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.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

What a crazy week, I’m trying to get lots of work done before I take time off during the holidays. I must practice what I preach.

Bill Sheridan at the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) interviewed Daniel Pink about his new book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. Bill asked Dan what he thinks is “the most important skill in today’s rapidly changing environment.” His answer: adaptability. Dan said, “You need to be able to change and adapt. I think people have difficulty with that. Dealing with ambiguity has become profoundly important today. Things are just inherently murkier than they ever have been.”

Bill’s post is required reading. Earlier this year I wrote about Generation Flux and one of its defining traits, the ability to learn new skills. It’s a message we must pound into our brains, and apparently it’s a message that Tom Hood, MACPA’s CEO, preaches as well. Bill said he even has a formula for it: L > C. “That is, in order to flourish, your rate of learning must be greater than the rate of change.” Put that on a t-shirt. In the comments, Tom shared a link where you can pre-order Dan Pink’s book and get freebies too. For a preview, check out the six-page introduction.

My other favorite post of the week is by Colleen Dilenschneider. In Social Media: The Every-Department Job in Nonprofit Organizations, she explains how the job of the marketing professional “has evolved from being a single funnel to media outlets streamlining promotional messages on behalf of an organization, to serving as several funnels to different, targeted demographics based on content from several different departments in a manner that achieves an organization’s long-term goals.” That’s why social media is an organization-wide responsibility, not just marketing’s job.

Siv Rauv provides a very helpful (and illustrated) post at Business 2 Community on how to use social media as a customer service tool. You could use this as the basis for a procedures manual. He says, “It is clear businesses can no longer afford to ignore social media as a customer service platform. Ignore it and you might miss out on building solid relationships with customers, lose a customer, or worse, fuel the wrath of an already angry customer. Respond and receive real consumer feedback, improved brand image and loyal customers.” 

I enjoyed Sarah Lacy’s piece on Pando Daily about what Judd Apatow’s kid can teach us about the Twitter generation. “Basically Judd Apatow accepted what most parents should probably accept: Any control over privacy or what your kid consumes is at best illusory.” It’s fascinating to see the types of skills and attitudes younger generations are naturally adopting because of these new digital platforms. Good lessons for all of us.

Whitson Gordon at Lifehacker gets the Public Service award this week for showing us how to fix ten annoying problems with Facebook, Twitter & other social platforms. Something to do over the holidays!

I’d like to say I’ve been a longtime advocate of poetry, but that’s not true. Although I’ve read my share over the years, I’m a recent convert to its powers. John Coleman discusses the benefits of poetry for professionals at the Daily Good. He says, “Poetry teaches us to wrestle with and simplify complexity,” develop our creativity and sense of empathy, and more. He mentions several poets who were also successful business professionals, but left out one of my favorites, William Carlos Williams, a physician.

I’m sleeping better now that The Walking Dead is on hiatus until next year. No more nightmares about the end of civilization, running out of water and food, and hiding out from sociopaths. Yes, I get a bit too emotionally involved in stories. Even though this show is really about the living and not the dead, fellow fans will love this visual record by the National Post’s Andrew Barr and Richard Johnson of all the zombie kills and the tools used to do the deeds. Daryl’s in second place for kills – they better not kill him off!

Happy Friday!

The man himself (purloined from Next LOL)

The man himself (purloined from Next LOL)

The coolest thing I saw all week, no contest, was Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic free fall skydive. Nothing beats that. Red Bull has two short videos of the event: a 1:30 minute highlight version and a 4:30 minute full recap version. Both are exhilarating to watch.

If you publish text, video, and photos on the web, please understand how copyright works. I’ve been a little loose a few times with screenshots of YouTube videos, but other than that, I try to stick to the rules, it’s only fair.  However, I’ve seen lots of blogs using copyrighted photos, and I bet it’s because they just don’t know any better. My most popular post of all time explained the basics of copyright, so if you’re not clear, be a good social citizen and check it out.

Here’s the worst case scenario when you infringe on someone’s copyright. A blog hosted by EduBlogs, a client of web hosting firm ServerBeach, had posted a questionnaire copyrighted by Pearson, an educational publishing company. ServerBeach received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation notice from Pearson. Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica explains what happened next: instead of dealing with the complaint in a rational way, ServerBeach shut down all 1.45 million education blogs hosted by EduBlogs.

And here’s another one. Jeff John Roberts at GigaOm writes about copyright trolls hired by “image owners (who) are brandishing the nuclear option against everyone — from small blogs to careless interns.” This could happen to you if you use copyrighted material and the owner gets sore about it.

I love politics. I hate politics. That’s life inside my head during election season. I guess what really drives me bonkers is the partisan hatred. The self-righteous arrogance that too many people on both sides have toward the other. No wonder I’m an independent, but not undecided.

Chelsea J. Carter at CNN says this election tests Facebook friendships. An election should never test a real friendship but I can see how it would test your tolerance for being around someone who talks politics all the time. According to Pew Research Center, “Nearly one-fifth of people admit to blocking, unfriending or hiding someone on social media over political postings.” I’m part of that one-fifth. I’ve hidden people for now. I’ll bring them back later. Her article mentioned a Facebook page: Nobody Cares About Your Political Posts. Really. Like. There’s more to life than politics.

All this political drama might just be an exercise in someone’s lab. According to physicists at the University of Bonn, “they may have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation.” Have we finally discovered who the They are? Hmm, maybe someone is watching you.

And if that didn’t spin your mind around enough, have you read this Newsweek piece by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, about the after-life experience he had during a coma? I hope this guy is on the level. Pretty wild.

I read a disturbing essay last weekend by religious scholar Sarah Sentilles in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin: The Pen is Mightier: Sexist Responses to Women Writing about Religion. No, I don’t normally read the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, but I was led to it by one of my literary blogs. She writes about the sexist responses her recent book received from male critics. Then she goes on to discuss the more pervasive sexism existing in the literary world, and speculates about the reception her essay will receive: “I expect to be called whiny and strident and annoying and grating and hysterical and uninformed. I expect to be told I don’t know what I’m talking about.” Why does this persist? It makes no sense to me.

Art geeks will enjoy this one. Bence Hajdu creates new works from paintings by Old Masters, like David, Boticelli, and Fra Angelico. They’re eerie and wonderful in their abandoned state. See for yourself at Hyperallergic.

Happy Friday!

into the light by mindfulness (Flickr)

I lead off this week with a request to your heart. And wallet. Tonight, as you sit down to dinner, thousands of families in your area struggle to provide a nutritious meal to their kids. Food donations are decreasing, yet the number of adults and kids who go hungry every day is increasing.

In an effort to raise awareness, funds, and food as part of Hunger Action Month, starting at 6pm tonight, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina will stream live online for 24 hours from their warehouse in Raleigh. The telethon will be hosted by Gregory Ng of the popular online frozen food review show, FreezerBurns. Please visit their website and donate to our food bank, or to your local food bank.

Update: If you’re in DC, MD, or VA, check out what DelCor is doing to raise funds (and food) for the Capital Area Food Bank.

Now, back to the best of the week. Thanks for hanging in there with me, and for any help you can give to your local food bank.

My favorite tweet this week came via Dave Phillips – whom I’m featuring in my next Avectra post about association CEOs who excel at social media:

RT @ValaAfshar: Don’t do social, be S.O.C.I.A.L. – sincere | open | collaborative | interested | authentic | likeable.

My favorite hashtag of the week was from the Content Marketing World conference held in Columbus, OH: #cmworld. I have GOT to put that conference in my 2013 budget.

Mention the name Beth Kanter to any gathering of online non-profit folks and prepare for gushing adulations. Everyone loves Beth, and for good reason. She’s been dishing out good digital advice since, well, since forever it seems. Check out her tips to avoid getting content-fried – “a potential hazard for content curators,” she writes, but I’d add for many other folks who want to avoid getting distracted by the information deluge at our fingertips. All of them will bring more zen and less stress to your life.

I’ve been getting into online education lately – a fascinating area full of opportunity for associations. It’s been several years since I took an online class but next week I start one from Coursera – modern poetry. I expect it to be a nice kick to the right side of my brain. Jeff Cobb of Tagoras has been the e-learning guru of the association community before it was cool. Recently he wrote about “five key changes I think are needed if we really want to see a revolution in association education.” If you care about association education, this is required reading.

Facebook is an easy target for derision because they don’t really care about the user experience. We’re just data for sale. Despite its shortcomings, I still love Facebook because it helps me connect to family and friends in a way I didn’t have before. You see, I’m a bad friend (and sister, and cousin, and aunt) who doesn’t pick up the phone like I should, so thank god for Facebook. Alexandra Samuel pointed out another benefit – seven ways to enhance your vacations with Facebook.

Oh dear, I was going to point out a good post about things your customers wish you knew about them, but apparently the people who wrote that post don’t know that most of us HATE having to close those damn sign-up-for-our-newsletter pop-up boxes before we can even get to the post we wanted to read. So forget them.

You’ve probably seen this pair of posts from Fast Company making their way around Twitter, but maybe not. Perhaps this is the moment that will change your life! Find out from Kevin Purdy what successful people do with the first hour of their work day. And then, Lydia Dishman tells us what successful night owls get done before bed. After reading them you’ll either feel smugly awesome because you do a lot of these things already, or you’ll feel slightly inadequate because, well, you know.

Cheer up, it’s Friday!

beer relaxed weekly best reads

Photo by Fluffisch (Flickr)

That’s Not the Real Me: How Vanity Sabotages Facebook Advertising by Louie Herr

I find this idea both hilarious and accurate, especially this: “We are actors on a stage. Shakespeare, as ever, proves prescient.” We’re a crafty bunch, showing off our best selves on Facebook, sometimes cool, sometimes not. Recently I’ve posted several photos of backyard wildlife – turtles, spiders, lizards – not sure what I’m telling advertisers and the rest of my Facebook friends with that display. I’m sure to return to posting oh-so-fascinating snippets of my life soon. After all, I have an image to maintain.

Example of a Humanized Culture by Jamie Notter

The Netflix Culture slidedeck has been around a while but it rocked my world only this week. There’s a lot in there – 126 slides – but it’s well worth scrolling through — a peek into an inspirational workplace. Jamie says, “It’s not about values that just sound nice (integrity, honesty, diversity, etc.). It’s about behaviors and skills that are literally valued by you and others in the workplace.”

Use Your Brain: Why Marketers Must Understand Neuroscience by Mary Beth McEuen and Emily Falk

Marketing never gets boring because it focuses on what makes us tick. McEuen and Falk tell us to follow the RULE: Reframe, Understand, Listen, and Engage your audience.

You Can’t Start the Revolution from the Country Club by Anil Dash

A new paid platform, App.net, could be a rival to Twitter, after all, all the cool tech kids hang out there. And why not, the masses have invaded their precious Twitter so they need a new place to hang out and stroke each other’s egos. Life continues to have moments of high school. But I don’t completely blame them. I’ve had issues with Twitter lately, too much broadcasting (guilty) and not enough conversation. I’m determined to change my behavior and reclaim Twitter for conversation.

Dash says these “gated communities” like App.net risk being exclusive. “Building a social tool for “just us geeks” permanently privileges the few people who get in the door first, which means you’re giving a huge leg up to those who already have a pretty good set of advantages to begin with.”

Why Web Literacy Should Be Part of Every Education by Cathy Davidson and Mark Surman

Web literacy should be part of every adult’s toolbox too, but sadly it isn’t. Davidson and Surman make a call for web literacy in K-12 education. “…if web literacy, including web programming, was adopted by every school as a fourth basic literacy, kids would not only learn how to code, they would learn about interactivity, collaboration, the melding of the artistic and the scientific, creativity, and precision.”

And, in other news…

The web is full of chatter today about Lance Armstrong, a fallen hero for many, a relentless bully for others. It’s time to turn away from that era of cycling and its doping culture, and focus on cleaning up the sport. That’s the mission of Jonathan Vaughters, one of Armstrong’s former teammates who now manages the Garmin-Sharp cycling team. Check out his NY Times op-ed about his thoughts on (and experience with) doping.

Meanwhile, the magnificently beautiful state of Colorado is hosting the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Yesterday, one of my cycling heroes, Jens Voigt, won the stage. Jens is known in the cycling community as the guy who will “go full gas” and sacrifice himself, in terms of pain, to help out the team leader. “Shut up, legs!” is one of his mantras. His quirky sense of humor comes through in his tweets, his blog at Bicycling magazine, and interviews. This lovable beast, and I use that term with respect and affection, turns 41 in less than a month, and has already announced that he’ll race again next season. Not bad for an old guy.

Jens Voigt after winning Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge – screenshot from Bicycling magazine video

If you’re behind in your blog reading, like I am, let me help you out by suggesting a few of my recent favorites. Three of these bloggers have something in common, can you figure out what it is?

Long ago I stopped trying to keep up with Facebook changes. My work doesn’t require me to be a Facebook expert, so why not let the experts figure it out and soon enough I’ll learn from them everything I need to know. Maddie Grant at Socialfish, who’s an expert herself, raved about this post by Tonia Ries at The Realtime Report about the impact of recent Facebook changes on fan (or brand) pages. Tonia’s linked to dozens of other resources if you want even more information.

It isn’t often you come across such a helpful post as this one from Karl Sakas. He suggests eight questions to ask a SEO agency before signing a contract. SEO is critical for website traffic, but there are a lot of snake oil types out there who can talk a good talk but won’t be good for you in the long run.

Phil Buckley draws upon what he learned about motivation from Daniel Pink’s book Drive to understand the real reasons for an employee’s resignation. In his post What I Learned from a Resignation he shows how he’s drawing on that new knowledge to recruit employees.

I love the advice that Tim Giuliani shares with us from Guy Kawasaki: Don’t Write a Mission Statement, Write a Mantra. Guy says don’t hire an expensive consultant to write a useless complicated mission statement; instead write it yourself, a simple mantra that makes sense to everyone. I once heard someone say, if your mission statement can’t fit on a t-shirt, it’s too long.

Laurie Ruettimann has been on a TRUTH roll lately with one brilliant post after another. She mixes them up with HR humor and her usual brand of irreverent snarky wit. Here’s one of her brilliant ones: The Only Competitor You Have Is In Your Head. And another, You Can Be Average.

Do you know what three of these bloggers have in common? They’re from Raleigh! I didn’t plan that, it just can’t be helped; we have a big bunch of smarties here in the Triangle.

good reading selected by Deirdre Reid Raleigh freelance writer

Our fair city -- photo by twbuckner/Flickr

How often do you unplug? How many social media platforms do you participate in? Are you feeling a bit burnt, overloaded and stretched thin trying to keep up with it all? Yeah? Then, quick, read this short post by Simon Mainwaring at Fast Company: Top 10 Ways to Keep Social Media from Driving You Insane. I like #7, Refresh.

Cindy King collected advice from several Social Media Examiner writers in 21 Dangerous Blogging Mistakes (and How to Fix Them). Don’t steer away because the post focuses on mistakes, it’s really an excellent primer on effective blogging. Pay attention to Mistake #9, Bad Writing. (Said with just a bit of self-interest.)

Instead of a blog post, my next recommendation is a Prezi. What’s a Prezi? A more visually appealing alternative to PowerPoint. Maddie Grant at Socialfish shared a Prezi by Carie Lewis of The Humane Society. It’s the best advice I’ve seen about Facebook in a long time: Why I Don’t “Like” You. You need to read this if you, your business or your organization has a Facebook page. You’ll thank me, or Maddie, or even better, Carie, later.

You can always count on Andrew Hannelly at TMG Custom Media for good advice, the kind of advice that people normally pay for. If you want to know why your email subscribers stop subscribing, he’ll give you seven reasons. And, he’ll tell you what you can do about it. If you follow his advice, and it works, at least buy the man a beer.

I’ve always been a language nut. I’ve studied Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Chinese, and learned enough of a few others to get by as a tourist. Can I speak any of them now? Heck, no, if you don’t use it, you lose it, cliché, but true. One of the cool things about studying languages is the insight it gives you into how other people perceive and deal with the world around them. When you study Chinese, it’s like traveling to another culture’s brain without leaving your living room.

I was reminded of that when reading this interesting post by Emily Badger at the Miller-McCune blog, Rescuing Endangered Languages Means Saving Ideas. Here’s what she means by that:

“Language systems don’t merely translate universal ideas into different spellings; they encode different concepts. And when we lose a language, we risk losing those concepts. A lot of concepts are on the edge of oblivion — out of about 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, half are projected to disappear by the end of the century, if not sooner. That’s an amazing amount of knowledge.”

That’s all for this week. Go learn a language and happy reading!

raleigh freelance writer blogger copywriter

photo by Mike Licht

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,171 other followers