"What data is meaningful?"
"What is trend, and what is simply trendy?"
I was reading this book to get answers not more questions. But Michael Cervino decides to start his Chapter in the NTEN with questions. And not just questions, but questions that I dont hear my organization asking themselves. It is like Dr Seuss once said "One Tweet, two tweet, red tweet, blue tweet." Oh no that isnt the right quote. Sorry, it is like Dr Seuss once said "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
I am not exactly sure what the quote from Dr. Seuss means, but here is my interpretation. Sometimes it is harder to find the right question to be asking than to find the answer. The question isnt "should we have a facebook page?", it could be "what is our goal in communicating online?" The question isnt "how do we fundraise on Twitter?", it could be is "where are our potential donors online?"
RFPs (Requests for Proposals) are a great example of making sure to ask the right question. If you ask a vendor, "can your product handle multiple integrations?" They will answer yes. But what does that question even mean? And of course they say yes, because anything can be done with extra customization, you didnt ask if it exists now, you just said can it...
I learned a lot in this chapter. Michael does a great job of outlining how to create SMART objectives, gather data, analyze data and identifying trends in order to understand your constituents better. Michael keeps all of this online activity in perspective by focusing on the organizations goals and then find the correct audience match. This should not be about the tools or the trends in technology, rather it is tracking your audience and their engagement with you.
But the questions and the tracking cant just happen at the beginning of the online presence rollout. Back to the RFP example, how many times do we actually go back a year later after we select the vendor and compare the progress to what the vendor said we would have in the RFP? Or do we simply forget the questions we asked and only examine the current reality? You dont have to continually ask new questions, sometimes it is best to go back and ask the same question again to see if you did answer it or if it was the right question.
I have picked up on one thing from Judith here at work as a part of our online registration system rollout. And that is to document the questions and decisions that have to be made, then include the answer (with the reasoning). Because inevitably someone will ask the question again or will change their mind. This isnt about just saying, told you so or saying we already did that. It is to avoid asking the wrong questions and making the same mistakes.
Anyway, nicely done chapter Michael!
Over 11 weeks I am doing a themed series of blog posts. Each week I will write about a chapter of the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. This week is on the 8th chapter by By Michael Cervino called Where are your stakeholders and what are they doing online? You should totally buy the book. (In case you are wondering, I am volunteering to do this, I am not getting paid or in any other way reimbursed for this. I just love NTEN and their events.)