Posts filed under ‘Innovation’

5 Reasons Associations are Hardwired for Web TV Success – A Glimpse into the Future of Association TV

By StuarSM_12-4-12_edited-2t Meyer

As a primer for this article, I encourage you to watch the short two-minute video below which gives you a glimpse into the future of association TV.

If CNN, NBC or ABC walked into your office today and said they want you to create a compelling TV channel around your association, what would it look like?  What types of programs would you find there?

How about that, you’re already thinking beyond YouTube.

In my years as an association executive, TV coverage in any form was always the highly sought-after pinnacle of our public relations strategies.  From satellite media tours to opening up dialogue with producers of the Showtime original series Nurse Jackie, I experienced the full spectrum.

The challenge of achieving TV coverage always resided in the fact that coverage was scarce, short-lived, imprecise in reaching your target audiences and usually fairly expensive to capture the attention of networks.  When we did finally line up media coverage it was usually limited to research or governmental affairs objectives.

I’ve always envisioned the infinite possibilities presented by a scenario in which associations had their own TV network comprised of targeted channels and programming content.  If we can’t get members and stakeholders to our association in person, it would be the next best thing.

Why?  Simply put, compelling TV and film takes you there with minimal effort required.  As producers, we serve as your guides on that journey and ensure we make stops at all the key story points along the way.  Soon, you’re forming bonds and relationships with these subjects on the screen who have welcomed you into their lives.

The mistake so many associations have made when it comes to video strategy is the mistaken belief that anyone who has a camera in their hands is a producer.  I believe a camera is like an instrument and producing compelling video-based media storytelling, not to mention episodic series and feature-length programming, is an art.  Just because one goes to the art store to buy a canvass, paints and brushes does not mean they are about to paint a masterpiece.

Fear not, it’s all a part of or the evolutionary media and communications continuum.  As for association TV networks, the opportunity is already here thanks in part to high-speed internet streaming distribution, mobility, audience behavior, incredibly robust video platforms, an abundance of creative talent and a big reduction in the cost of the technologies and equipment required to produce high quality programming.

Chances are your association is more prepared than you think.  Here’s five reasons why:

1) BUILT-IN START-UP AUDIENCE:  Associations already have a base membership which provides an audience foundation to build open, which ultimately can reach well beyond the walls of the organization.

2) SPONSORS:  Associations already have sponsors who provide financial support in exchange for positioning, promotional and other opportunities to be aligned with the organization and its members.  These same sponsors become a funding basis for web TV network and programming efforts.

3)  STORIES & CONTENT:  From member stories and public figures to an abundance of educational, research and networking-oriented content, associations have the building blocks for web TV content and programming.

4)  EXISTING COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE:  Marketing and promotion is a significant key to success in the TV and film industry.  Associations already have the marketing, communications, publishing and PR infrastructure to ensure it’s TV network reaches members on all levels through both promotion and integrated TV content within existing communication vehicles.

5)  A VITAL NEED TO FIND NEW WAYS TO DEEPEN ENGAGEMENT & SENTIMENT: 
Never has there been a time when it was more important for associations to elevate its visibility in creative and compelling new ways.  Today, we live in a literal ocean of information, networking options and subject-matter “authorities”.  The key to the future of associations it finding ways to rise above the noise and web TV is that vehicle.

Start the dialogue today, plan a board education session, initiate creative planning… do whatever you can to take the next step.

With 14 years of association experience matched by a lifetime of creativity in music and film, Stuart Meyer is President and Founder of Social Frequency Media Communications.  He can be reached by clicking here

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January 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

Ad Hoc Learning – 7 Trends Pushing the Popularity of Simplified Web Video-Based Education and Learning in Associations

by Stuart Meyer

Learn as if you were to live forever”.  Ghandi

SM_12-4-12_edited-1A few years ago, I served as a contributing author and speaker on ASAE’s Decision to Volunteer research project and publication where we popularized the term “ad hoc volunteer”.  An ad hoc volunteer is one who engages in a single-task volunteer assignment as opposed to a volunteer serving a formal long-term commitment on a committee or project team.  While we uncovered the opportunities presented by ad hoc volunteer roles, including increasing levels of loyalty and personal investment, we also learned that the formal governance structure of associations needed to become better equipped to leverage the potential of ad hoc volunteers.

Today, we’re learning the desire for ad hoc association participation is not limited to volunteerism.  In simplified terms, “ad hoc participation” from a member perspective means I don’t presently have the time for formal participation but desire opportunities for informal participation as time and interest warrants.  Further transposed to the evolving media world around us, it could be characterized as the “I want what I want when I want it and how I want it” trend.

The notion of “ad hoc learning” is certainly not a new concept as just about every conference pre/post evaluation survey and focus group I’ve conducted over the years always highlights the transforming experience and value of peer-to-peer informal learning and education-based networking… that “aha” moment when we’re standing at a conference during a break having a substantive conversation with another attendee and suddenly the “light bulb” finally goes on and our professional plight feels a little less lonely.

The opportunity for associations is determining how to satisfy this “everything-on-demand” generation of customers/members as a bridge to strengthening value, engagement, brand sentiment, loyalty and deepening levels of involvement.  The question is… will we continue to make them come to us or will we find better ways to go to them.

As we look out upon current trends, the notion of learning and how we gather the information we need, it’s certainly far from a news flash that much has changed over the past 10-20 years.  The key opportunity and strategy I see each and every day in my work is to simplify learning and access to learning as much as possible as an “everyday learning” compliment to our more formal means of web-based learning.

Let’s take a look 7 key trends driving our associations toward the demand for on-demand video-based ad hoc learning.

1) Video vs. Text Preferences

In 2010, Forbes shared a series of findings relating to web-based video.  According to their data, 59% of senior executives prefer to watch a video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page.  80% are watching more online video today than they were a year ago. Finally, more than half of senior executives share videos with colleagues at least weekly and receive work-related videos as often.  From a consumer standpoint, in 2012 Retail Touchpoints reported that consumers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who did not.  Whether using informal video-based learning as a compliment to text articles or the other way around, the opportunity to deepen the experience and sharing is clear.

2) Mobile Technology and Rise in Screen Time

The explosion of mobile smartphones and tablet devices continue to require us to determine how we optimize our content/product/information/services to best suit life on a mobile device screen and situational consumption patterns.  Google has suggested that within the next couple of years, nearly 90% of web traffic will be video-based mainly due to the rise of mobile technology.  Single topic video-based ad hoc learning lends itself to the mobile experience.

3)  TEDtalks

TED, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is non-profit organization driven by a global grassroots movement to advance “ideas worth sharing”.  A major component of TED is their online video TEDtalk series which are typically highly topic-focused presentations delivered during TEDx events which take place all over the world.  In a nutshell, TED has conditioned us toward ad hoc web video-based learning and over the past year my company, Social Frequency Media Communications, has worked with a number of clients in producing TED-style web video series as a form of simplified ad hoc learning… ranging from virtual speaker showcases to multi-episode topic-driven video series.

4)  Time… or the Lack Thereof

Dr. James McQuivey, Vice-President of Forrester Research, has been quoted as saying “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”.  Produced properly, video is a simple yet powerful form of communication that is more like a sit-back form of entertainment as opposed to a sit-forward mental activity.  Where once we were only “connected” if we were sitting in front of a PC, today we are continuously connected to our devices and, increasingly, through web-enabled smart TVs.

5)  Every other aspect of your customers/members lives

Your association’s customers/members live in a world of on-demand instant gratification options and your competition is every other form of streaming media, including Netflix and Hulu.  The difference between today’s online association video practices and the early days of low-viewership poor quality flip cam video is strategy, quality, marketing and distribution.  A simple eye-opening exercise is to compare your current lineup of YouTube videos side-by-side with your glossy association magazine and ask yourself if there is an equitable commitment/investment in production quality.  When it comes to our magazines, webinars, conferences and annual meetings we leave very little to chance in terms of production, marketing and promotion.  It’s time for associations to invest the same amount of energy in web video broadcast practices as poor quality cheapens both brand and credibility where high quality serves the strengthen brand and credibility.

6)  Rise of Niche, the Decline of Linear

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, advances the notion that “The niche is now king, and the entertainment industry – from music to movies to TV – will never be the same.”  Let’s face it, if your association’s video-based learning strategy isn’t generating series of content focusing on every possible niche topic within your profession the reality is someone else will do so.  The opportunity is great with the main risk being inaction.   Further, instead of producing a single linear 45 minute learning-based video, break it up into more “bite-size” narrow topics and present a series of shorter, more focused videos given the viewer the option to view everything or to focus only on the topics most relevant to them.  Additionally, putting the viewer in control of what they watch can also increase additional views and sharing.

7)  The Opportunity of Portability

When it comes to our association publications, we’ve always dreamed of the “viral” scenario in which each issue is carefully routed around the office getting in front of as many people as possible.  Today, online video is portable not only in the sense we can take it anywhere we go via mobile technologies but the url-based format simplifies online portability in our ability to easily share video with others either through email, text or social channels.  If video-based learning content is locked down in an LMS or only available via a live webinar, a big portion of the opportunity is lost.  For this reason, its important to treat your ad hoc video-based learning strategy as a compliment to your other formal education programming.

So there you have it, a look at the evolution and trends surrounding web video-based ad hoc learning within associations as a means to strengthening value, engagement and brand sentiment.  To see an example of what it looks like, click here to see a 4-part AAO-HNS web series which was produced by Social Frequency Media Communications.

Stuart Meyer is President and Founder of Social Frequency Media Communications, a turnkey new media innovation and production company with 12 years of association management experience dedicated to helping associations develop, integrate, produce and manage a strong web TV broadcast network and presence.  He can be reached at stuart(at)socialfrequency(DOT)net

June 26, 2013 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

“Lights! Cameras! Interaction! 5 Internet TV Strategies for a New Era of Member Engagement

Imagine your association or trade organization having its own television network full of “must-see” original series-based and niche programming which draws in a loyal audience of members, non-members and relevant stakeholders.  It begins with great storytelling.

Good storytelling is like a “window”, but great storytelling serves as both a “window” and “mirror” reflection upon your audience’s own experiences, interests and core values.  Good stories appeal to us on a rational level but great storytelling reaches the heart and soul which leaves us feeling a stronger connection and “kinship” with the story, its subjects and origin.

Despite these truths, as membership professionals we’ve spent years doing our best working within the limitations of the communications channels and platforms we’ve had at our disposal in our attempt to engage members in our messaging, stories and networking.

While video is considered to be the most effective multi-sensory form of communication, it has largely been out-of-reach for most of us until the recent evolution of web video.  Despite growing access to web broadcast channels and video platforms, one might conclude that our industry’s approach to video strategy has been somewhat primitive at best.

In the end, it’s not the format of video itself that creates a compelling story-driven experience, but rather the way in which we utilize video as a tool to tell powerful series-driven stories which create that ongoing “window” and “mirror” reflection that strengthens the way members identify and engage our associations.

Interactive internet TV technology is gaining steam and when you consider the reach of internet-based video across living room TV screens, computer screens, tablets and mobile phones, the opportunity becomes clearer.  However, it’s going to take more than a couple of flip cams to get on the right track toward producing the right series and programming.  Below are some strategies to help you get started:

1)  Develop Channel Segments: Just as we define membership segments, it is equally important to define the key audiences you would like to reach.  Audience segmentation can help you not only plan the most relevant series/episodic content but also help you prioritize creative development.

2)  Interactive Video Platforms and Tools: There are more options out there than you might think.  Emerging technologies, such as Coincident TV, are providing an early glimpse into the full potential of truly interactive internet-based TV.  This technology converts passive viewers into fully engaged active participants who are in control of the viewing experience.  This type of video technology is hardwired for social networking and enables the producer to create behavior-prompting “cue points” during the video which to convert compelling “moments” into actions.   Click here to consider the possibilities.

3) Story Format and Series Planning: We live in the age of reality-style TV, which is essentially a documentary-style form of storytelling.  Immersing audiences into the center of a story in an authentic way is not only compelling, but also a far less expensive form of production than “staged” programming.  Consider the prospect of following a member/s over multiple episodes, entering into their daily life and experiences.  The premise of the series should be rooted in the key messages, themes and goals your associations seeks to convey, only your messengers are real members telling/living real and relatable stories.

4)  Sponsor-Integrated Programming: The need to generate non-dues revenue is a trend that will likely not go away anytime soon.  Sponsors seek to create a close strategic alignment/relationship with your members.  The challenge is granting sponsors the level of integration they desire while at the same avoiding disruption and value-detraction.  Interactive original internet-based video programming offers the creative possibility of incorporating sponsors as meaningful story elements incorporating the CTV style of capabilities above.  Perhaps the best news of all, original series-based programming is not only a great vehicle for sponsors but also an excellent means by which to underwrite production costs.       

5)  Leveraging Series Stars as Association Surrogates: The cascading benefit of an effective internet TV strategy is you are creating an air of “celebrity” around the “stars” you feature as part of your series-based programming.  These association “celebrities” can become amazing surrogates and spokespersons for your association at a number of key levels.  Looking for an example, watch this example which contributed a spike in membership for the Emergency Nurses Association.

Need more examples to jumpstart your storytelling, take a look at these soon-to-be-released non-profit examples from America’s Chefs and The Exchange Club .

In the end, as you develop your internet TV strategy always keep in mind you are building a deeper and broader level of engagement with your members.

April 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm 2 comments

Social Media – From Trend to Standard Association Business Practice

Having returned from the 2010 ASAE Annual Meeting last week, all I can say is it has been a fascinating year in the slow evolution of the social web’s impact on association business practice.  I can also say  there are many more miles to travel before associations secure a strong future with their audiences.

Perhaps the most interesting development I’ve seen is the way some of the trendy social media hipsters are starting to lose a bit of interest, which can only mean that we may finally be moving toward the integration of social media strategy into the standard association business model, strategy and operations… but we aren’t quite there yet.

I admire all of the cutting-edge early adopter personalities out there as they are the ones who help push everyone else through the gravitational pull of the association atmosphere to get us all to the point where we can shift our focus to analyze how the business trends of social media are reshaping our world.

Where do we go from here and what does 2011 have in store for us?  My recommendation for you is a series of board and executive management sessions in your association geared toward educational and planning so the business impact and opportunity of social media can, once and for all, be understood and advanced.

In doing so, we move the conversation from the delegation of social media responsibility to the new part-time college graduate hire over in marketing/communications to the place where all strategic business issues are discussed and planned… the Board Room.

As the saying goes, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.  Now, let’s get out there and build a strong future for associations.

September 1, 2010 at 9:46 am Leave a comment

What Social Media Means to Associations – Beyond Mere Facebook Pages and Twitter Accounts

I’ve recently had the wonderful opportunity to deliver presentations to a variety of individuals and organisations regarding how social media is already transforming the future of associations.  Through these experiences, I’ve listened carefully to fears, perceptions and admirable admissions of a lack of functional understanding relating to what social media means to associations.

I also hear allot about Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, as if that is somehow enough to leverage the potential of the social web.  The reality is social media is more than a communication channel, rather it is a one-to-one and one-to-many conversation and relationship-building tool.  The same types of conversations and relationships we have been engaging in with current and prospective members for years.  It’s also a business strategy, just like other vital aspects of organizational operations provided it is already acceptable for staff to answer the phone and handle attendee questions at conferences.

Simply put:

The social web is an opportunity to expand your association sphere by listening, connecting, engaging and building vital relationships which expands your association sphere.

Why is this important?  Because conversations and relationships are what led to the creation of associations in the first place.  Further, social cohesion is the glue which holds together and propels our organizations.

A member’s commitment to an association is measured by the extent to which they feel a connected part of the organization.  The way members connect to an association is through some form of engagement or participation.  Before the social web, it required a greater sacrifice and investment to participate (planes, trains and automobiles), but today the social web provides an inexhaustible opportunity to connect and participate.

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.  The social web is simply a smarter tool with which we can adapt and greatly expand our mission.  With the right organizational foundation, we can all be ready when Facebook inevitably becomes tomorrow’s MySpace.  While the platforms will continue to change, the “rules” will always remain the same.

I designed the cluster symbol above to demonstrate the way in which a like-minded group of people bond together to form an association.  Clusters form within associations to initiate new projects and components.  Today, new clusters are forming outside the walls of your association, in almost every case not to replace you but to give rise to issues and concerns facing a trade or profession.  As associations, our goal is to reach out and create new bonds with individuals and groups working in support of our interests.  This symbol is also the official symbol of my new consulting practice, Social Frequency Media, which I started out of a deep desire to help associations transform their futures and leverage the potential of social media.  I hope you will find the above information and other postings here at Association 2020 useful.  SM

December 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm 3 comments

FTC Guides Suggest Social Media Policies and Procedures Might Reduce Liability Risks

100_2987At the onset of this post, I want to be very clear that I am not intending to send fear coursing through the veins of senior management nor should this be construed as a “let’s all find another reason to fear social media”.

Quite conversely, part of leveraging a strong social media business strategy is ensuring the appropriate operational controls are in place.  Policies, standardized practices and process are a responsible part of any business strategy and the business strategy of social media should be no exception.

This week, potential liability regarding the use of social media hit home as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.  Essentially, the new guides will work to ensure a higher level of honesty and transparency in the use of the social web for the purpose of marketing in terms of “pay to say” disclosure and factual representations.

Though I am not  a lawyer (nor have I ever played one on TV) and always encourage consultation with legal counsel, I did read through the 81 page FTC document yesterday and came across an important consideration which I don’t believe has been adequately highlighted.  That consideration is the liability an employer faces for the actions of employees engaging in social media activities either within or outside the scope of their work responsibilities.   The FTC addresses this scenario in response to a question which appears to have arisen during an open comment period relating to employer liability.  Below is a verbatim excerpt from the FTC’s response:

“…although the Commission has brought law enforcement actions against companies whose failure to establish or maintain appropriate internal procedures resulted in consumer injury, it is not aware of any instance in which an enforcement action was brought against a company for the actions of a single “rogue” employee who violated established company policy that adequately covered the conduct in question…  The Commission does not believe, however, that it needs to spell out the procedures that companies should put in place to monitor compliance with the principles set forth in the Guides; these are appropriate subjects for advertisers to determine for themselves, because they have the best knowledge of their business practices, and thus of the processes that would best fulfill their responsibilities.” see page 48 of the complete FTC document for full text

What this means is it is time to create social media policies and practices within your organization which carefully balance innovative business uses of social media with clear lines drawn on unacceptable practices.

While it is my intention to use my Association 2020 blog to add value to our community rather than endlessly promote my consulting practice, Social Frequency Media Communications, this is one instance where I want everyone to know that social media internal policy and procedure development is a core part of my services.  Click here to learn more about Social Frequency Media Communications or feel free to contact me directly at stuart@socialfrequency.net.

October 9, 2009 at 10:24 am Leave a comment

The Root of Powerful Social Media Strategy

What makes social media technology powerful?  One might be quick to conclude that the power is rooted in the social media applications themselves.  After all, the mass-user applications provide the platform which enables interaction to take place on multiple levels. 

However, I believe the true power of social media is in the minds of its users.   I’ll say it again, I believe the true power of social media is in the minds of its users.

If you look across the spectrum at how these tools are being utilized you will find a degree of unimaginable inventiveness.  For example, consider the manner in which crowdsourcing and mobcasting is being used today by highly reputable traditional media sources (for an example, click here , but don’t forget to return). 

From the “technopreneur” world of open source code to the world of the ingenious end user, powerful and unexpected things can happen when people and organizations open their minds to experimenting and exploring new ways to leverage social technology.  In my mind, the future belongs to those associations who view the social web as an exciting laboratory as opposed to a threatful fad.   

As Clay Shirky put it during Digital Now 2009, “The conversation is the value”.   As I see it, when many conversations interconnect and join together they form one strong voice.  When motivated people feel a powerful and personalized bond with an organization, amazing things will happen.  Isn’t that how associations emerged in the first place?  

We must move beyond the myth that, as associations, we somehow “control” the conversation to engage and invest in the evolving world of social media… not as mere communication tools, but as a fundamental part of  association mission and strategy. 

As I like to put it, we may now join our regularly scheduled future… already in progress.

April 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

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