Tag: communications

Is your businesss mobile?

Does my organization even have a mobile version of its key digital assets? Come to think of it, when was the last time I checked our site on phone, hmm .. Isn’t getting a mobile face for our brand quite the undertaking on its own?

image source: appdataroom.com

image source: appdataroom.com

Lets walk through this inner dialogue you’re having with yourself. Here’s what I think:

Yes, your brand needs a mobile face

We’ve heard the excuses. “Well, our business is a basic bricks-n-mortar shop, catering to local customers with selective tastes for organic-only produce. Why would we need a mobile version of our site or an app for that matter?”

True, your biz may well be enjoying an undisrupted period of success through steady, local traffic and remarkable WOM. But what about your untapped audience? Tourists, wholesalers, international producers of organic products, health professionals, the list goes on.

Mobile is the digital age’s calling card. Sure the power of Word-of-Mouth can be quite unmatched. But WOM also spreads faster online. Why not consider a store app that pings users with online specials, in-store coupons, price comparison charts, nutrition calculator and a host of other mobile offerings? Mobile is no longer a nice-to-have lifestyle feature in our intensely wired world.

No, not everything needs to be mobile

Remember back in the late 90’s when every organization was scrambling mad to get a website up and running? “We need to be on the web. It’s gonna be huge!!” Well, this time, the urgency is about seeking relevance in a mobile mode of existence.

And now that we’ve learned a great deal from the halcyon dot.com days of cutting and pasting printed content onto a digital canvas, we’re more confident about being selective, of not having every aspect of our business made available and accessible on mobile.

At best, your mobile presence should consist of these three content types:

  • Information about who you are, why your audience should care (brand ID)
  • What you are prepared to do for your audience (task-oriented feature that benefits user)
  • How your audience can reach you (CTA mechanism)

Yes, you can do it on the cheap

But only in cases of urgency / emergency. Only because you were blind-sided by the seemingly undisturbed permanence of the old ‘doing business’ model until you ended up having to cross two types of bridges:

  1. Band-Aid Bridge. You’ve hemmed and hawed for months but just ended up sweeping the issue under the rug, until one of your prospects actually emails you, asking “Is there a mobile version of that catalogue?” But you must treat this is an interim measure until you’ve fully optimized your digital presence for mobile.
  2. Starter Bridge You’ve literally just launched your start up, and having a promising biz model employing the power of one, you want a comprehensive digital profile but have no budget and bandwidth. But, if your startup is about developing mobile apps, then you really have no excuse. Right?

Here are a couple of posts with free tools and tips on how to make your site mobile. Remember: they say “you always get what you pay for” (apparently we all know who ‘they’ are).

No, going cheap is not for big fish

You have the team. You have the money. You have the resources.

You may be a fledgling start up who’s caught the eye of top investors, but your biz model is solid and designed to increase market share in various key geographies. Or you may actually even be an enterprise with in-house resources and smart people.

However, if you think you can treat mobile optimization as a pilot project, then you and your laurels are quietly awaiting disruption to take you down the path that leads to those two bridges.

  1. Research your market and audience: optimizing for mobile makes more sense if you know what your target market and audience prefer to do while connecting and accessing information via mobile. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
  2. Offer at least 1 useful function that benefits the user: your mobile site or app must be useful to your customer. Being mobile is all about being efficient. If there is functional benefit to your app (be it to entertain or to empower mobile functions) than it’s not really an app, is it?
  3. Rely on technical experts: the online collective is teeming with talented developers, designers of every field. Be they programmers, illustrators, animators or cartographers. Collaborate and partner with your creative and tech allies. Finesse and execute on your mobile road map with their help.

Is your company mobile? Has it matured in the mobile space or is it just about to cross that bridge?

Examining the value of paper.li dailies

After catching this tweet from Chris Brogan: “Who is actually READING all these dailies that you all put out? How are they impacting your efforts?” I was compelled to explore and blog about it.

It’s a valid question if not rhetorical.

What is paper.li?

Simply, per their site, “paper.li organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy-to-read newspaper style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag (hashtag).”

With the proliferation of ways to distribute and syndicate content, MarCom and other “socially influenced” professionals would do well to take a close look and determine if these dailies could be a tactical advantage to existing efforts, or if it’s just another noisemaker in the mix.

So I asked some of my Twitter follows who issue paper.li dailies for their thoughts.

Who is your target audience, why them?

@muchmor (Chris Toombes): Audience started off as just me. I saw the papers as a way to conveniently pull together in a neat summary important items from a particular list or stream. It enabled me to scan the paper for important items at a time best suited to my schedule at that particular time. Hashtags also work to some extent but often these are missed off of posts or more often than not many hashtags get used for the same item adding confusion. http://paper.li/muchmor

@franklyPM (Cola Richmond): I created the paper purely for my own needs so for a while didn’t promote it on Twitter… A few month’s ago I started a new job and I was so busy that I found it impossibe to dedicate any time to reading my Twitter feed. Aware that I was missing out on some good conversations I set about compiling a list of Twitter folk that specifically talk about things relevant to my work as a web project manager. Within half an hour of compiling my “WebPM” list on Twitter I had a daily paper that was interesting, useful, easy to scan and relevant to my work…My target audience is primarliy other web / digital project managers, but I am aware designers and developer are also reading it. http://paper.li/franklyPM/webpm

@AziVaziri (Azi Vaziri): I simply share the daily with followers who might be interested…No specific target audience. http://paper.li/azivaziri

Beyond enhancing brand visibility, what other leverage do these dailies offer; what types of results have you obtained?

@muchmor: Locally, I’ve seen an increase in people following me and re-tweeting the local paper I create and also seen others create they’re own sub-versions of the papers. I’ve also recently added the city paper to our magazine website and seen a lot of hits and had a few emails from mainly newcomers or future newcomers thanking me for adding a daily update of places they have settled in or thinking of settling to. Local news from real people is seen as a valuable resource for our readers.

@franklyPM: Project Management is a job that is seldom discussed in my industry and any information / conversations about the subject tend to get drowned out by the volume of content dedicated to web designers and developers. For this reason, I decided to make my WEBPM paper available to everyone and it’s now announced daily on my Twitter feed…I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people I’m following, and at least one person a day sends a “Cheers for the RT” or “Thanks for the shout out” because my daily paper is not only promoting my industry, but others in the profession too.

@AziVaziri: For the most part, the mentions in my daily have generated conversations with people I may not have easily connected with. It’s helped me make new connections.

If you were part of the team evolving this platform, what recommendations would you bring forward?

@muchmor: I’d like to see “white label” versions and maybe an RSS feed driven version and even an iPad version in the same vein as “flipboard”. I’d also like to see more control over it’s content and better stats and reporting.

@franklyPM: The one thing I’d really like to see on the next rollout would be stats. Without any analytics data in place, I can’t tell if anyone is reading the paper, how they found it or if it drives traffic to other sites. Paper.li! I hope you’re reading this – hint hint.

Effort, stats and ads

It’s interesting that Cola would pick up on a term from Brogan’s tweet that also made me wonder about what he appears to be implying. Cola adds, “the only qualm I have with Chris Brogan’s tweet is the word ‘effort’ – it involves 10 minutes of list management a week and the rest is automated. No effort at all, to be perfectly honest.”

Touché!

paper.li is designed to facilitate the dissemination of info not encumber you with additional work in your communications efforts. If it takes too long to get these out, then you’re either not using the site properly or Paper.li designed a poor product. I doubt it’s the latter.

Having the option to access metrics on readership, traffic, sentiment etc. is a clear item in the wish list for users. Also, I wonder if paper.li would entertain allowing users to create/customize ads, perhaps give them the ability to tweak hyperlocal to really showcase ads of companies/retailers/events within a discernible radius of their respective, immediate communities.

The value of Twitter’s clout

In my view, the fact that your Twitter follows configure their dailies to feature the content/news you tweet is testament to the value of Twitter’s clout.

I rarely watch the evening news these days as Twitter has practically become my real-time feed. That you would organize a daily of select tweets that read as cohesive, relevant news brings to light the power of virally driven information—information that are tweets!

So what’s preventing you from taking this model and applying it to say a targeted media campaign? You could easily scale and refine the content you choose to feature.

Still, Azi wonders,”..even before Brogan’s tweet, I’d been wondering if there’s real value in sharing the daily…I actually take a quick read through it in the mornings…and know that a few of my friends read through mine. I’m still undecided as to whether or not i’ll keep on sharing it.”

Do you issue these dailies? What has your experience been?

Unconferences: The New Black

For its first foray into an unconference the bright, energetic gang of @TorontoTalks [i.e., @abroadabroadeh (Linda), @mechristopher (Chris), @jschultz (Jeremy), @bryanperson (Bryan)] managed to ‘make it work’! (can you hear Tim Gunn’s voice?..n’er mind). That was last Sunday.

Morning brew
On my way to the Sheraton this morning, colleague, senior communications consultant and longstanding IABC member, Diane McElroy and I quickly shared our thoughts and overall impressions of the unconference.

I felt it went well, while she thought that “there could have been two or three  high level topics identified at the onset or a bit more guidance on how the break-out sessions worked, etc.”

It’s only natural to react to one’s first unconference experience that way, I suppose. Remember the old JAD sessions? Better yet, consider the brainstorming format..it has none! Streams of consciousness are what drive the outpouring and synthesis of ideas. Just ‘make it work’!

Karen Jovi and Chris SwanHow the Queen Mum helped
So I managed to cobble up an impromptu lunch with Chris, @Karenjovi and Jeremy at the Queen Mother’s Café – where the pad thai and quinoa essentially rock.

And we came up with some ideas to consider when planning for the next unconference(s) – yes, we believe there should be more:

  • ambiance is key – if at all possible, it would be helpful to have a clear idea (if not do a full live scoping) of the venue. Break-out sessions need to happen in comfortable, relaxed, intimate settings, where people feel less inhibited to talk and have face-to-face interactions with complete strangers.
  • prior confirmation of attendance – knowing how many will in fact attend the event will help determine how the ambiance factor will be addressed.
  • pre-voting on topic ideas – it is an UNconference so the idea is to not have a pre-organized format. However, it does help to take a pulse on people’s interests and perhaps determine say an overarching theme or number of related themes. This will certainly help spur more ideas.
  • discourage..er actually outright ban sales pitching – yeah, it happens. I wasn’t actually in a session where someone proceeded to do a full-on pitch of their services, but what do you do when you’re stuck on the wrong ferry boat, right? Apparently, Linda did a fab job directing the line of conversation to focus more on the topic versus the pitch.
  • employ a tool (software) – Chris and Jeremy toyed with the idea of using an app to facilitate unconferences. Guys, I neglected to write down the name of the app you mentioned, so please feel free to chime in here 😉 So the tech element needs to be quite evident and present in these sessions (e.g., live tweeting, live blogging, video, etc.) This was done quite nicely at the Sunday session actually. And we look forward to seeing the captures once the editing’s done. But I would really emphasize, in the very least, tweeting sessions out. Note-taking? Meh. That’s conference 1.0 haha
  • video capture the event and use as commercial – self-evident and sure to garner much interest. My all time fav tech blog ReadWriteWeb does an ab-fab job with unconferences. Here’s a taste of what they’re cooking up in NYC this Friday: http://www.eventbee.com/view/readwritewebrtw

To me the unconference IS the new black.  Conferences as we know it need a good refresh. Something more raw, organic and takes on a life of its own.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that unconferences are antithetical to conferences..it’s just a heck of a lot more spontaneous, creative and tangible..à la Derrida, deconstructionists and most of the postmodernist movement etc.

What do YOU think? If you attended  last Sudnay, I’m sure our hosts would appreciate some feedback 😉

Twitter Lists: courtesy, classification, trust

Following someone back on Twitter validates a two-way connection. It confirms mutual interest.

The rhetoric of courtesy
Everyone online is entitled to be selective with their follows. In fact, some of the most successful networking efforts are deliberate and executed with clear purpose.

So if someone follows you but you’re not sure if you want to follow back, what do you? Most people will likely do nothing because they’re not obligated to follow back.

But if you want them to know that you actually  find their twitter account interesting but you’re not quite prepared to follow their stream, should you care to let them know that?

The question’s meant to be rhetorical, but yes, I think so. And you could do so by listing them.

icon sourced from pazeinteractive.com

Classification versus influence
Twitter Lists allow you to group your follows according to the various categories (types) of follows you’ve created. Some argue that the number of instances in which you are listed reflects your scale of influence.

I respect certain aspects of that view, but have yet to see a clear explanation of how the metric is designed to show the correlation between number of instances listed and what “influence” is suppose to represent…I digress.

Your intent to tag someone under one of your lists demonstrates your interest in their request to follow you. You’ve not actually followed them back yet, but since you’ve actually bothered to ‘tag’ who they are, what they represent into your personal library of connections, it means you’ve acknowledged their presence. If they really want you to follow back, they should be able to tweet that intent and let  you know.

Trust—an organic build
Being selective on social networks is not an attitude; it’s actually a practical way of building a trusted group of connections with whom you want to interact, converse and form communities.

Tagging new follows (listing them) is an ideal way to organize your follows and show appreciation for someone’s interest in your online presence.

New follows always get me psyched. But I do tend to expect a level of interaction from them, be it random or planned online conversations through @’s or DM’s.  That’s like me saying, “Okay, now earn my trust and confirm the value and credibility of our connection.”  How else am I to get to know you?

How do you approach building your social network? What values do you personally bring that strengthen both your personal and professional brand?