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

 

 

Curated life

One of my favorite curated posts is published on Friday afternoons: Nieman Journalism Lab’s Week in Review. Last week it covered online and offline verification in Boston’s wake, an underdog’s Pulitzer win, Medium and Matter, journalism education and more.

Digital life

A GigaOm conference about digital media, paidContent Live (#pclive), took place last week in New York. Here’s the cool thing, they’ve put the session transcripts and videos on their website. Ernie Smith from Associations Now believes the association and news industries could learn a lot from each other. I agree. He attended the conference and says it “shone an important light on personalization, risk, innovation, and diversity—things your association should know a thing or two about.”

“The most interesting discussion of the day took place between two of the leading minds behind the personalized news movement.” Ernie’s talking about the founders of Prismatic and Zite. The video and summary of that session, The Impact of Personalization and Algorithms on the Attention Economy, is on the paidContent site. Another session that caught my eye was a panel of five startup founders who are “changing the way the news business delivers content.”

After seeing online comments about who should or shouldn’t be tweeting during a breaking news story, Geoff Livingston writes about the devolving online civility situation, social media vigilantes and respect. Geoff says, “The general state of online conversation continues to devolve into a snarky, nasty tar pit, in turn impacting the outside world by destroying real relationships.” And there’s data to prove it. I admit I’ve slipped into vigilante mode in the past when I saw people using the #assnchat hashtag for tweets that had no value to the association community. It’s a strange territorial, I-know-better-than-you kneejerk reaction, I’m guessing.

Financial life

Between 1990 and 2010, builders met the Boomer demand for big, large-lot single-family homes. Later this decade, the “great senior sell-off” will begin as Boomers downsize. But will there be enough market demand for these over-sized homes? Nope, says Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. He told Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities, that the next housing crisis will be in 2020. So sell that monster house while you still can!

Spiritual life

I love going into artist cooperatives, like the one I recently visited in Manitou Springs, Colorado, Commonwheel Artists Co-op. I haven’t bought any art in the last few years, but that will change soon. Felix Salmon reminded me of that visit in his article about artists who are moving away from the gallery-driven narrative of art-as-investment, and instead “are selling art to consumers who enjoy it, without making a big deal about how unique it is or how much it might rise in value.” Seriously, how many of us buy art for its investment value? We buy it because we want to live with it.

Have you ever walked into a museum or cathedral and seen such a work of great beauty and power that the experience felt religious? One of those hair-on-your-arms-rising or eyes-watering moments? Thanks to Kaya Oakes, I had that moment listening to Andreas Scholl sing Bach’s Agnus Dei. Click on the link she provides while reading her beautiful article, Searching for Bach.

Good-to-know quickies

  • A new app, Lively, is an activity-sharing platform that keep tabs on your independently living and aging relatives. (Michael Seo, TechCrunch)
  • When presenting data, get to the point fast with better visuals. (Nancy Duarte, Harvard Business Review)
  • How to embed part of a YouTube video. (Amit Agarwal, Digital Inspiration)
  • Make your trade show swag more useful and it will spark conversation. (WordofMouth.org)

I fell asleep last night with this song in my head – and it will soon be in your head – thanks to retweets from Jess Commins and Andrew Norcross of an advertisement spotted by Edward Mayes. Mama mia, that’s good.

Happy Friday!

best copy of the week

Brilliance

 

 

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

Friday, already?!

Time to get it done and get to the weekend. I’ve got your leisure time reading selections all ready for you.

Curated Post of the Week

No surprise, I love curated posts. The Verge publishes The Best Writing of the Week on Sundays. It usually introduces me to well-written posts that I might have missed during the week, usually about the intersection of life and technology.

Reads of the Week

While we’re on the topic of content curation, over at Top Rank, Brian Larson recommends using content curation to grow your company (or association) beyond being a me-me-me brand. Why? He points to the results of a study conducted by Jay Baer: “Brands that posted curated content linking to 3rd party sites experienced a 33% increase in clicks vs. those with original content linking back to their own site.” Follow his steps to diagnose and cure your me-me-me syndrome.

Gina Dietrich has business owner’s disease. You know it. You help clients with their problems and challenges, while neglecting the same issues with your own business. She says, “I’m calling baloney on myself.” Take a look at her website checklist. I bet a lot of these items could use fixing on your website. And mine. But first, I really should graduate from this baby blog to a big girl blog, but not until I get to the “Later” section of my to-do list.

“As we move towards a quantified society, one shaped by data, we start to dismiss things that are unquantified. Empathy, emotion and storytelling — these are as much a part of business as they are of life.” Om Malik says companies aren’t using their data in the most powerful way – to shape the user’s or customer’s experience. I’m glad I clicked on this. Normally, a post about data wouldn’t appeal to me, but there’s a lot to think about in this one.

Sarah Lacy, the founder of Pando Daily, takes a look at the media landscape now that the last major newspaper hold-outs are going over to the paywall side and the big digital players say the only way to survive is to produce “shit quality” content. She says, “I refuse to accept a reality where users can’t expect and demand quality.” She’s hopeful about the future, as am I. People are too creative and innovative to not make it work.

Someone who’s making it work in his own unique way is Shane Smith, publisher of Vice. Yes, the same Vice that sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea. “I wanted to build the next CNN, the next ESPN. And I also realized that, given the digital revolution, that is not only within my grasp, but I am a frontrunner to get there.” Tim Adams at The Observer has the scoop on this growing media brand that Rupert Murdoch described on Twitter as: “Wild, interesting effort to interest millennials who don’t read or watch established media. Global success.”

Speaking of millennials, another publication that’s getting their attention is Mental Floss. One of Mental Floss’ co-founders, William Pearson, spoke recently at a publishing summit about the brand’s growth. Saya Weissman of Digiday was there to capture four reasons Mental Floss attracts and retains a millennial audience. If you publish content, these four take-aways are for you.

Must investors be on Twitter?” asks Felix Salmon at Reuters. You could ask that same question about a lot of professions. He says, “If you’re an investor who wants to avoid being blindsided by something huge you were utterly unaware of, Twitter is a great tool for minimizing that risk.” It’s a fascinating read about the impact social media is making on an information-dependent industry.

Lightning Round

  • NBC News correspondent, Richard Engel, writes about his kidnapping. (Vanity Fair)

Happy Friday!

best read this week about the French and wine

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski (CC license)

 

 

This is no ordinary Friday. Tonight we’re driving two hours to Greensboro to see two old flames from my childhood – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. The remains of The Who is on tour doing Quadrophenia, the album that started my love affair with them. And anyone who knew me in high school, college or beyond knows how crazy I was about that band. I expect to be ridiculously excited and emotional for a few hours. Long live rock!

Is one of your employees a social media rock star? Alexandra Samuel writes at the Wall Street Journal about the “newest management headache: the co-branded employee.” These employees show up to work with a public identity (personal brand) and huge following of their own. How do you make it work for both of you? She advises establishing guidelines and expectations. I think it also helps if management is knowledgeable about the digital world so they don’t have unreasonable expectations.

Not another Lance Armstrong story! Yes, but this story by Mathew Ingram at GigaOm is really about “the democratization of content.” He references an excellent David Carr article in the New York Times to discuss an example of “disruption in journalism.” Except for a few bold voices, traditional journalists accepted Armstrong’s victories and joined in the adulation. Even when suspicions were raised, they didn’t push the matter. But bloggers did. “Amateur or citizen journalists using Twitter and little-known cycling blogs as their platform were the ones who were the most responsible for bringing the story to light.” I follow these “citizens” on Twitter and can vouch that they’ve been writing about Armstrong’s deceit for years.

John Hagel wrote about The Paradox of Preparing for Change – maybe Armstrong should read this. “I love paradox. Here’s an example: the best way to prepare for change is to decide what isn’t going to change.”A childhood full of change – moving nearly every year to a new country – taught him how to prepare for change. He says, “Decide what isn’t going to change, especially in three key domains: principles, purpose and people.” His advice works for organizations too, not just little kids following their dad around the world.

Have I already mentioned how much I love ASAE’s redesigned, heck, reborn, Associations Now website? It’s a magazine, a blog, original content, curated content, news — it’s fantastic. Andrew Hannelly at TMG Custom Media – the company behind the new website – shared “the strategic framework guiding the launch.”

In Associations Now, Joe Rominiecki discussed a basic yet rare association practice – sharing what you know about members. Imagine if everyone on staff could benefit and learn from conversations with members. Wouldn’t capturing and sharing that knowledge lead to better practices and programs?

Finally, here are two stories from our correspondents in the future. Neal Ungerleider at Fast Company asks, “Could your company’s IT department or dev team soon be drafted as digital soldiers in an ongoing cyberwar?” I’ve often wondered how the federal government would cope with cyberterrorism or cyberwarfare on their own. If our technical or physical infrastructure is threatened, wouldn’t they want the best minds in the country working on the problem? Wouldn’t we all want that?

And in the scary-because-it’s-too-believable department, imagine terrorists or evil empires hacking DNA to create and deliver personal bioweapons. Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman and Steven Kotler at The Atlantic start their article with a story that will give you the creeps, and, what’s worse, they show how that scenario isn’t so far-fetched. “We are entering a world where imagination is the only brake on biology, where dedicated individuals can create new life from scratch. Today, when a difficult problem is mentioned, a commonly heard refrain is There’s an app for that. Sooner than you might believe, an app will be replaced by an organism when we think about the solutions to many problems.”

But don’t worry about any of that right now, it’s Friday, cheers!

My college art project, a drawing of Pete — told you I was crazy about them.

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