First…

Oh, Boston, you’re my home.

Dirty Water by The Standells (video)

Dirty Water by The Standells (video)
my favorite by Mission of Burma didn’t seem appropriate right now

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

One of my favorite curated posts to read during the weekend is GigaOm’s Look Back at the Week in Tech. They describe it as “our rewind and quick take on the most important stories and some great links for your weekend reading.”

digitalNOW (#diginow13)

I’ve been too busy to dig deeply into my digitalNOW conference notes but Sheri Jacobs‘ session on membership value and segmentation inspired me to write a post for Avectra about an interesting membership model. 

Maggie McGary is exasperated with the disconnect she witnessed during social media presentations by association execs at digitalNOW. When she examined one association’s programs, she discovered that social media was helping them create value and revenue, yet the exec said just the opposite. Why the disconnect? Knee-jerk reaction syndrome? Fear? 

Digital Marketing for Business (#dmfb)

I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Digital Marketing for Business conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. Like any conference, there were a few so-so sessions, but most of the 16 sessions I attended were excellent. I was especially impressed with Gregory Ng’s opening keynote on Tuesday – The Data Driven CMO. I kept thinking the association community would really benefit from his ideas, particularly on the intersection of tech and marketing – after all, most association positions have an element of marketing in them. ASAE and digitalNOW, give him a look. 

Another session I enjoyed at #dmfb was John Lane’s Content Marketing Art of War. He led with a stat that demonstrates why content marketing is critical to the success of any organization: 60% of the B2B buying process is over before the prospect makes the first sales touch with you. Content marketing is about delivering value before the sale. It’s the hook that entices prospects (and customers) to come to you. 

Tweetstream alert

On Tuesday I also saw intriguing tweets from Andrew Hanelly who was attending Folio’s MediaMashup conference. My plan is to check out the #mediamashup tweet stream this weekend. What a geek. 

Reads of the Week

Ray van Hilst says associations “are already on the leading edge” of the content marketing trend because the key elements to successful content marketing — content, distribution and trust – are embedded in association culture and business. But, many associations are losing the content competition because of antiquated policies and processes. See if you’re one of them.

Do you know what your association’s younger members really need? Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs does. He facilitated a strategic planning session for MACPA’s New/Young Professionals Network and now knows the top seven issues facing young professionals. MACPA also “developed a list of the top activities we can do to help young professionals address these issues.” 

“Each generation imagines itself as rebellious and iconoclastic. But none before has felt as free to call bullshit on conventional wisdom, backed by a trillion pages of information on the web and with the power of the Internet to broadcast their opinions. They have thrown off the shackles of received culture—compiling their own playlists, getting news from Twitter, decorating web pages with their own art.”

That’s Jerry Adler at Wired describing the first digital generation. This fascinating article is required reading for anyone who plans to be alive the next few years.

I love the ideas that Katya Andresen shares on what to do when you’re stuck on replay and need inspiration. She says, “It’s one thing to identify best practices and build on what works – it’s quite another to get too comfortable and call it in. Whole industries have fallen into habit only to be rendered irrelevant. You have to keep fine-tuning (or sometimes revolutionizing) what you do and how you do it.” She’s writing for a non-profit audience, but her suggestions would do wonders for any of us.

Quickies

  • 27 time-saving tools & tricks to be a more productive marketer (HubSpot)
  • You too, if you’re smart and talented enough, can be a kick-ass, well-paid conference speaker like Laurie Ruettimann. She shares how she rose to the top of the HR conference circuit. (Cynical Girl)
  • Here’s the poop on the daily routines of seven top CEOs. (Guardian)
  • The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming! (The Atlantic)
  • Want to help feed hungry kids? Vote for my local food bank (or yours) so they can receive a huge grant from Walmart. (Facebook)

In case you missed the best video this week – Boston Bruins’ fans singing the National Anthem – I’ve got you covered. Chills and tears.

Happy Friday! 

bruins anthem

Google Reader is where I go first thing in the morning for my professional reads about associations, marketing, digital media, technology, etc., and at the end of the day for my personal reads about food, culture, etc. I have hundreds of RSS subscriptions in dozens of Reader folders. Yes, I find a lot to read on Twitter, but its randomness, although appreciated, is no substitute for Reader. I rely on Reader to catch up on anything I missed from my favorite blogs and sites.

When I heard the news yesterday about Reader’s demise – is “murder” too strong a word? – I tweeted this:

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for Google Reader. Dramatic but true. Reading changes lives.”

My fellow Reader addicts, we have a few months to find a replacement. So far, Feedly is in the lead for me. What’s looking good for you? Ernie Smith at Associations Now plans to write about post-Reader life on Tuesday. In the meantime, you can start your hunt for a Reader replacement with these posts:

Wednesday night, I returned from ASAE’s Great Ideas conference and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I hope to have time this weekend to review the tweetstream of my favorite hashtag of the week, no surprise, #ideas13.

The SXSW tweetstream is too vast to explore, so here’s an alternative: the official audio recordings.

Katie Bascuas at Associations Now writes about the four friends every content marketer needs. When I first read this, I thought, what about me!? But, no worries. In his comment, my friend Scott Oser suggested adding a fifth type: writer/subject matter expert.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a market research consultant, Katya Andresen provides advice on how to do a little research on your own. Just be sure not to rely solely on anecdotes – data is your friend. Also, although it’s tempting to talk to your board or other volunteer leaders about their needs, remember, they may not represent the views of many of your members or constituents.

Association folks, are you reading Jeffrey Cufaude’s Cultivating Engagement series? Here’s yesterday’s post: Let’s Talk About Connections. I’ve lost track of the number of good ideas he’s suggested in this series. Each post would make an interesting and productive topic for a brown bag lunch.

If your company or organization is just getting started with a blog, or even if you’ve had one for a while, check out this eight-point blog analysis by Daniel Burstein at Marketing Sherpa. You’re bound to find something you can improve.

In his New York Times Bit column, Nick Bilton writes about the development of a new digital etiquette as we adopt new tools and adapt to information overload. He says, “Many social norms just don’t make sense to people drowning in digital communication.” Careful, it’s a fine line between trying not to waste someone’s time and appearing rude or ungrateful.

It’s getting harder and harder to turn off the laptop or iPad at night. Google recently announced the launch of Art Talks: “a series of talks, hosted on Google Hangout, with museum directors, curators, historians, and educators. It’s an online series that aims to educate art lovers on famous masterpieces and share the insights of some of the art world’s greatest minds.” Even though I love this news, I’m still mad at Google.

Use your social media powers for good! Find out if a local charity needs social media ambassadors to help share their stories and news. I’ve been helping my local food bank in this way. It’s an easy way to contribute without getting off the couch.  

Happy Friday!

Photo by Striatic (Flickr)

Hmm, is she relaxing or volunteering?
Photo by Striatic (Flickr CC license)

Over at CopyBlogger, Georgina El Morshdy shares 30 ways to build the “know, like, and trust” factor that grows an audience. She tells content marketers — meaning any individual or organization that uses content to educate and build relationships: “The reality is, your audience won’t pick up real momentum until you’ve mastered the “know, like, trust” factor. Face to face salespeople have known this for decades, but some content marketers are still struggling to get it right.” Take a look at her list to see how you can improve your marketing.

Why is content marketing so important? Jackie Roy at TMG shares 24 statistics that tell you why. Here’s #1: “80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.” Consumers have the same preferences. Educate and earn trust and respect – that’s the key.

Sponsored content is becoming more ubiquitous, so thankfully Jeff Sonderman at Poynter provides guidance on how to publish sponsored content without lowering editorial standards. He’s writing this piece for news organizations but his advice works for magazines and other publications as well.

Thanks to Elizabeth Engel for spotting and sharing HubSpot’s bookmarkable list of spam trigger words. Keep this list handy when you’re writing email subject lines.

What’s the best time to send those emails? Who knows! There are as many opinions on that as hours in the day! Scott Stratton gives the best advice: “The only important data out there is what your own list does.” And even better: “The best way to get your email opened is to write content worthy of being opened.” Go see what else he has to say, it’s always spot on.

Here’s another handy resource – five free image editing and photo correction tools from Lauren Barraco at Business 2 Community.

In the fall of 2012, Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter, authors of Humanize, surveyed 505 individuals about social media and leadership. Among the findings: “84% agree that leadership involvement in social media gives their company a competitive edge.” That doesn’t surprise me. I’ve learned the same by talking to association CEOs about their use of social media. However, many CEOs still resist social media at their own peril.

Every year I look forward to MGI’s Membership Marketing Benchmark Report. Besides being valuable as a benchmark for association membership efforts and trends, it’s full of great tips and ideas. If your association hasn’t yet participated in this year’s research survey, please schedule some time to do so. The entire association community thanks you!

I love this idea from the American Booksellers Association (ABA): be the member. Joe Rominiecki at Associations Now explains:

“Once a year, during the holidays, Oren Teicher follows this advice. The CEO of (ABA), the trade association for independent bookstores, visits a member store to volunteer as an extra hand for three or four days during the holiday sales rush. This season he volunteered at Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, Kansas, helping with restocking, organizing, handselling, and any of “the 1,001 tasks that go on in the busy time of the year,” he says.”

Instead of thinking of reasons why you can’t do this, why not think about ways you can do this.

Would you like less stress and irritation in your life? More contentment and less frustration? Patti Digh has some brilliant advice from her yoga teacher, Cindy Dollar: “I used to get caught up in drama, and now when there is drama, I just say ‘wow.’” Life is less stressful when you’re aware of and in control of your reactions – that’s a big yoga thing. We have the power, we just don’t remember to use it.

The LA Weekly found a Banksy-like graffiti of Lance Armstrong – a spray paint image of him doping while riding. Check it out over there — I didn’t want to steal it.

That’s all folks, Happy Friday!

Selexyz bookstore in the Dominican church in Maastricht - photo by Bert Kaufmann (Flickr)

Now this is a bookstore: Selexyz bookstore in the Dominican church in Maastricht – photo by Bert Kaufmann (Flickr)

Tomorrow my Twitter avatar will don her Santa hat, a sign the holiday season has officially begun. I expect to add about five pounds to my already slightly voluptuous (I like that better than “overweight”) body during this season of abundance and excess. Unfortunately, many people can’t even afford to put dinner on the table, forget feasting.

You can spread your holiday blessings to those who have less by contributing to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s Holiday Meals Drive. Any new, lapsed or increased gifts will be matched by the Stewards Fund, so it’s a doubly good time to give. If you’re not an NC resident, I bet your local food bank would appreciate your donation too.

Here’s one for the association crowd by ASAE’s Joe Rominiecki at Associations Now about the Member Concierge at the California Dental Association. Every association needs a Member Concierge! It’s time to focus on the basics and hire someone who will welcome, listen to, and keep in touch with new members and then share what they learn with the rest of staff. So smart and well worth the budget investment.

I still see a lot of blogs that illegally (and unethically) use someone else’s photos. Yeah yeah yeah, they don’t know any better. Well, that’s why I feature posts like this every once in a while. Nobody really wants to do the wrong thing, do they? Sssh, spare me the truth. Rhonda Hurwitz shares 5 Ways to (Legally) Use Photos in Social Media on Your Blog.

Staying up on my soapbox, you all know how much I love Twitter. It’s not blind dumb love, it’s based on cold calculating logic – I learn and connect. Donna Kastner agrees: No Time for Twitter? You’re Missing a Professional Development Feast. Come sit down at the table!

Lauren Sinclair and the team at MultiView agree too. They love the knowledge nuggets they get from Twitter. “Twitter also gives executives the chance to learn from and have dialogue with various association thought leaders,” like, they mention, my pal, KiKi L’Italien, the host/moderator of the weekly association Twitter chat, #assnchat. Love that hashtag!

“One of the first things you learn in Google’s Power Searching class is that if you know about the magic of CTRL+F then you are in the top 10 percent of all searchers. That made someone like me, who uses the word find function on the regular a little cocky about my searching skills.” Me too, Rebecca. In You Google Wrong! at The Atlantic, Rebecca Greenfield shares a bunch of helpful Google searching tips.

How many people are in space right now? I often wonder about that, don’t you? Well, wonder no more. There’s a website for that!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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.

The morning after Sandy hit I read a post by John Herrman about how we use Twitter during disasters. “Twitter’s capacity to spread false information is more than canceled out by its savage self-correction. In response to thousands of retweets of erroneous Weather Channel and CNN reports that the New York Stock Exchange had been flooded with “three feet” of water, Twitter users, some reporters and many not, were relentless: photos of the outside of the building, flood-free, were posted. Knowledgeable parties weighed in.” Wisdom of the crowd?

Andrew Razeghi at Fast Company asks whether we should hire someone for what they know or whom they know. IQ or Klout score? He uses Edison and Tesla as examples of success (or lack of it) based on the strength of networks – Edison had a strong one, Tesla didn’t. “This difference between innovating privately and innovating out loud is one of the most significant differentiators between successful innovators and those that fail. It largely explains the success of new venture accelerators, corporate new venture groups, and even academic researchers. Those with the most robust, engaged, and diverse social networks win.”

Does this sound familiar? You’re excited about the potential that content marketing will bring to your company, but once you start thinking about what it will take, you feel overwhelmed and defeated before you even begin. Don’t despair. At Copyblogger, Eric Enge provides “9 tips on how to build a lean content marketing team in a way that might just make the size of the task a lot more manageable.”

Do paywalls work? Mathew Ingram at GigaOm says “the New York Times is clearly something of a bellwether — and in particular, a sign of whether paywalls can (or can’t) make up for the ongoing dramatic decline in advertising revenue. Unfortunately for anyone in the industry who was hoping for a definitive answer, however, the paper’s latest financial results are a mixed bag.” Association professionals will be interested in reading what he thinks about the membership model as an approach.

Anna Caraveli is one of my favorite association bloggers. She has written before about the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), a virtual professional network of veterinarians, not an association, that has “a growing membership of 49,000 and healthy profit margin.” How do they do it? Anna describes seven “practices from VIN that will help you translate aspirations and promises into new capabilities for engagement, relevance and innovation by embedding them in your organization’s DNA.”

The company that controls William Faulkner’s works has filed suit against Sony Pictures Classics, because Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, included a line from As I Lay Dying. Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times says, “It hinges on a single scene in the film, when its time-traveling protagonist, played by Owen Wilson, states: ‘The past is not dead. Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party.’” I read somewhere that one of Faulkner’s relatives is behind the lawsuit. I guess nobody ever explained Fair Use to him or her. This one should be thrown out, I’m sure every author, dead or alive, and lawyer would agree.

Finally, a feast for your eyes. Phillip Davies at The Guardian takes us behind closed doors into London’s hidden interiors. The photographs by Derek Kendall reveal “an amazing architectural heritage that rivals some of (London’s) most visited and celebrated sites.” Wouldn’t you love to take a tour of these secret places? Imagine sipping on an ale in The Black Friar!

Happy Friday!

I want to visit this Black Friar some day. Photo by den99 (Flickr).

Eight years ago, the Girl Scouts of the USA decided it was time to transform the organization. “We knew we had to…revitalize the organization to ensure we remain compelling, contemporary and relevant to today’s girls.”

“Girl Scouts was founded 100 years ago. We need to update the organization and our model, or else we’re going to lose people,” says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Sound familiar?

Think big. Act boldly. Transform yourself.

It doesn’t surprise me the Girl Scouts plan to transform themselves. After all, the Girl Scouts have been a transformational experience for many of their alumnae, including me.  According to Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, Girl Scout alumnae exhibit more positive life outcomes than do non-Girl Scout alumnae, including self-perceptions, volunteerism, community work, civic engagement, education, income and socioeconomic status. Not bad.

Are your members’ lives changed because of their membership? Do they get experiences they wouldn’t have elsewhere? Relationships they couldn’t develop elsewhere? Education they can’t find elsewhere? Does your association provide a transformational experience for your members? Imagine if you did, you wouldn’t have any worries about recruitment, retention or relevance.

Read more about why the Girl Scouts have lessons for associations at the Avectra blog.

My old Girl Scout sash

How’s your first-year member retention rate? Not that great? You’re not alone. First year retention is a challenge for most associations, maybe because they spend much more money on acquiring new members than on guiding them into the association. Last week I suggested several onboarding ideas, beginning with the application and welcome touches. The next touch: orientation.

New approaches to orientation

Many associations still run orientations the way the Pennsylvania School Boards Association used to: “We talked at new members — the ‘It’s all about us’ approach.”

Turn the focus around and make the new member reception (more appealing than ‘orientation’) about them. Hold it before an event to encourage participation. Allow plenty of discussion time. Ask veteran members to learn more about the new members, answer questions, show them around the website and advise them on membership paths.

Invite new vendor members to a marketing workshop where a veteran member panel explains how to market and develop business within the association. Send tips on association networking and relationship-building to all new vendor members.

Please read the rest of this post about new member onboarding at the Avectra blog.

association new member onboarding orientation membership

Photo by Global X/Flickr

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