting about how busy they are and how late they stayed in the office? They’re not paragons of virtue to emulate. They’re doing it wrong — “it” being life.

Never be defined by your job. If you develop that limited mindset, retirement will be rough. Yes, your job is a huge, rewarding part of your life, but it’s just one part of your life. Make sure it doesn’t get in the way of the relationships and experiences that add color and passion to life. Find people, causes and hobbies to love. You’ll be a happier and more interesting, creative person and professional.

Advice for emerging association professionals

Photo by Andre Mouraux (Flickr CC license)

Reads of the Week was on vacation last week while I was at digitalNOW in Orlando, which means it’s a long one this week. Again.

In years past, I’ve been envious reading the digitalNOW tweets and watching the keynote webcasts. Since I’m not an association executive, I felt very fortunate to attend this year. Without a doubt, it’s the best association conference I’ve attended. If you’re an association executive, put it on your radar.

To give you a taste, here are a few digitalNOW posts and resources. I’ll share more next week.

Conference season rolls on. Now that the Avectra Users & Developers Conference, ASAE Great Ideas and digitalNOW are behind me, the only one left, for now, is Digital Marketing for Business on Monday and Tuesday at the Raleigh Convention Center. It does not at all surprise me that a conference organized by Phil Buckley is the first result when you google “digital marketing for business.” All hail the SEO master!

If you’re in the nonprofit space, I probably don’t need to tell you about the NTEN conference that started Thursday. You can attend online or follow along on #13ntc until it ends Saturday.

My sources tell me…

Each week I’m revealing one of my many sources for good reads. Denise Graveline’s regular Friday post, The Weekend Read, on her Don’t Get Caught blog is one of my favorites. One of my good reads this week is also from Denise — Tweeting About Food, and Why It’s Smarter Than You Think. She tells you why and when it’s okay to tweet about food. So there!

Let’s talk about it

Chris Bonney at Vanguard Technology shares a list of questions associations should ask about their website. Gather some colleagues, grab some lunch and go over these questions so you can “help your association shake loose from old beliefs about your association website and start thinking about it not as a part of organization, but as your organization itself.”

Now, the reads of the week

I am not a robot. But, I may be replaceable, or at least that was my fear when I read Mitch Joel’s post about a ‘Robo-reporter’ computer program that writes newspaper articles. But then he reassured me:

“The true power in this is not how computers, algorithms and robots can now replace human writers. The true power is in how computers, algorithms and robots can now free up these human writers to do the more important work that our society requires of them.”

Phew.

You can do something a robot can’t do: convince your C-suite that your organization needs to develop and implement a content strategy. And, if you have Hilary Marsh’s presentation in hand, good money says you’ll succeed.

“The algorithm will likely replace the editor and curator.” Algorithms, again! One day, I’ll wonder how I ever got along without them. Roger Wood and Evelyn Robbrecht wrote a fascinating article about Intelligent Content at paidContent. “Written and visual content will eventually be continuously reconfigured and redesigned by the moment to accommodate data gathered about what you like to read.” That’s fine and all, but I don’t want to live in a content bubble. Hopefully I’ll always have the random serendipity of Twitter.

Where I get cranky

Stop using so many damn hashtags! “When kept to a small scale, they can ably perform their service as a filter of relevant tweets” – like my beloved #assnchat. But, Daniel Victor at Nieman Journalism Lab says:

“I believe for every person who stumbles upon your tweet via hashtag, you’re likely turning off many more who are put off by hashtag overuse. We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”

Wise up, tweeps! Nonprofit Tech 2.0 identifies five types of tweets you should never post. Note number 3, please. Seriously, these are all obnoxious.

Quickies

  • Cute kitten videos are all that stand between us and the cyber-apocalypse. (The Verge)
  • Study says…blogs are still more influential than Twitter. Of course they are. (The Wall)
  • Turn your Google Analytics into an infographic with Visual.ly. (SocialTimes)
  • Note to self: the next time you’re tempted to use the word awesome… (Instead of Awesome)
  • Become a masterful note-taker. (The Atlantic)
  • Make sure you’re legally using online photos. (Lifehacker)
  • Four questions to ask before you send that press release. (Ragan’s PR Daily)

Read a poem

Thank you, Jeff Cobb, for tweeting the link to this inspiring post, Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in School. It reminded me that it’s been way too long since I sat with a poem. I’m making a date this weekend for some time on the couch with a poet. Hmm, now who should it be?

Feed your neighbors

There’s a really good reason to visit Facebook every single day, at least until the end of April. Walmart is providing $3 million in grants for hunger relief programs – that’s means 35,000,000 (yes, million) meals — for food banks across the country. You can vote once a day for your local food bank on Walmart’s Facebook page. I’ll be voting, of course, for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Happy Friday!

vote for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

Have you ever seen one of these?

association maker culture

UCF’s 3D printer at digitalNow

That’s a 3D printer from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training METIL Lab. David Metcalf and two of his students brought it to digitalNow for The “Maker Society,” their session with Jenny Levine, Strategy Guide at the American Library Association. 

Jenny made it clear up front: “Your association does not need a 3D printer.” Instead she focused on the maker culture and what it means for associations.

These articles will give you a better understanding of the maker culture:

Who’s a maker? Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE, defines a maker as:

“Someone who is a builder, a creator, a producer, a developer, someone who has an active sense of taking an idea and developing it into something that’s real and tangible and can be shared with other people.”

Sounds like an association leader to me.

The Maker Generation

A generation of makers is coming of age — our future members. How do we become organizations they want (and need) in their lives?

Librarians, as usual, are ahead of the game. At work, they’re creating maker spaces for kids and adults. At the American Library Association (ALA), they’re experimenting with new approaches to membership issues. Like many associations, the ALA has seen a decline in volunteerism. Fewer members are willing to commit to time-intensive volunteer roles. So what can an association do? Jenny  appeals to the maker in her members.

  • Listen to member conversations. What are they talking about? What inspires their passion? Jenny monitors an unofficial group of 3000 members and non-members on Facebook – the ALA Think Tank. She looks for short-term project ideas that she can help facilitate.
  • Create new pathways to bring members into association involvement. In addition to the traditional, time-intensive style of volunteer service, offer project-based entry points that require less of a time commitment.
  • Nurture the maker ethos – “let’s just do it” – by providing support or, at least, encouragement to member-organized projects.

One of the UCF students mentioned how fun it is to get a maker community going. The community was already there, UCF only needed to give it resources and get out of the way. You have communities of members who are passionate about different issues or causes. Find them and listen to them. What types of projects would give them a sense of satisfaction while also staying aligned with the association’s mission?

Maker governance

When Jenny looks for projects, one of her criteria is purpose. David Metcalf looks for passion about a social mission. The motivation behind these projects is a yearning to create or accomplish something. That’s such a powerful desire – the drive to create – yet how often do associations satisfy it?

After the session, I wondered: What will happen to the traditional association governance model? Is the next generation of members willing to put in time serving on committee after committee in hopes of getting a board position and then, maybe one day, being nominated for an officer position? Is that a desirable path? Is that how they want to serve? Is that how they envision an association experience?

Will this generation of makers be willing to deal with the slow-moving engines of association governance? Does “let’s just do it” work in the association world? Can we find ways to let people get together and make “things” that help their fellow members, attendees, profession/industry or community? 

I’m excited about this emerging culture of makers and here’s why. Bob Johansen, author of Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World, says the best leaders are makers:

“All humans have at least a touch of what I call the maker instinct, but most leaders have a serious dose since they must make and remake the organizations they lead. The best leaders have always been tinkerers who imagine alternative structures and love to play around with them to see what new things they can create.”

Why wait for the young ones to start hacking our associations. Let’s figure out how to just do it ourselves.

association maker motto

Photo by NoSoma (Flickr CC)

Every time I see the word media in this post by Jeff Jarvis, I think associations. He talks about media’s business model: “building a pay wall around content because content is valuable, damnit.” And then says,

“I’ve been arguing to media that relationships are more valuable. Knowing people because you have their trust and give them value builds a rich and deep relationship — builds data about that relationship — that can be far more valuable for far longer than a mere transaction. The problem in media is that we are not built for that. We are built to serve the masses.”

He goes on to discuss advertising, paywalls, new models and new thinking. Good stuff.

Ray van Hilst at Vanguard Technology says, “Say NO to stock photography for association websites.” The examples illustrating his post crack me up — no wonder that guy always seemed a bit familiar! If you rely on stock photos, you must read his post. I’ve got to say I was really impressed by the photos my client Avectra uses. I love the photo on the bottom right of their conference website of an Avectra client (Rebecca!) and staffer (he’s wearing purple so I’m assuming he’s an Avectra guy). The photo looks completely natural and shows off their happy geekitude – yes, that’s a compliment.

The buzz on the web this week has been about another company manifesto, employee handbook, “diary of dreams,” this time from HubSpot, and it’s a real good one. For a company like HubSpot, this is also a great marketing piece, even though they don’t say that. We want to do business with companies whose culture we respect and admire. That’s what gets me jazzed about some of my clients, and, hopefully, they get jazzed about me, even though I don’t have a cool manifesto.

Let’s Talk About It

Every now and then, I come across a post that would make an excellent topic for discussion at work, assuming you work at an organization that serves members or customers. Last week, I suggested having a brown bag lunch discussion about Jeffrey Cufaude’s Cultivating Engagement series. This week, a post by Meredith Marie at Sliceworks about Gen Y “hot buttons” and “action cues” would make a fantastic basis for group discussion. What can you do differently to provide value to this younger (huge) crowd? Strangely enough, much of it would work for us older folks too.

Quickies

  • Don’t make the same mistake as Matt Haughey and accidentally send LinkedIn requests to 1,138 contacts. Oh lordy. (Kevin Smith, Business Insider)
  • Are you one of these? Or do you work for one of these? Light fare but fun: The 5 Stereotypical CMOs. (Giselle Abramovich, Digiday)
  • The demise of Google Reader is causing Geoff Livingston to pivot and purge. I love the looks of his reading list.

Curated post of the week

This will be a weekly feature until I run out of favorites. Two weeks ago, I featured Elizabeth Engel’s What I’m Reading series. Mitch Joel’s Six Links Worthy of Your Attention is another one of my favorites. His post is a bit of a conversation between three friends. He says, “I decided that every week or so the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person must see.” Now you know another one of my secret sources for good tweetable reads. More shall be revealed!

I keep thinking I’m due for a sci-fi book, and then I read this post by Annalee Newitz at io9: What Will Human Cultures Be Like in 100 Years. My brother-from-another-mother once predicted that we’d all end up in a group house together, again, when we hit our 80s. Howard Johnson’s would be great!

Happy Friday!

Old Howard Johnson's at Asbury Park, NJ(Photo by mbtrama/Flickr)

Old Howard Johnson’s at Asbury Park, NJ
(Photo by mbtrama/Flickr)

 

I’m not the only one who likes being a content curator. Elizabeth Engel is always an excellent source for interesting reads. Check out her weekly What I’m Reading series.

If your job involves engaging members, customers, constituents, donors or volunteers, you must read this post by Jeffery Cufaude, Cultivating Engagement: What was the Catalyst? He says, “If we want to cultivate relationships that invest people in our community, cause, or organization, we must remain curious about them: how might what I’m learning about you now alter my next interaction with you?” Grab your team, make them read this, and figure out how you’re going to start doing this next week.

Andy Freed captures why I like reading all kinds of things and making odd connections. He was heading to TEDActive (the live Palm Springs simulcast) where he anticipated learning about association management from a dolphin researcher. And why not?

When’s the last time you picked up a phone and called a member you don’t know? I know. I never did it either, except when we were desperately promoting our trade show in the midst of the housing implosion. Eric Lanke has some ideas about the real reasons we don’t pick up the phone.

Barry Feldman wants you to take a hard look at your website after reading his post, 11 Reasons Why Prospects Don’t Convert Into Customers. He gives you the eleven reasons, good advice and a quick checklist at the Convince & Convert blog.

I just LOVE this post about a dying restaurant by Ken Mueller. I can feel for them because for eight years I was the general manager of an independently-owned (and very successful) restaurant, long before the days of social media. But we’ve all seen this story – lots of attention, but a little too late. Let’s all pledge to honor Ken’s words:

“I will continue to support small, independently owned family businesses whenever I can. I will also go out of my way to let them know I appreciate and support them. I will reward them for their humanity by spending my money with them, in hopes that they will be sustainable and profitable.”

Are you texting and using LOL like an old fart? Luckily for me I got tired of LOL long ago. And it’s a good thing because it no longer means what you think it does, if you’re of a certain age. Not my age. And if you’re one to lament the decline of the English language because of texting, fear not. “Anyone who says that text language is chaotic isn’t paying enough attention to the system of rules that users have developed to move real-time conversation into written form,” says Anne Curzan in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At ProBlogger, Thomas Ford explains what you need to know about using free images from the web. His post will help you understand copyright rules, rights and different types of Creative Commons licenses.

Here’s one to bookmark and hope you never have to use. Tia Fisher at Social Media Today shows you what to do if your Twitter account has been hacked.

Steal this idea from Association Media & Publishing: sponsored small group dinner discussions.

Steal this idea too for your next trade show:

vendor twitter game tweet

The only infographic I looked at this week, thanks to Stowe Boyd.

This is conference week for me. I spent Sunday through Tuesday at the Avectra Users & Developers Conference where I wrote a few blog posts:

I got back Wednesday afternoon and today I’m heading to Colorado Springs for the ASAE Great Ideas Conference. Be sure to check out the hashtag #ideas13 if you want to follow along.

Pretty soon we’ll all be Dr. Doolittles. Vince Cerf “envisions an interspecies Internet” where we’ll communicate with animals and aliens.

Happy Friday!

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”
Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

 

Do you have a person in mind when you write marketing or social media copy? Geoff Drake, senior web writer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium (what a cool job!), writes for his imaginary friend Sue. “Get personal with your persona,” he says. “We have a kind of pact, Sue and I. She needs a vicarious experience, and I want to foster a connection with the Aquarium, and our oceans. A day never passes when I don’t try to uphold my end of our little bargain.”

Something else that’s cool about Geoff – he’s a former editor of VeloNews and Bicycling magazines, plus he wrote the book, literally, on Team 7-Eleven, one of our earliest professional cycling teams in the U.S. And that’s my segue into a great post about organizational culture by cycling fan, and my pal, Mary Nations on the Undiscussables blog: Cycles of Silence.

Mary gives her take on Lance Armstrong, the reign of omerta in the professional cycling world and how it all relates to our organizations.

“When a scandal breaks, the news often exposes evidence that undiscussable elephants have been stomping around, leaving squashed, altered bits of reality and stinky piles of consequences that are difficult to clean up. The mess existed all the while, but new publicity puts it on amplified display, under harsh lights, perhaps to a wider audience that is finally drawn to look.”

She asks, “What does this saga mean for you? Are there places where you suspect elephants are creating a mess? If so, are you ready and willing to help generate positive change in the future?” It’s a fascinating read that might make you think differently about cycling and your organization.

For a different perspective on content marketing, check out Giselle Abramovich’s article at Digiday about Patagonia’s Content Machine. “Many brands feel like they are faced with a dilemma: They can either make great content or try to sell products. (Bill) Boland (Patagonia’s digital creative director) doesn’t see it that way. He sees great content and conversations around products as something that naturally occurs, without the need for marketers to be so heavy-handed.”

Well, it happened again, another week, another mention of TMG Media’s Engage blog. I swear there aren’t any kickbacks going on here! We’re obviously sympatico in our interests. This time, Brittany Siminitz shares examples of 20 brands that “don’t typically incite thoughts of colorful, pin-able things,” for example, insurance and financial planning services, and banks. Yet, their creative Pinterest boards prove “that you don’t have to be frilly to make it on Pinterest.”

In The Facebook Flea Market, Tom Webster calls out Facebook ads for what they are: “a junk shop.” He says they’re “a seemingly random miscellany of hastily constructed, poorly targeted and (sometimes) vaguely seedy-looking pitches for things I couldn’t even conceive of clicking on, let alone purchasing.” And he has some advice for the advertisers that should know better and for Facebook – although do they ever listen?

Only Shelly Alcorn would watch Dave Grohl’s new documentary Sound City and come out thinking about membership. Ok, maybe there are other association geeks who might do the same thing. Ok, maybe me. But Shelly is the one who wrote this great post about the beauty and power of the tribe: Membership IS the Value of Membership!

“Yes, associations are changing. Yes, technology is changing. Yes, communications are changing. Yes, we can talk all day long about dues models, governance models, etc., etc., etc. To me, what is not up for debate is the fundamental concept of belonging – the group, the community, the tribe. Maybe it’s free. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s narrowly defined, maybe it’s broadly defined. Maybe we call them associations and maybe we don’t. There is a lot of room in the middle about HOW it manifests, and what role we can or can’t play in facilitating those connections – but the question about WHETHER it manifests or not is just not debatable.”

Sing it, sister!

Do you know Kate? She’s just an ordinary girl with an ordinary family. She might even live in your community. But there’s something you don’t know about her. Share this one with your kids.

Heads up, New Yorkers and others in the tri-state area: The Who and Elvis Costello are playing a benefit concert on February 28 at the Madison Square Garden. It’s your opportunity to see a once-in-a-lifetime show and support a great (and underfunded) cause: Teen Cancer America, Roger Daltrey’s foundation. I’ve seen The Who more than any other band and absolutely LOVED their Quadrophenia show in November. Number two on my most-seen list is, you guessed it, Elvis, a performer and entertainer like no other.

Long live rock! And Happy Friday, everyone!

Roger Daltrey says teens with cancer need a different kind of hospital environment, one where they're not surrounded by kids or older adults.

Roger Daltrey says teens with cancer need a different kind of hospital environment, one where they’re not surrounded by kids or older adults.

 

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