4 posts categorized "October 2012"

October 29, 2012

Never Doubt The Power Of Small Groups (they can turn into movements)

This October, I'm reminded of a company effort to battle breast cancer, started by a handful of passionate people in Canada.  We focus so much on the power of one person, super-woman, but forget that more often than not it takes a core group to really move the needle.

This is why Margaret Mead once wrote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  She didn't say a person, she emphasized a group.  

Here’s a good example from CIBC, a national bank in Canada. In 1997, the community relations group of the Edmonton, Alberta, branch signed on to sponsor the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual Run for the Cure fund-raiser. The sponsorship program offered a modest amount of financial support and encouraged CIBC employees to participate either by running in the event or pledging money to those who did. The program received a pleasant reception but was not deemed strategic to the company’s core interests.

For the next three years, hundreds of tellers from Edmonton to Toronto—mostly women—signed up to run for the fund-raiser. They organized individual teams at each of the bank branch locations to strategize how to increase participation and raise more money. They took advantage of available corporate resources and participated in corporate promotions, putting up posters and wearing T-shirts and pink ribbons provided by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. They talked up the fund-raiser to coworkers, friends, and family.

Involvement became a point of pride. By 2001, with thousands of CIBC employees now program participants, the fund-raiser was a major source of job satisfaction. Bank executives asked the brand-marketing group to research the impact of the company’s sponsorship; the resulting data suggested that it was driving the bank’s popularity with customers, especially women, and that a side benefit was a boost in employee retention.

Because of these efforts and their results, bank executives re-classified the Run for the Cure sponsorship program as strategic to the company and moved it from the community affairs department to the powerful and well-funded brand marketing group, which upped the ante by approving an additional $3 million in sponsorship money to promote the event through television, print, and Web advertisements.

In 2001, approximately $10 million was raised for the Run for the Cure. By the following year, more than 140,000 people participated in the program, due largely to CIBC advertising. Later that year, when new management took over the bank, they continued the support. Today the Run for the Cure is the largest breast-cancer fund-raising event in North America, all because a few hundred passionate tellers decided to use the workplace to organize an event about which they truly cared.

(This was an excerpt of Saving The World at Work, my third book)

October 11, 2012

The Secret To Moving On Up At Your Organization

I've been thinking lately about how one really moves up inside an organization. 

Many might think it's about performance or schmoozing.  The former is hard, because not everyone gets an opportunity to produce measureable results.  The latter isn't really true, except for those rare situations where the leadership cares more about being popular than organizational success. 

Recently, I discovered for myself the best three steps.  They account for my rise at broadcast.com, then later again at Yahoo.  Recently, a good friend of mine (in his 20's) was leaving for his first corporate conference.  He was excited about the trip, the food, the chance to socialize and all the parties likely to happen.  Why not? 

I gave him this advice: Leverage the conference to move up in your organization.  Many will have your POV, and goof off publicly there or worse.  Let them eat cake and guzzle beer while you move up.  He asked me, "what then should I do?"  The advice I gave him is the same advice I'd give anyone, whether you are just starting out at a company or participating in a training program/conference. 

1. Learn - Open your ears and eyes to take in all the data, stories and advice you can. Attend everything you can, take notes like an A student, and ask questions until you 'get it'.  Do your homework and then do some extra credit work on your break.  

2. Demonstrate Learning - For many leaders, this is how they spot real team players.  It's one thing to know-it-all, it's another to put it into practice.  Find ways to apply your learning in real-world situations, and don't be afraid to take your mentor with you on your journey or report the results to them later.  

3. Lead Others To Learn - As you succeed with your new found learning, leverage your success to convince others to become students and not just workers.  Challenge them from your position of strength to give more of their mind to grow.  Offer to mentor those who are struggling and reward their attention with praise (and more time).  Offer to teach a class or gather students for one. Nothing encourages your leadership more than this behavior, as it's the way to creating organizational bench strength. 

October 04, 2012

How Would You Like To Work On a Game Changing Book?

We live in a world where 8 out of 10 people "have a book in them." 

But along the way, I'm come to a bigger discovery: Most of us have what it takes to contribute to a book project and find real meaning along the way.  Some of us have great editorial and writing skills, likely honed from college and work experiences.  Some of us are great designers, be it Photoshop gurus or branding experts.  And then many of you have marketing and publicity chops, that could help a book become more discoverable upon launch.

Of all things you could be working on, books are likely the most valuable.  Books are the rare media products people are willing to pay for.  Their long form nature lends itself to having a bigger impact on the reader than a blog, newsletter or magazine article.  Finally, the nature of book projects enable you to make new friends and professional connections far beyond what you are achieving with networking services like LinkedIn. 

So what are you waiting for?  At Net Minds, we've created a platform that connects authors and freelance talent (just like you).  In some cases, the relationship is work-for-hire.  But in most cases, you are real partner, cut into the profits of the book over the long haul.  

On several of our projects, editors/designers/marketers are working on their first book project - leveraging their other experiences and producing fresh work that will thrill readers.  We've also secured some of the top editorial, design and marketing talents to contribute to our projects.  They understand how disruptive our Group Publishing model is, and that's why they are getting involved at the ground floor.

We've just released the Fall Net Minds Select, a collection of terrific book projects looking for freelance partners.  We offer up seasoned authors like Todd Duncan, Dain Dunston, Bill Jensen and Kevin Kelly. We also introduce first time authors like Jon Hinds,  Michael Smith from Forbes, Nicholas Tucker and Brian Cuban

Take a second to peruse our projects  , and if one of them strikes you fancy, raise your hand and join our movement! 

October 03, 2012

Warning For Facebook Page Owners: Pay The Piper Or Lose Your Following

As of today, I'm back to blogging as the epicentre of my social media plan. 

For the last few months, my Facebook Page has been my go to for posting updates related to my business, writings and my outreach.  Why not?  It was easier than a blog post, and once you figured out what Edgerank likes (hint, visually based content), you could garner significant reach. 

I started to buy FB's "Promoted Posts" when one of my missives was working.  And by working, I mean that it had a 10% viral co-efficient or better.  By that, I mean that if the organic traffic was 500, then the viral traffic was 50 or better.  When I paid to promote it, say for $10 or $20 dollars, the post would catch on fire.  That proved that you only promote content that works, which is a win/win for me and my followers. 

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It was a bonanza for marketers that understood how to create content that works.  I set aside a reasonable budget, a few hundred dollars a month, and was satisfied with the service. 

But all of that changed when FB got greedy, and expanded Promoted Posts' range from $30 to $300.  With that little change, EdgeRank's goal (promote quality in your feed) was shoved aside for gold-old-fashioned campaign delivery requirements.  If I plunk down $300, I get over 80,000 reach with little little old 5000 base.  

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Starting last week, I noticed something: Unless I promote a post, my traffic is down significantly.  I can post the same quality of content, getting the same initial reactions from my following, and the post still decays quickly...unless I triple or quadruple my spend on promoted posts.  Because I didn't spend more, even though I maintained the same editorial calendar, my traffic dipped a whopping 75%.  (According to this WSJ Online post, I'm not alone in this finding.) 

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Here's my theory, and likely I'm not alone in this.  Remember when United and Continental merged? If you had status on either airline, you stopped getting upgrades as often.  Why? Because there were too many Elites in the system, crowding the scarce upgrade slots.  This is what happened at FB. Deep pocketed or spend thrift Page owners were buying traffic-to-the-moon and FB's EdgeRank gave way to what I now call Paid-Rank.  To fill all the Promoted Post offers, FB now distributes content regardless of whether it had Weight, Affinity, etc. (the quality algorithm they built to deliver users quality content in their Top Feed). 

What does this all mean?  For users, expect more commercial noise in your stream, less quality and visual content - and an increasingly irrelevent platform to discover your world.  Unless you want to think of FB as a digital zine of sorts.  

For Page owners, it's a subtle reminder that you should NEVER build your business on a free platform.  (I talked about this last year in this post.) Sure, FB might be a good referral source of traffic for your blog, but don't let it be your online HQ.  If you put a hard ROI against Promoted Posts, you'll be very disappointed with their value because there's very little way to measure what you get for your money.  Google's Ad Words, on the other hand, demonstrates value via it's pay per click model.  If you fall for the 'you got mega-reach for $300' argument, remember, that's not an advertising impression, it is a post impression which is much weaker in it's call to action, creative and execution. 

Typepad (my blog provider) cannot and will not choke off my traffic unless I pay them more.  I pay a monthly service fee to ensure that.  So expect to see me blogging more and provisioning my FB Pages to drive traffic to it.  

It's natural that FB, desperate to prove itself to Wall Street, would resort to tactics that undermine the user experience for the share price.  Apparently, Yelp has been doing this too.  When I worked at Yahoo, I saw this phenomenon back in 2001 with pop-unders, front page takeovers and suspicious user targeting programs.  What's dissapointing in FB's case is that they should have known better, or at least learned from Yahoo's decline that in the end ... you need to create marketing solutions that are user focused.  

(Note: This blog post refutes my claim of reduced traffic, but frankly, the data isn't fresh enough. Check back on his analysis in a month, and I suspect I'll be vindicated. This Indie-Wire post from Monday supports my POV.)