Daily Archives: April 18, 2013

The Quest for Blogging Inspiration

flickr_Tiago DanielAs an undergraduate in the Newhouse school’s print journalism track, I once received some great advice from the chair of the magazine journalism department, Professor Melissa Chessher. I sat with my classmates around the dinner-style table in the magazine lab room one day for a session of MAG 406: Magazine Article Writing, when she exclaimed  we should all be carrying an idea notebook everywhere we went. Better yet, we should regularly take clippings of articles, pictures, even phrases that we loved or wanted to follow up on, and that we should keep a binder of all those juicy tidbits closeby our writing desk. I’ve now received this advice twice – most recently, from blogger Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net, as part of our readings for CMGRClass.

Stay Motivated!

Rowse recommends keeping a journal of titles or phrases that could be made into blog posts someday, as a method of fending off the apathy which can set in when you’ve been blogging regularly for a long time. In addition, he suggests varying the kinds of stimuli bloggers turn to for information. Reading a book, subscribing to new sources of information and news, flicking through TV channels for relevant clips (whilst consciously resisting getting “sucked in” to the tube), and even taking a walk are methods I’ve found helpful before.  However, he adds that it can be helpful to start a content series, which sounds like it will become a second battle to keep up with. Still, whatever helps you chip away at the writer’s block!

Teamwork

Bringing community and conversation to your content stream sometimes sounds difficult, but many of this week’s readings address this concern. Whether it’s through recruiting bloggers and retaining them through a rotating editorial calendar (and showing how valuable they are by providing them tangible rewards), or involving the community by addressing questions, putting out a survey, sharing suggestions, or holding a competition/project (see “Meme it Up” in Rowse’s post) interactivity is the way to attract participation. Most importantly, interacting with people – other bloggers, professionals and fans within your niche can provide both the ideas, motivation, and support to achieve more on your blog. It’s as we discussed on Google+: get out, try the one-hour challenge to produce content quickly, and just write something – anything. Sometimes breaking through a writer’s dry spell is as simple as deviating from your personal norm.

The Similarities Between an Online Community and Non-Profit Development

Most of the examples provided to us in the books that we are reading for #CMGRclass showcase for profit businesses.  Since I work in Higher Education, I’m trying to figure out ways to translate those examples to be helpful for non-profits.

buzzing communitiesIn Buzzing Communities, Richard Millington writes, “For non-profit organizations, a community may often serve no other purpose than to directly support the organizations mission”(Millington, page 214). Although this is often true, I believe social media and online communities can also be directly related to donor dollars for non-profit organizations.

After reading Chapter 5: Influence and Relationships, the similarity between growing a successful online community and non-profit development really stood out to me. Receiving donations is based around the relationship a person has with a certain institution, organization or cause. The job of a development officer is not only to develop new relationships, but to also maintain them, so that they do not fade away, and as a result, the donations don’t fade with it.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 11.43.54 AMIn this chapter, Millington does a good job explaining how to build, maintain and strengthen relationships. Topics he covers include: relationship criteria, building insider groups, volunteers, and recognition. However, the information is not new; non-profit organizations have been using these tactics for off-line relationship building for years. It is almost as though non-profits have done what Millington has done with online communities reversed. Non-profits develop relationships off-line first, and then organize an online community to grow those relationships and continue the conversation.

donate now buttonsWith my experience in Higher Education,  it appears as though some non-profits are struggling to find successful ways to cultivate online relationships and having a hard time proving that they are aiding in bringing in donations. But just because a relationship is formed online, it does not make it any less powerful than an in-person relationship and should be treated equal.

This is the list of relationships criteria that Millington lays out in his book. Your online community will most likely be with members who fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • High levels of activity
  • High levels of expertise or passion for the topic
  • Distinctive contributions
  • Interesting real-life positions
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Great contacts
  • Strategic fit

This is the same exact list that a development officer would use when forming in-person relationships with potential donors. Cultivating people online is really no different.

Do you work for a non-profit organization? Do you find community building to be beneficial to your non-profit’s financial goals? I’d love to hear!

Disclaimer: I encourage online relationships to turn into in-person ones. Social media is a tool to make relationships stronger, but does not replace the importance of in-person relationships.

Satisfied Isn’t Enough – Turn Happy Customers Into Ambassadors

The Internet can sometimes be a negative place, and social media is by no means an exception. I know I’ve noticed far more complaints in my social feed than I’ve seen unsolicited praise, especially for brands, products, or services. The Internet can be a bit of an echo chamber, so when somebody says something negative, like “Apple Maps steered me into the Atlantic!,” others will eagerly chime in with their horror stories. The problem is that it doesn’t always work in reverse; after all, an unhappy customer wants somebody to fix the problem, whereas a happy customer may not have anything they want to say. Therefore, satisfied isn’t enough anymore, and you need to figure out how to empower your happy customers to speak up and advocate your brand.

Blog12_ThumbsUp

A good starting point is to identify influential customers you have. They may have already mentioned you, which is a great start. In my own social accounts, I rarely talk about products, but when I’m happy with a brand I’ll go out of my way to recommend them given the proper context. One big example for me is Baratza, a manufacturer of home coffee grinders. Whenever the subject comes up and my input is welcome, I’ll name-drop them to make sure they’re represented. I love their business, their products, and most of all, their customer service. If they had an ambassador program, you can bet I’d be in line for the opportunity. Chances are your brand has people like me who would jump at the chance to help you out.

This brings up another key element of a good ambassador – they have to be passionate, and to a certain extent, loyal to your brand. “Fanboys” and –girls can be overly pushy and annoying, so they’re not always the people you’re looking for, but those who would consider your brand first in your industry are the ones who will be the best performers as ambassadors. Britt Michaelian writes that loyalty comes from a sense of connection, especially when a community is built for each member to have an important role. The more they love your company, the more they’ll want to spread the word.

He may be loyal, but is he a good spokesperson?

He may be loyal, but is he a good spokesperson?

The final key point I’d like to make is that ambassadors aren’t free. As Mack Collier notes in this week’s reading, you need to make it worth their while. They already love your company, but to help them help you, you need to offer them a bit more for their efforts. Empowering them with the tools and resources, such as exclusive membership to an ambassador community, is one thing, but actual compensation is often a must. Ambassadors don’t need to be paid monetarily per se, but other options, like discounts, “swag,” access to events or figureheads in your company, are all options to be considered. Ambassadors have a different relationship with your brand than customers, so they need to be treated a bit differently and rewarded for their efforts. Essentially, if you reward them for their hard work and loyalty, they will reward you in kind. And most of all, don’t forget to thank them!

How do you turn your most vocal supporters into ambassadors?