Posts filed under ‘Web 2.0 and Beyond’

“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.

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April 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm 2 comments

Shifting Social Media Business Strategy from “What” to “Why” and “How”

Last week I delivered a presentation in Chicago outlining the generalized steps for developing a social media business strategy to a wonderfully engaged audience of around 80.  In connecting one-on-one with a number of those in attendance prior to the start of the session, my perspective is further reinforced that most organizations are generally trapped inside the rapid reaction phase of social media strategy, which often fails to take into consideration the true opportunity presented by the social web.

Many are treating the social web with a “gold rush” mentality which as I’ve written before very much feels reminiscent of the dot.com rush and bust of the late 90s.  I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that true social web strategy in my estimation is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme, rather it is an investment of time and disciplined business planning like any new business strategy.

Want a shortcut to getting on the right track in the development and implementation of social media business strategy?  My advice is to focus/refocus your thinking away from “what do we do?” mentality toward the better questions of “why” you are engaging in social media in the first place and “how” social media will help you advance the mission, vision and goals of our business.

While this sounds overly simplistic at first glance, the difference between the “what”-focused approach compared to the “why/how”-focused approach could be the difference between success and disaster.  In other words, the question you must ask yourself is whether you are rushing a series of half-thought tactics into the marketplace full of uncertainty OR are you investing in a solid business planning process unique to your organization geared toward evolving and advancing your business mission in an effort to adapt to the opportunities and realities of this new business environment.

Remember, the true successful practice of eCommerce emerged as a disciplined long-term business strategy in the aftermath of the dot.com craze which produced countless business models which have succeeded for new and existing business enterprise.  I predict the same will hold true for web 2.0 and social media in that once the smoke clears from the craze and “snake-oil” presently saturating the air, we will find that those who succeed in tapping into the social web did so through a deep understanding of the psychology behind social media participation as it relates to their business and the development/execution of a well-conceived creative business plan which is integrated within the overall business model of the organization.

December 21, 2009 at 6:23 am 1 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

FTC – Bloggers Liable for Endorsements and Misleading or Unsubstantiated Representations

The Federal Trade Commission this week released new Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  Since I am a strong and vehement advocate for authentic and genuine participation/interaction on the social web, allow me to provide my spin on how we might simplify our understanding of the 81 page FTC document:

  • If you get PAID to SAY, then you must SAY you got PAID.
  • If you CLAIM RESULTS, it better be TRUE.

Here is a verbatim breakdown of the FTC Office of Public Affairs release (10/5/09) as it relates to bloggers:

1)  The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.

2)  The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

3)   A  paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Let’s all work to preserve the integrity in the appropriate use of social media, within which resides immense possibilities for a more meaningful world.  Since I’m not a lawyer, I encourage you to consult a lawyer or legal counsel for advice or a complete interpretation of the  complete 81 pages of text.

October 8, 2009 at 2:27 pm 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 www.socialfrequency.net or contact me directly at stuart@socialfrequency.net .

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

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