Monday, November 23, 2009

Tool Trends or People Trends? (Part 8 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

Questions Answered..."Where should you focus your efforts to find out where your stakeholders are and what they are doing online with and for your organization."

"What data is meaningful?"

"What is trend, and what is simply trendy?"

I'll Teach My Dog a Lot of Words
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.)

Flickr photos by Travelin' Librarian and by Thomas Hawk

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Facebook yes, social media no - Social Media sidebar

"We cant approve a social media strategy, but we should be on Facebook."
"No our communications plan doesnt specifically integrate social media, but why dont we have a Twitter account?"

So I have heard statements like this a lot recently.  It seems to be easier to get approval to launch a Facebook page than to get a conversation started about social media as a whole.

My initial ideas around getting social media started were met with questions and resistance.  Everyone would agree it was important and had lots to add.  However nobody is willing to step up and approve something as vague and misunderstood as social media. So we end up asking for approval for something that isnt tangible enough to make a real decision on.

I have seen others have success in a very different approach.  In the background they create a master social media plan and tie it to their communications plan.  But when they seek approval, they talk at a more tactical level that is easier to visualize and quantify. They pick the first tools, participants and campaigns they want to launch. Then they pitch for approval of these trials, not a big approval of a social media strategy.

So all of these big pushes and "experts" that push for a very deliberate big social media strategy are correct that you should have it.  However, maybe the approach shouldnt be to get leadership to approve that strategy.  Rather you should seek approval of your first tactics that are derived from your plan.

Not sure this post is a complete thought and it lacks any flair\images\etc.  But it has been nagging me and I needed to post it in order to get it off my brain. Someone please help me complete this thought.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Juggle the infrastructure (Part 7 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

A jugglers hands are a critical tool in making the magic happen.

So when we first start to learn to juggle our instinct is to stare at them and figure out why they are catching the balls. We look at our hand as it releases the ball, then quickly scan over to the other hand to see if we are going to catch it. But as we look at one hand, the other one is also supposed to be simultaneously doing its part. Plus we may be so busy looking at our hands, that we dont even see that the ball went the wrong direction and we dont stand a chance of catching it anyway.

However if you talk to a juggler, they will tell you the key to juggling is to watch the balls, not your hands. You should be able to know your hands will be in the right spot without looking. You have to train your hands to catch the ball based on where you saw the ball was headed.

Social media, gadgets and technology whiz bangs are great at making us loose sight of the basics.  How can we ever manage all these new balls in the air when we havent even trained our hands to catch the ones already in the air?

Every organization needs to be able to depend on their core technology to be there to catch the balls (daily work) and throw them back up without looking at their hands (technology). Technology should be transparent like the jugglers hands, he doesnt seem them, they just do their job.

Sure there may be an occasional dropped ball, but well trained hands will be able to pick it up and get started where it left off.

While I love conferences like NTEN, enjoy reading blogs and heart social networks, how do we ever believe we will get our organizations to embrace technology if our core infrastructure doesnt work? Sure Facebook would be awesome, but our PC's are too old and bandwidth is strained. Sure I would love to launch a video campaign but first I have to clean our network storage because it is full. Why dont we have more information getting put in front of leadership that helps them understand this point?

Seriously, dont start juggling 5 balls until you can handle the 3 you already have.

Anyway. Kevin Lo and Willow Cook do a great job with their chapter on Introduction to IT and Systems.  I have always been a HUGE RAVING FAN of TechSoup because they will not and have not given up on the basics.  They are still willing to tell you what a VPN is or what is important in IT security or why/why not buy refurbished. Stop reading my blog and go to TechSoup now!

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 7th chapter by By Kevin Lo and Willow Cook called Introduction to IT and Systems. 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.)

Flickr photos by Cayusa and by Shannon Henry