Posts filed under ‘Quick Tips & Ideas’

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

12 Ways Social Media is Different than Traditional Mass Media

Social Frequency_symbolThe social web has changed the media communications landscape in a way much of the world has yet to fully understand.  Simply put, the social web has created almost a reverse flow in the traditional mass media world in which user-generated content and consumer activism is reaching more audiences than brand messaging.

Those businesses and organizations who refuse to begin charting a path toward collaborative and conversational social media communications models will eventually find their high-paid mass media messages generating a lonely echo on a faint frequencies.

Fear not my friends.  Below you will find a comparison of 11 ways in which social media is different than traditional mass media which will hopefully get those right brain neurons firing in a new direction.

1)  Traditional Mass Media is passive consumer participation, Social Media is active consumer participation.

2)  Traditional Mass Media is one-way “one-to-many” communication, Social Media is two-way “one-to-one” communication.

3)  Traditional Mass Media targets isolated consumersSocial Media connects consumers who generate conversations and content.

4)  Traditional Mass Media is message-driven, Social Media is conversation-driven.

5)  Traditional Mass Media is built around perceived brand control, Social Media is built around shared control and humanizing transparency.

6)  Traditional Mass Media consists of a limited set of targeted channels, Social Media consists of a conceivably unlimited number of targeted channels.

7)  Traditional Mass Media impressions are fleeting with awareness subsiding after date of publication/broadcast, Social Media conversations and content are lasting and continually discoverable via search engines.

8)  Traditional Mass Media is brand-driven, Social Media is service and consumer-driven.

9)  Traditional Mass Media has limited reach with increasing cost as reach expands, Social Media offers unlimited reach and micro-targeting while investment remains relatively constant.

10)  Traditional Mass Media is a financial investment in paid channels and creative, Social Media is a social investment in people, conversation and user-generated content.

11) Traditional Mass Media carries varying levels of credibility and authenticity, Social Media is conveys a stronger sense of credibility and authenticity.

12)  Traditional Mass Media is like night, Social Media is like day.

While the above picture has been painted with a broad brush and is far from complete, I believe the progression of social media to date has proven these thoughts to be fundamentally true and are becoming truer by the day.  What will be your next move?

September 30, 2009 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

7 Golden Rules for Engaging in Social Media Conversations

DSC_0033It happened in the solemn twilight hours of an otherwise typical weeknight.  The CEO of the International ACME Widget Association (IAWA) awoke helplessly from a deep sleep which was disrupted by a harrowing nightmare.  In the nightmare, the CEO received a distressed email from an IAWA Board Member with a link to a blog post which included a number of criticisms about IAWA’s statement of practice regarding widget engineering.  The panicked Board Member instructed the CEO to find a way to make the posting go away.  The CEO awoke in a cold sweat, but quickly realized that their association had no strategy or process for handling such a situation.

As associations, its time for us all to awaken to the reality we can no longer ignore the social media-based conversations which are taking place outside our organizational walls.  Even more, we must realize that every single conversation is an opportunity to cultivate insights, trends, engagement and relationships.

As you begin to assemble your social media strategy, below are 7 golden rules for engaging in social media conversations:

  1. Release yourself from the illusion that you can somehow control the conversation.
  2. Regularly monitor the social web and all major social media channels using your brand as a keyword search.
  3. Listen very carefully to what is being said with an open-mind as every  perspective is an opportunity to learn.
  4. When you discover an opportunity to engage, try to first reach out directly on a one-to-one level either through email or a direct message.
  5. When you reach out, know that conversations cultivate valued relationships.
  6. Focus on reaching a better understanding of praise and complaints alike while at the same time looking to create value in shaping a positive experience through the interaction.
  7. If a public response/comment is necessary, wait until after you’ve had a chance to engage in the one-on-one interaction.

Social Frequency_symbolNeed help developing your association’s social media strategy?  Social Frequency Media Communications can help your association join its future… already in progress.  Visit our website at or contact me directly at .

September 3, 2009 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

5 Ways to Get into the Flow of Social Media

DSC_0131Below are  5 ways to use social media to expand your organization’s sphere of engagement, interaction, particiaption and influence: 

1)  Develop a comprehensive relationship-focused social media strategy driven by the mission and strategy of your association.

2)  Conduct a social media audit to identify all groups and influencers within your association’s social sphere. 

3)  Engage regularly in social media monitoring, utilizing keyword-based search tools built into popular social media platforms or third party applications.

4)  Operationalize the use of social media as a business tool at levels of the organization.

5)  Be authentic, experiment, make connections, build relationships and cultivate brand ambassadors.

August 24, 2009 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

Quick Tip: Value vs. Motive in Social Media ROI Measurement

Association2020_Value v MotiveYou can ultimately achieve social media motives and measurable ROI by keeping the focus on generating value… and, most importantly, valuing the vital role and contribution of participants.  

As Susan Scott points out in her book, Fierce Conversations , the “conversation is the relationship.” 

Social media is an opportunity to make meaningful connections and build vital relationships by providing something of value and genuinely valuing user-generated participation.  Time and time again, I see all types of organizations make the mistake of simply using social media to sell themselves, which is the quickest way to get ignored.

Measuring value generation in it’s many forms is the first phase of your social media ROI equation.

July 30, 2009 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

Quick Tip: How to Navigate Complaints and Negativity on the Social Web

Social Frequency_symbolThe Truth about Complaints

Unless the person appears to be crazy, always see complaints via the social web as an opportunity to deepen the relationship.  Most people who complain do so because on some level they care and they want to be heard. 

How to Handle Legitimate Complaints

The key is to reach out one-on-one, thank them, listen… really listen, acknowledge, learn, identify mutual commonality, provide additional information which might provide clarification and thank them again. 

In doing so, you stand a chance to either neutralize the discontent or, even better, establish a relationship which could convert the individual to a promoter.  I’ve had experiences were the individual issuing the complaint added a retracting comment.  Additionally, once you’ve cleared the air, you can also provide a follow-up comment or post which clarifies any misunderstandings and reinforces your position.

Listening is perhaps the most powerful communication tool.

July 27, 2009 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Quick Tips and Ideas – The Role of Market Research and Data Analysis in Recession-Proofing Your Association

London Eye & PlaneDevelop “X-Ray” Vision through Market Research and Data Analysis 

Gather and maintain a 360 degree view of the direct and indirect opportunities and threats to your association by observing, measuring and monitoring trends and developments through market research and data analysis.

 Here are some actionable ideas to consider:

  •  Get into your member’s environment and shadow them regularly to see the world through their eyes and observe the spoken and unspoken behavioral truths.
  •  Conduct regular quarterly omnibus surveys with members to identify/track trends and developments.
  •  Monitor and track the social web regularly to identify trends, influencers, perspectives and groundswell. 
  •  Establish a “Membership Advisory Panel”.
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews employing the same questions until you begin to see patterns in responses.
  • Create an opportunity for meaningful participation through decision-based all member surveys… not forgetting to report the eventual data-driven action which is taken.
  • Conferences are a great gathering point for all types of members and a great place to conduct focus groups at minimal cost.
  • Conduct interviews with your conference exhibitors to explore additional insight into your member audiences.

Thoughts, questions or additions?  Share your comment below or contact me directly at

July 19, 2009 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

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