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)

 

 

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)

 

Have you ever pulled up a website on your phone and been frustrated by the tiny text and tabs? Unless I’m desperate to do something there, I usually give up. In either case, I’m frustrated by the awful user experience. Don’t they care about their customers?

When’s the last time you looked at your association website on a mobile phone? Hopefully, it was a good experience because, according to technology research firm Gartner, by 2013 more people will access websites with mobile phones than with desktop computers.

You’ll see evidence of this trend if you look at your website’s analytics and note the different browsers, operating systems, and screen resolutions used by visitors. Bear in mind, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, the numbers may reflect the cold reality that your mobile users have tried and given up on your site.

Members increasingly want your association in their pocket. When they’re not at a desktop computer, they want to find and read what they need, look up other members’ contact info, register for events, attend webinars, and participate in online community discussions.

If your website is difficult to navigate on mobile phones, if images or pages don’t load, or if users have to scroll or zoom excessively to view content, you have a big problem. It looks like you don’t care.

Read more about responsive design websites at the Avectra blog.

responsive association website design

photo by Jeremy Keith (Flickr/adactio)

Museums and associations, they’re more alike than you think.

  • Nonprofit mission-driven membership institutions governed by member boards
  • Engaging audiences through education
  • Traditional and hierarchic cultures
  • Professional staff siloed in departments
  • Risk-averse and slow-moving
  • Striving to remain meaningful to a growing younger market

While volunteering in two different museums, I overheard many staff conversations: they worry about the same things we do. When I read the blogs of museum professionals, I’m struck by how much we’re wrestling with some of the same issues.

Many museums are experimenting with new ways to engage with visitors and the public — fun short-term initiatives, like the New Museum’s visitor tweet reviews, and bold long-term steps, like the Walker Art Center’s new website.
 
The online museum community has been raving about the Walker’s new site, calling it “a game-changer” and “a potential paradigm shift for institutional websites.” What’s the big deal? And what can associations borrow from their approach?

Engagement catalyst

Like most museums, the Walker’s website was focused primarily on providing information about their collections, exhibits and membership. It was all about the Walker. Now the site is, in their words, “an online hub for ideas about contemporary art and culture, both inside the Walker and beyond.” They busted through their physical walls to start a conversation in the online world, where they engage not only those who might visit the museum in Minneapolis, but anyone interested in contemporary art and culture.

Please read the rest of this post about websites as industry hubs at the Avectra blog.

association website content marketing

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

This is a big week in the association management industry — the week of Innovation Talks, aka #asaeinnov. I wrote about innovation in associations last week for the Avectra blog and will have another post on Wednesday about how Disney encourages an innovative culture.

Innovation is right up there as one of the most over-used words this past year, but maybe that’s because we finally realize that if we don’t innovate, we might become irrelevant. Apple’s been doing it right for a long time so Alan Webber at The Christian Science Monitor looks at what Apple can teach the rest of us.

You want to start a blog, you really do, but there are many factors to consider, or so you say. Laura Click examines The Top 10 Excuses That Keep You From Starting a Blog and tells you how to overcome each one.

Now you have a blog, but you still have trouble finding time to blog regularly, despite Laura’s good advice. Stephanie Cuevas to the rescue with her tips for Time Management for Ridiculously Busy Bloggers.

When’s the last time you took a hard look at the About Us page on your website? Is it the same old lame copy your organization has been using forever? Oh dear. Have no fear, Brian Eisenberg at ClickZ shares the Five Traits of an Effective ‘About Us’ Page

Sheila Scarborough provides some of the best advice I’ve read about conference tweeting plus Tips for Following Conference Twitter Hashtags. Bookmark this one so you’re ready for your next real or virtual conference experience.

Finally, and in keeping with the spirit of risk-taking and innovation, here’s a list by Michele Martin of Seven Dangerous Things Every Adult Should Do. I think I’ve done at least six of them. I’m honestly not sure about #4. Surely I’ve done that in a committee meeting in front of members, but I can’t say for sure. What about you?

blogging website copywriting innovation association freelance writer

Photo by Flattop341 (Flickr)

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