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...

What does podcasting look like in 2013?

Looking to relaunch his podcast, my friend and fellow podcaster, Sylvain Grand’Maison, recently asked on the Podcast Artifacts Facebook group what is important to add on a website for a podcast in 2013. Back in the 2000’s, an RSS feed was vital, buttons to various podcatchers, email subscriptions and of course, an audio player. But are they relevant in today’s world where the website is just one piece to the content consumer’s toolbox? Sylvain’s question really made me think. The audience of my podcast, Stuttering is Cool, is mostly non-tech so I have always kept and tweaked the podcatchers buttons on my website. And I also offer email notifications (let’s face it, podcasting has never been as easy to access as traditional radio). Then again, I also designed my website to work like a radio. Just press play. So what kind of advice did other group members give Sylvain? In a nutshell, add the traditional stuff since it’s a best practice to ensure all levels of technological knowledge has been accommodated. Don’t forget accessibility as well! 1. RSS feeds still serve a purpose for apps like Flipboard and Google Currents. 2. Email subscription can be effective if your audience is low-tech. Remember, just because you are a techie, doesn’t mean your entire audience is as well (and you shouldn’t ignore the non-techies). Unless, of course, the topic of your podcast is tech in nature, then you can safely assume some level of knowledge. And just because you have a website or blog doesn’t mean people will take the initiative and return often. The web is very noisy now and...

Oh the benefits of failure!

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend TAHSN Education Day 2013 with my day job team a few weeks ago. The annual conference is a collaboration among communications departments of teaching hospitals (which is what the TAHSN refers to: Toronto Academic Health Science Network). Held at Sunnybrook Hospital, this year’s theme was social media and the day was filled topics from brand storytelling to crisis management and learning from failure. We’ve heard from fellow TASHN hospital communicators and social media experts, Mark Farmer of York University, Boyd Neil from H+K Strategies, and Leslie Church of Google Canada. Some of my take aways: 1. Multi-channel roll out is a big job I can attest to this from rolling out messages of my various projects. Every social channel comes with its own set of rules and needs for maintenance and tender loving care. And you should also be mindful of SEO ensuring each channel doesn’t duplicate copy which deters Google. Remember, every social channel has its own distinct type of audience. What may work for YouTube may not for Vine. What may work for Twitter may not for a Facebook or Google+ page. This is also a reason why true social engagement is not a part time job. 2. Appeal to the heart when telling stories Powerful stories appeal to the heart and rational mind. Well crafted stories trigger action. This is why fundraisers typically feature a person’s story about their challenge(s). Tugging at our hearts, we will feel empowered to help that person through our call to action. 3. Tap into the pulse of conversations instead of trying to start...

NASA putting the social back in social media

Knowing how to keep enthusiasm going among followers is an important ingredient in community engagement. I participated in last week’s #cmgrchat (Twitter chat about community management hosted by thecommunitymanager.com) with the team behind some of NASA‘s many, many, many twitter accounts (over 250 of them); @Stephist (a.k.a. Stephanie L. Smith), @VeronicaMcG (a.k.a. Veronica McGregor) and @CourtOConnor (a.k.a. Courtney O’Connor). It was a Q & A style twitter chat. The @NASA Twitter account has 2.8 million, @MarsCuriosity 1.1 million (from 800,000 within its first week of existence), @AsteroidWatch with over 900,000. Excitement within the community management, um, community on Twitter was a buzz, I mean all a-twitter, with excitement of learning the secrets behind the space agency’s success. A summary of the twitter chat will be posted on The Community Manager’s website. Meanwhile, here are my take-aways: 1. With over 250 Twitter accounts across NASA, this allows their voice to be more targeted towards various audiences. Reminds me of Google+’s circles feature. 2. Their strategy for building community is based upon increasing understanding and enthusiasm in space exploration and exposing “newbies to the things that made us fall in love with space exploration.” 3. They also host in-person #NASASocial events at various NASA centers to keep the social in social media. Attendees are selected randomly and these events often coincide with major missions. They also give citizen journalists access to @NASA facilities & teams to share online. “[It] Remind[s] us all of the humans behind the missions & followers“, said @Stephist. In fact, the first #NASASocial event was a way to thank ambassadors engaged with the @MarsPhoenix mission. Participant, @TheMiddle, a.k.a Darryl...