Challenges of community changes

In celebration of Community Manager Appreciation Day (a.k.a. #cmad) on January 26th, one live Google+ hangout after another was broadcast for 24 hours covering a wide variety of topics about community management. I participated in a panel talking about change in communities in hour 20 of the day. Entitled, Change Management: Migrations, Redesigns & Upgrades, Oh My!, we talked about how change is inevitable and the best practices in dealing with negative comments, how to communicate the change, not-so-popular decisions by upper management, technical breakdowns, and more. I was in good company with many veterans in the industry representing a wide variety of communities in many sectors; Allison Carney, Patrick Cleary, Scott Moore, Lauri Travis, and host, Jenn Emerson. I provided the perspective from migrating corporate websites owned by a corporate communications team. A complaint is a gift One of my favourite takeaways from our discussion was a quote from Scott Moore who said that “A complaint is a gift”. While no one wishes to receive any complaints or negative comments, they do provide valuable learnings that can improve your product/community/whathaveyou. I believe it was Allison Carney who shared her experiences with this. Your organization can benefit from both positive and negative comments. If it weren’t for some unexpected negative feedback that I’ve received for Stuttering is Cool, I wouldn’t have come up with an idea for an awareness campaign that generated a lot of reach on Twitter, Facebook, and even Tumblr! Which, in turn, generated a lot of new insight from audience comments (all positive). You are the member advocate Another favourite take away came from a discussion about how the community...

14 of my podcasting best practices

Podcasting seems to be popular again. I don’t know if it ever wasn’t popular but it seems like more and more marketers are talking about it. I’ve been podcasting since 2006, with my longest running show, Stuttering is Cool, still going strong. So, I thought I’d share my audio podcasting best practices. In no particular order… 1. Content is still, and always has been, king Just like blogging, choose a topic you’re passionate in and run with it. Just like blogging, it’s no use to wonder if anyone would listen to what you have to say. Give it a try and see where your show goes. But you must offer something of quality. And like blogging, it can be about your day, your favourite movies, the line of work your in, or… well, like I said, whatever you’re passionate in! 2. Audio podcasting is the most intimate medium Years ago I’ve had the pleasure of attending a podcasting workshop by Tod Maffin who worked in radio. He mentioned how the headphone, or ear bud, is physically right next to us. Touching our ears. Video can’t do that. Blogs can’t do that. Hence why Tod also advised that in you shouldn’t address your audience in the plural form in your shows. For example, instead of saying “Hello everybody!”, you should instead address it as if you were speaking to one person. “Hello! I hope you are doing well”. Or something to that nature. Instead of “I’d love to receive feedback from everyone”, you should say “I’d like to hear from you”. Why? Podcasting is not traditional radio that is one-way. Just like blogging,...

Design for the user. The user isn’t you.

It is too easy to assume that whatever it is we’re about to post is earth-shattering fantastic, but that doesn’t mean our audience will think so, too. They are interacting with our websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, or whathaveyou, to solve a problem. Be it finding a specific product for their home, information about a school course, making a donation, finding the time when a bus will arrive, whatever it is that drives a person to search or browse somewhere in your digital footprint in the first place. Thus – 1. Design for the user 2. The user isn’t you I first read these two golden rules on a blog about user experience design back in the early 2000s during my web design days (unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the blog nor link to give proper credit). These rules can be directly applied to content marketing. Actually, anything we create for online consumption. 1. Create content for the user. The user isn’t you. Like I said, it’s our job as members of the digital team (content creators, content marketers, communicators, etc.) to make it easy for our users to solve their problems. We need to simply ask ourselves, “Will our users find this fantastic earth-shattering thing useful?”. And answer it through the eyes of the members of your personas/target audience. For instance, when I worked at a hospital for kids with disabilities, I’d ask myself “how would this piece of content [a photo, a link to a page on our website, the wording of a tweet] help me if I were a parent with a child with...

My comic strip campaign for stuttering awareness

International Stuttering Awareness Day takes place every year on October 22. I like to plan an awareness campaign each time. In the past I’ve created audio podcasts, special Google+ Hangouts throughout the day, blog posts, and tweeting stuttering fun facts mixed in with a few silly, made up ones for engagement. This year, I decided on creating a series of comic strips. I chose a few common stuttering misconceptions and added a one-panel comic strip to them. I wanted to use humour (my speciality) to politely inform and educate. The strip above is my favourite of the bunch. I posted the rest of my comics below. Since my goal is to spread awareness, I designed the graphics to be viewable and shareable on social media networks. And since there’s a lot of noise on social networks these days, I opted for a minimal and straight-to-the-point design. I also created one for the kids! Of course, they aren’t really on social media but this would be more of an offline campaign or B2B (speech language pathologists, schools, etc.) of sorts. The cartoon fox is Franky Banky who is the protagonist in my illustrative self-help book for my fellow people who stutter. So yes, my other goal is to spread brand awareness (hence the brought-to-you copy at the bottom). The International Stuttering Association hosts an online conference every year in October leading up to International Stuttering Awareness Day. Head on over to isad.isastutter.org if you’d like to learn more about stuttering and what it’s like to live with stuttering. You can also check out my podcast, Stuttering is Cool...

Crowdfunding is my latest adventure

Slight excerpt from the book I’ll be crowdfunding Crowdfunding is my latest learning adventure. Joining forces with my friend, Jean-François Leblanc, who lives in Quebec City, we will learn this exciting new field first hand — in not only raising funds, but also ongoing engagement with a community in a slightly different environment from the usual social media for a brand. Soon, Jean-François and I will be crowdfunding to produce a French translation of my book, “Stuttering is Cool: A Guide to Stuttering in a Fast-Talking World” which I self-published at the end of 2013. Jean-François and I met through my podcast of the same name, then in a Stutter Social hangout and in person at the National Stuttering Association conference in 2012. Along with about 200 of our fellow stutterers in the community, we’ve been friends ever since. Two audiences, different languages Since our target audience will be the francophone stuttering and speech language pathologist communities, we will be running what is somewhat a bilingual campaign. One of the best practices for running a successful crowdfunding campaign is to first tap into your existing network of friends, family, associates, etc. Both Jean-François and I are active in the English speaking stuttering community but would they be interested in funding a version of my book written in a language which most of them do not understand? Fortunately, Jean-François also hangs out in the francophone stuttering community where the wishes of a French version of my book emerged. He will be helping me connect with our online francophone audience. Thus, our campaign will naturally be in French. However, we shouldn’t...

Getting the C-suite to warm up to social media

I came across this article in The Guardian about various reasons the c-suite may not understand or see the value in social media. At the end of the article it lists 3 useful ways to explain the value in social media. However, not every c-suite is alike. This is why I’d like to add a tip of my own to the list: show them how other organizations have benefitted. Especially organizations in the same industry. Get the c-suite to use social media The first piece of advice listed was getting the c-suite to use social media. Create profiles of their own so they have a hands-on experience. but this can be time consuming and who knows, maybe they just don’t care for it. Like how some people don’t care for one network over another. I can already hear the potential replies.  Too busy to engage, why should I let anybody know what I ate for lunch?, I’m not young enough, I don’t understand technology. Show them how members of c-suites in other organizations use social media on their own accounts. For example, Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine (@PeterAceto) provides a more human personality to his brand while newly appointed CEO, Leslee Thompson (@Leslee_KGH), turned the dismal state of Kingston General Hospital completely around along with engaging with patients and physicians like never before. You can also show them the social media profiles of other organizations are doing. You don’t necessarily have to only show them c-suite profiles. Simulate a crisis This is a great tip. The c-suite likes risk management. But what if no one’s got the time? Other...