Monday, December 31, 2012

3 Ways Associations Can Live Dangerously in 2013

What if 2013 was the year of living dangerously for associations? What kind of changes would we see?

Fear is such a pain. It saps our energy; develops more of the same old thing. Fear creates doubt in the place of excitement. Fear sucks. 

And yet, when we drill down into why many decisions are made the way they are in organizations, we find fear at the root. Or the budget. But the budget only reflects priorities, so we're back to fear and why it kills in the most uninteresting ways imaginable. 

Fear in associations creates decision making that kills by boredom, repetition, and a disregard for changing societal landscapes. 

So what if we lost our ability to fear for a year? 

1. Experimenting With The Membership Model: A new pricing structure...the Freemium model...a new membership type...virtual membership... what options are you offering your members? Do you have several ways your members could get and stay involved with your organization. In a year of living dangerously an association would try something new with their membership model. What do you think? Are you ready for a new Blogger/Social Media Ambassador Membership type? What would the requirements for that member be? What would they receive in return? 

2. Identifying Better (READ: Kick Ass) Member Benefits: Is your magazine worth it to me to be a member? Do you have varying levels of benefits I could choose from at different price levels? Do I have options as a member for each level of membership? Does your organization provide me with ways I can easily BUY MORE ENGAGEMENT? Identifying some smart member benefits for on-boarding new members and thrilling existing members would fit in well in a year of living dangerously for associations.

3. Taking a Deeper Look At The Annual Meeting: Do you need it? Is it what it should be? Could there be a dramatic overhaul that refreshes the Annual Meeting? What if you invested more? Invested less? What would the most ideal Annual Meeting look like for attendees? Start from scratch. What could you do instead of an Annual Meeting? Several events? Should your Annual Meeting take place with a different format? What if you had to do it without a budget? What if you had all the money you needed? Associations who were taking up the mantle to live dangerously would take a chance with their Annual Meetings recognizing they could have a huge impact be doing more than allowing for small "tweaks" to their meeting. 

Happy New Year's Eve! What do you think? What else would associations do in a year of living dangerously?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Non-Negotiable Time

Are you tired of the rat race and sick to death of your job and everything about it ESPECIALLY as we approach 2013? Fierce guru for women entrepreneurs, Marie Forleo, talks about her NNT (non-negotiable time) that she uses to avoid burnout and it really got me thinking. The holidays tend to overwhelm many of us (I am no exception) and so any ideas of ways to combat fatigue catch my attention. Forleo's NNT topic actually got me thinking so much that I took this idea of NNT over to my new community, Amplified Growth: A Group For Women Entrepreneur's so I could get their feedback.

So what's NNT all about? NNT consists of things you do for yourself on a daily basis to keep you on an even keel, avoid burnout, and maybe even help to inspire you along the way. Writing in a journal, prayer, meditation, a walk around the block, a coffee break, or even a daily retreat into a broom closet for 15 minutes of quiet time can count. The point is, it is non-negotiable so it is something you give yourself every day to keep you going. 

What three things do you do on a daily basis to keep you positive and forward moving as opposed to swampy and burned out?

I thought about this question and realized I had no good NNT plan in place! So I decided to test out a new one to see how it would impact my productivity and how it would make me feel about my work (and myself) at the end of the day. Here is what I'm testing out:

KiKi's NNT Plan
1. Each day list 3 brags, 3 gratitudes, and 3 desires I have. 
2. Incorporate green juice into every day for a boost of nutrients and energy.
3. Schedule 2 dance breaks (mid-morning and mid-afternoon) to boost my energy, metabolism, and happiness. I actually scheduled these on my calendar. The rule is I must dance to at least ONE full song before getting back to work. (I'm starting to keep track of my dance breaks and green juice on this blog, as well.)

What does your NNT look like, or do you need to create your own NNT plan? Please share below in the comments. 

Dance break #1 today was Maroon 5's "One More Night" - enjoy. ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saying Thanks to Your Members

We had a fabulous discussion about gratitude yesterday on Association Chat and if you missed it, you are probably kicking yourself. But never fear! The whole convo was captured using Storify and you can feel like you were actually there by visiting the post on "Saying Thanks to Members" -- I promise you, you'll get at least one good idea on showing your members gratitude if you take the time to look through the commentary.

If you are a reader located in the United States, have a great Thanksgiving! If you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, just know that I am thankful for your readership. This has been a great year for me and for my business, Amplified Growth, and I can't thank everyone enough for their support. Now go find someone you should thank and report back on the results!

Gobble gobble!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Interview With Julie Cottineau of BrandTwist (Part 1)

Julie Cottineau is the founder of BrandTwist. Before starting her own company, she was vice president of Brand Virgin USA, overseeing branding strategy for new Virgin companies in North America, as well as providing strategic brand support for the established Virgin businesses. She also lectures at Columbia University.

She’s also speaking at BizBash New York IdeaFest and I had the amazing opportunity to talk with her about entrepreneurship, branding, and how she’s learned to stand out from the crowd.

KiKi: Your talk at IdeaFest is, “Making the Brand Permeate the Event: Lessons from Great Brands” – Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Julie: Actually, it's going to be part talk and A LOT of interaction. I'm speaking at lunchtime and it's going to have an activity so everyone can get involved. I'm going to talk first about what really makes a great brand and to me part of what makes a great brand is a brand that tells a great story. And great brands, like when I used to work at Virgin, you see them telling their story at every single touchpoint. Not just with the advertising, but they tell it in the way the product is designed, the way the people that work there act, little touches - like all through the airplane, for example - little unexpected things. So I'm going to talk about those lessons and then ask the crowd to play along with me and innovate on their own brand and on their own events.

At this point in the interview I noticed that Julie's background, her wall color, matched with the color in her logo and tied in with her scarf. I mentioned this to Julie and she beamed. I'd stumbled on to her living her words...the color was part of her brand. Part of what makes her brand different from that of other consultants. Julie's personality matches this vivid color. Julie explained to me that "BrandTwist is all about passion."

KiKi: Events like IdeaFest can be amazing opportunities for networking and forging new strategic relationships. Are there any associations or online groups that have helped you or that you encourage entrepreneurs to join?

Julie: I find that a lot of the networking that I do is still pretty organic and person-to-person. I'm constantly meeting people, entrepreneurs, and saying, "Oh, I just talked to someone who had that exact same issue, maybe you should talk to them." That's great because it's a personal touch, but it can be really inefficient, especially when you're meeting hundreds of people. I'm actually right now launching something called BrandSchool and BrandSchool is an online course for entrepreneurs. It's an eight-week program that takes you through everything from who you should target, what you should promise, how you can use your personal brand like we just talked about, how you should support your professional brand, how you should use social media, and one of the things that I built into BrandSchool is a community page. When you sign up for the BrandSchool class, you'll learn from me, but I think more importantly you'll learn from other students in BrandSchool. You'll be able to talk with them, comment on each other's homework, talk about each other's brand ideas and my hope is that it will become a strong community.

Watch out for Part 2 of my interview with Julie Cottineau!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social Media and Disaster: Hospitals On Facebook

It was the scariest day of my life. I was settled in on the couch with my husband and daughter enjoying our Sunday evening when my phone rang.

Giving it a quick look, I saw it was my cousin Sarah calling from Texas. I'd never in all my 30+ years received a call from her. Something must be wrong.


"Hi, KiKi? It's your cousin need to turn on the Weather Channel right now. Joplin's just been hit by a tornado and it was a big one."

Joplin, Missouri is where most of my family and friends still live. It is where I was born and while I went to high school in Carthage, Joplin is where I spent most of my time. I tried to call my mom and got through - she was fine. I tried to call my dad and it went straight to voicemail.

I left a message and tried again. This time the call didn't go through.

Immediately I jumped on to Facebook to see what I could find out from my friends in the area. They were reporting if they had made it through the storm and trying to locate others. They were reporting on damage and area landmarks that were gone. They were reporting that phone calls weren't getting through, but that they were still able to access social media using their phones. Facebook became a gathering place - a communication hub - a way to share important information with a large number of other people who had no other way to communicate with one another.

As a social media consultant, there was a lot I learned about social media during the days following the tornado in Joplin. I stationed myself behind my computer and worked remotely to try to help people find food, shelter, and places to join up with volunteers when things were changing by the minute.

I used apps like Emergency Radio on my iPhone to tune into Joplin area law enforcement to find out about areas of looting and where volunteers were being told to congregate. I listened non-stop to local station KZRG via the internet so I could update people via Facebook and Twitter about where supply drops were happening and where hot food was being delivered at different times during the day; which shelters were full and where people could go for medical supplies.

This was extremely important because St. John's Regional Medical Center had been destroyed by the tornado, leaving Freeman Health System as the one large remaining hospital in Joplin (many patients were taken to other areas for care).

Joplin's Freeman Health System is extremely active with their Facebook page, engaging with the community on a regular basis, providing not only information about clinics and health programs, but also updates on staff changes since the tornado. They used their Facebook page to communicate in the immediate aftermath of the tornado and their CEO even has a Twitter handle for outreach using that channel.

Many hospitals have figured out how to meet their task of engaging the community using tools like Facebook to hold a steady, reliable presence online.

Arkansas Heart Hospital is another one that has done a tremendous job with their Facebook page, connecting with the residents of their community and posting healthy tips and articles alongside community events to keep people informed.

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital was listed as one of the Top 50 hospitals for Facebook engagement via UbiCare's research of over 1,000 hospitals. From UbiCare's results, we learn hospitals with the best engagement provide the following:

  • They post at least 4 times per week, and up to as often as 3 times a day
  • They post videos and pictures of people for visual interest
  • They interact by using quizzes and contests

What does this mean for hospitals and the communities of people surrounding them? Just like I immediately turned to my online communities for information when the phone wouldn't connect, so many others looking for information and help in time of crisis can get up-to-the-minute information about where to take the sick and hurt if the hospital is full using Facebook.

People turn to the hospital's Facebook page to find out where, when, and how to help. The hospital can inform their staff on how to report in when phone lines are down.

My next post in this series will talk about how hospitals can start building their community engagement.

Do you have good example of hospitals using social media to share? Post in the comments here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Foot In Front of The Other

I've lost six pounds.

After allowing the excuses to pile up (stress, knee injury, time, motherhood, travel), I joined Weight Watchers with a good friend of mine and started following the plan. Happily, I can report I've lost six pounds over the last two weeks.

Just like blog posts or any other kind of work we do, following the plan and putting one foot in front of the other is what leads to success. Do I look at pictures of clothes I want to wear or things I want to do when I achieve my goal? Yes. But for me, concentrating on that huge goal can seem overwhelming. I've learned that focusing on just doing the right things right now are the tiny steps that will help me to attain greater success.

Breakfast: 2 eggs and heirloom tomatoes

The movies lie. In them, all the hard work is condensed into a montage with inspirational music and fast results. We don't live in the movies.

Today, think about what it is you want to achieve and put one foot in front of the other to get closer to your goal. If the word "discipline" is too scary, just focus on making the next decision the right one.

Have a great week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ma Bell Got The Ill Communication

Is social media bullshit? 

I've had some days when I've wondered about that myself. With audiences that include people who still don't know how to turn on their smartphone sitting next to people who have jailbroken their iPhones and used them to tether their WiFi, it can be a nightmare to serve all during a presentation.

In many ways, today’s social media training could be compared to telephone training. You wouldn’t pay a consultant to come in and teach you how to operate your phone…a manual can do that. What you need is someone who understands the way people use the phone to communicate so that your staff may best use its features to make the tool more effective for your business. Scripting and strategy work goes a long way. This is not the time to ask how to transfer calls. You want your staff to know how to answer the phone, the expected protocol, and how to handle common problems.

Unfortunately, too often, people get stuck in the tool and can't get their head around the strategy for using that tool.

How much thought did you put into making your voicemail message? When is the last time you learned a new tip for using your telephone for business? Maybe instead of a telephone, social media training is like PR training. You need to prepare for one voice to reach many people – whether by video, audio, or text.

I’ve been reading the book, Social Media Is Bullshit. Admittedly, the title got my attention and with so much hype around social, I wanted to check out the author’s thoughts. I mean, I am a social media consultant…this could mean my livelihood, right?

Guess what? I love the book.

People put too much importance around the wrong things: Increasing follower counts, adding likes, and other superficial metrics. You wouldn’t try to measure how many people you could get to call your business phone number…but what happened as a result of that call might be worth measuring.

B.J. Mendelson challenges the authority of the likes of Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Brian Solis and other popular social/PR big cheeses. He asserts that these guys work to preserve their livelihoods at the expense of providing anything of real value to the people who buy what they’re selling.

How are you adding value to your customers/clients/members? Focus on that today. I know I am.  

Ultimately, it all comes down to the same thing. You need to have a solid product and services before all else. If you don’t have that, you are misplacing priorities. Even if you hire me for social media strategy, you still need to focus on the basics. That should never change. You still need to build real relationships with your customers or members. Relationships that are not dependent on whether or not they are influencers. 

So, is social media bullshit? Only if you're focusing on it at the expense of your basic services. 

What do you think?