Posts Tagged tools

Don’t blame the tools

Posted by on Thursday, 1 May, 2014

Today, the Grammarly blog ran this image as the main bit of a simple post, noting the downside of short form communication:

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image credit via Grammarly at: http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2014/the-real-problem-with-texting/ 

As you may have guessed from the title of my post here, I disagree. But more specifically I believe it is they way we misuse the communication tools available to us for the wrong conversations. This hearkens back to one of my earlier posts on my business blog “Notes from Rational Support” during our drive to work outside the inbox: Using the right tools for the right conversations

In that post I outline how using open and transparent communication tools like blogs, wikis, and forums to collaborate on ideas before transitioning them into actionable work can be a wonderful method for building an efficient workforce. More importantly, however, is that using the right tools for the right conversations aide with improving communication all around.

Use the tools you do have available to consciously move those conversations away from short-form, email, or closed systems to the more open and transparent mediums and you’ll see your communication improve in an almost passive manner. Make use of forums and wikis and blogs to collaborate and drive your work forward, use texts for simple quick updates/questions, and of course pick up the phone and call someone when the conversation requires that deeper connection and free-flowing discussion.

Texting isn’t the issue with failed communication. The issue is using texts for the wrong conversations and not moving those conversation to the right medium when texting begins to cause confusion.

2013: The Year of Influence

Posted by on Thursday, 20 December, 2012

In 2012 you’ve likely heard me talk about thought leadership and digital eminence, both of which are components of influence. You’ve also heard me talk about Klout before, and how I didn’t think it was up to the job as a tool for influence measurement, but that it was the least objectionable tool out there at present. Because I’m a skeptic when it comes to Klout, but believe there is potential there, I’ve been keeping up with their changes and shifts in strategy if only to be able to say “no, we still can’t really rely on this yet”.

That’s how I came to watch when Brian Solis shared this interview he held with Klout founder and CEO Joe Fernandez in which they discuss the future of Klout and influence measurement.
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Some of the key points highlighted:

  • Klout as democratizing influence. Everyone with access to a smart-phone now has a voice and can become influential at scale.
  • Be more mindful of what we create and the impact we have.
  • Responsibility to cultivate good behaviour, to elevate level of conversation
  • Klout as tool to grow social media maturity
  • Klout as a tool to help you be more effective in social
  • Move into the real world. Balancing online and offline life to contribute to the overall score.
  • Increasing the power to the influencer, shows how powerful their content is
  • Evolving into a more robust picture of influence.
  • Vision for the future of influence: every interaction of brand to person is the story of the brand. Influence will only grow in importance and building a relationship with influencers will be critical.
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In my comment on Brian Solis’ share on GooglePlus, I noted:

“…at best Klout is an indicator of activity that hopefully shows deeper levels of conversation and interaction. The difficulties with Klout come when people become so metric focused and begin to only do the simple things akin to gaming the system to keep their number high, rather than looking at the long game and actual goals surrounding their online presence.. Only using Klout as that indicator and not a direct measure is how I am able to use it currently, and how I continue to see it in the near future.”

I’ll be honest with you and myself here: I initially missed the point of his interview and what Joe was saying when I commented on Brian’s share. Only after replaying it a few times as I was working on this post did it really sink in. The point is that Klout is intended by its founder and CEO to be a tool to guide both brands and influencers to build better, more effective relationships, not to be a metric to tell you how good you are.

I think I’ll be able to start accepting this new-found view of the tool if the user base (both individuals and brands) also begin using the tool to this end rather than basing business decisions on it as a metric. In either case, and regardless of which tool you use, the coming year is indeed shaping up to look like the “Year of Influence“, where your level of influence is going to dramatically increase in importance for your professional life. We can’t ignore it, but we also can’t blindly accept that what we have presently to measure is the best we are going to get. And that is why Joe’s interview is beginning to turn me: he gets this, he knows he hasn’t solved the problem. So, I am going to be watching Klout next year, even more intently than I have in the past, to see where their changes take them. I’ll be looking to see how much of the gap they can close to get us all closer to a usable and trustworthy tool intent on helping guide us in building those all important influencer relationships. After all, relationships are the key component to being a social business.

Automating cross-channel posting of social content…

Posted by on Wednesday, 6 June, 2012

… have a look up my sleeves into some of my “secrets” to managing social channels:

The general consensus in the social business world is that heavy automation is a bad thing, that all channels should have their own content tailored to that audience. While that is excellent advice (which I’ve recommended time and time again to others who’ve asked for best practices) it isn’t always practical or within resources to man multiple social channels 24×7. There are even times when your audience may WANT some level of automation to ensure they get the content they want with consistency and predictability. (As an aside here: before moving forward with any automation be sure to know your audience; both what they need and want, as well as what behaviours they like and dislike in the various channels. Just knowing this will take you far on its own.)

In the past few years I’ve used all sorts of methods to post content both in automated and manual fashions. For the channels I manage, I’ve found a balance of manual intervention and automated posting work best to keep the content flowing and still be able to engage and respond as needed. To this end I have a few fun tools in my arsenal to help me be successful. In this post I’ll go over the one tool that I most often forget about because it just simply works, and works in a passive manner:

Ifttt.comIf this then that

ifttt.com is a brilliant tool to quickly and easily begin automating sharing of content across social channels. While there are other methods and tools out there which do similar things, I’ve yet to find anything comparable to ifttt.com which does everything I need. Some of the biggies include posting from one channel to a Facebook Page, a process which is often ignored by most sites’ “Share to Facebook” features which most often only post to personal walls, not Pages. Happily, ifttt.com comes to the rescue and easily allows me to automate things like sharing a Youtube Video to my Facebook Page in a “set it and forget it” manner.

This simple, but robust site not only lets you connect social channels together in otherwise unsupported fashions, but also provides ways to automate well beyond structured social sites by connecting things like Evernote, SMS, Google Voice, and many more content channels to build tasks to accomplish your specific needs. They even provide a great resource and ability to create and share recipes (tasks which have been built which don’t contain authentication information) so you won’t be re-creating the wheel. The recipe section is also a great place to find inspiration for what is possible and maybe strike that idea of the perfect use.

Using ifttt.com I’ve been able to get to a “one and done” model of content posting to various channels. But it can do so much more… just imagine the possibilities of customizing your own SMS notifications, archive and access capabilities, auto post based on content you put in DropBox, or update your twitter avatar when you update your Facebook profile picture!

There ARE, of course, some caveats to using ifttt.com:

Most importantly is to always remember the flow of content. It is easy to build a ton of tasks and then forget what is posting to where, which can result in embarrassing duplication of content and need to manually clean up duplicate posts. I’d recommend setting a one-way flow which always originates on the same channel if you use ifttt.com to automate cross-channel postings, as you can quickly run into a continuous loop of content if you set up tasks to post to twitter from Facebook and from Facebook to twitter. If you only have a one-way flow and always use one channel as your primary location for content, you reduce the risk of flooding your users with the same post over and over again.

Likewise, you will want to be judicious about automating in this fashion, as some channels are less tolerant of frequent posts than others are. Understand the frequency of content coming through your primary source and how it may be received by the secondary channel, and only set the task if you know the flow will be ok for all audiences. Can you imagine how your audience would react if you set an RSS feed from CNN’s home page to auto-post to your Facebook page? Your twitter followers may be more accepting of such high frequency posts, but your Facebook page will likely feel the consequences far more deeply.

Now go forth and enjoy playing around with this amazingly fun and customizable tool and build your own “if this then that” triggers, just be sure to only use this information for good not evil! Once you do, let me know what you come up with! I’d love to hear of new and innovative ways you may us the site.