What would Eliezer Ben Yehuda Tweet? Well, from what we know of the eccentric father of modern Hebrew, he probably would have found the technology (let alone the prospect of naming it) overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean we have to…
The project is an outgrowth of NJOPs popular Read Hebrew America program, said NJOP publicist Ilya Welfeld, founded with the idea of reaching people who arent inclined to join a community class the Jewish Tweets social media brand was a perfect background, providing a little kitsch and allowing people to learn Hebrew in bite-sized pieces.
Right away, almost 200 people officially registered, Welfeld said, noting that these are just the people who proactively want to be receiving everything directly to them. But on a daily basis, several hundred people are participating however theywant. The intent was to create learning that was atyour own pace, in your own space.
For some, social media is a bit scary because it empowers the public to voice their thoughts. While hopefully in the vast majority of circumstances this means engaging in more meaningful conversations, learning about new supports, and amplifying your message through valuable networks, it also means that critics can make their rants public. This is scary, and threatening. Partially because of the potential content of those rants, and largely because it represents a loss of control.
I often remind those concerned that control is largely an illusion — those rants and conversations happen in the parking lot, the dinner table, via email and on Facebook. The companies that have done a great job of turning around their brands (Comcast, Dell) have done so not be trying to shut down the conversation or ignoring it, but by listening, acknowledging, and learning from it. (For stories about what they’ve done, read Twitterville.)
Chris Brogan, a widely known and well respects new media marketing specialist, writes a very prolific (and insightful) blog and weekly e-newsletter. This week he talks about critics, and offers some advice :
If you are fortunate enough to have critics, you’re doing something right … I want to share with you how I deal with critics, and what you might learn from the gifts they give you.
Thank them. No matter what a critic says, say “Thanks for your thoughts,” or a variation. They have taken the time to offer their opinions, however invalid or unhelpful, with you. Say thanks. It’s the only good response to a criticism. Don’t defend yourself. The person giving you the opinion probably doesn’t care what you have to say about it. They just wanted to share their take. You can reply and reflect back what they’ve said, but try not to defend. It only comes off as making you look defensive and it just goes nowhere fast. Decide for yourself, in private, if you agree. You don’t have to take every critic’s opinion, but listen to whether there’s any grain of truth in what they say. I learn when my critics are my friends, but I learn LOTS when they are people who don’t much like me. Sometimes, I’m able to adapt their mean words into something of great value to myself.
Don’t just throw it out, is my point. Criticism can be helpful, even non-constructive criticism, if you are willing to hear a bit of it and throw away the junk. Thing is, don’t necessarily run around seeking it, either. It can build up like toxin in our veins, and if we’re only hearing a stream of icky things, that doesn’t help us at all.
… It took me a long while to believe in myself enough to not believe in critics. There’s a great bit from an interview (and I forget who the subject was), where she said something about really loving her positive reviews, but then her agent said, if you believe all the positive reviews, you have to believe all the negative critics. That’s stuck with me.
Personally, I’ve found most of the criticism we receive on the JewPoint0.org blog is really helpful — it teaches me where I can improve, adds value to the conversation, and often helps me identify knowledgeable folks who are invested in our mission.
How do you think about critics and criticism, whether it be on or offline? How do you use it as a productive feedback loop? How to you respond to critics? What have you learned?
ReadWriteWeb is reporting that YouTube and their partners are offering a series of free webinars to teach how to make successful online video.
The mega-video site is partnering with Videomaker magazine to offer free webinars on topics of interest to the would-be iJustines and Ask A Ninjas of the world. Topics will cover how to shop for a video camera, microphone techniques, lighting and all the basics of shooting palatable online video content.
3. The low cost Flip video camera and other new technology is democratizing video making.
While a picture might be worth 1000 words, a 3 minute video is worth (at least 30 frames per secondx 60 seconds x 3 minutes =) 5,400,000 words. Now that’s impact. Potentially.
A lot can go wrong with your seemingly powerful online video. And crappy videos are, well crappy. And don’t hold a viewer’s attention, and don’t usually translate into action or support for your organization. To help you do it right, YouTube is partnering with Videomaker magazine to offer a series of free skill building webinars on topics such as CHoosing the right camera,lighting andfiltering, microphone techniques, the art of composition and handheld camera techniques. You can vote on the topics you want to have offered, and submit your own ideas and discuss common issues.
The first seminar will focus on “Basic Shooting Techniques” and is scheduled for October 27, 2009, at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET. Click here to register.
You can also learn more about online video from See3’s Guide to Online Video, presented in, what else? Online video: http://www.see3.net/guide/
“Overall, nearly 50% of Facebook users in the US today are over 35, and nearly one-fifth of all US Facebook users are over 45. Most of Americas biggest brand advertisers are working with Facebook now, and its clear that theyre reaching users across the age spectrum.”
While the total number of users still shows that 18-44 is the greatest population on Facebook, these growth rates clearly show that we’re past the point of making any age-generalizations about users.
It’s important to remember that people allocate their time based on received value. Whether 55-65 year old users are connecting with old friends, getting updates on their grandkids, or using it for work, clearly they are finding real value, and we can expect their style of participation to expand as they discover new features, applications and utility there.
As Clay Shirky says, “these social tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.” With these growth rates, the technology is getting boring (meaning it’s not complex, frustrating, or an obstacle) quickly, and we can expect to see even more interesting social uses of Facebook for these demographics very soon.
Any observations about how the 45-65 demographic is participating on Facebook in your world? How are you using Facebook to reach this segment of your community?
I’ve got two great sources of wisdom sitting on my desk right now. First, a handout from Ron Wolfson from a conference a year or two ago, and a new blog post by Chris Brogan. Both are about providing service for members and customers, and both draw from examples of companies that have built their brand around SERVICE. In this day and age when time and attention are the limiting factors for engagement and participation, providing high quality, convenient and efficient service is paramount.
At this time of year when we’re walking into synagogues along with thousands of others, we pay attention to signage, accessibility of prayer books, ease of movement. We take advantage of the face to face experience by having ushers who welcome and guide us to open seats. But the rest of year is no different.
As the Synagogue 3000 handout reminds us, great experiences build great brands. A few examples:
Nordstrom – Everyone deserves personal attention (personal note, having grown up in Seattle — they also take anything back, no questions asked. My family ALWAYS shopped there, and still does)
Borders Books – Find the book
Home Dept – There’s no such thing as a silly question
Zappos had to convince thousands and thousands of customers that ordering shoes on the web was easy, and that their customer service policies were top shelf. They made a near-billion dollar correct bet on how they competed.
Craigslist revenues for 2009 were estimated to top $100 million dollars, and Craig Newmark built the company around the premise that excellent customer service and community involvement were the key.
The bottom line: to compete, BE HELPFUL. This doesn’t mean market your events in 10 different places, it means add value to people’s lives before you ask them to buy, attend or commit. Can you help someone have a faster or easier or more convenient experience? Can you help them solve a problem they didn’t know they had? Can you empower someone to do more or better for themselves and others?
How can you use social media to get people to walk in the door? It’s a great question that I’m often asked. It’s big question, with many responses, but I’ll tackle one thing here: Understand your user. Who is the audience that you’re trying to reach, and why AREN’T they walking in the door yet? Once you understand what stands between them and you, you can develop a social media strategy to help. A few examples:
The online campaign launched earlier this summer, and already the blood center has about 400 fans on Facebook and 1,200 followers on Twitter. And the blood center has a YouTube site for its online generation donators.
Many new donors walked in the door after learning about the campaign, or hearing from their own friends on Twitter or Facebook about critically low levels of Type O. Furthermore, the social media savvy donors are passing on the word, and energizing the campaign, retweeting (even if they don’t donate themselves!) and sharing their experience, even by making a video of giving blood and posting it on YouTube. From the PI again:
“They take the initiative because we’ve given them the tools,” Young said about the blood center’s online followers. “You don’t find a better group of people. To be a blood donor, you have to be a fairly altruistic person in the first place.”
From 5 to 33 percent of donors at blood drives over the last three months said they scheduled their appointments because of social media, and DeButts said he expects that number to skyrocket as school starts up and students organize drives through Facebook.
What makes this so successful? Perhaps donating blood is not as commonly talked about in this demographic, and by putting it online they are energizing the conversation, which leads to more education about both the need and the process, which results in lower (psychological) barriers, and more people walk in the door. Maybe they didn’t know it only takes a few minutes, and it’s near their office. Why do you think a third of their recent donors were inspired through social media?
2) The Obama Presidential Campaign relied heavily on volunteers to make calls and go door to door through neighborhoods. Why did so many first-time volunteers pitch in? Partially because of the candidate, but largely because the campaign lowered barriers to participation. Many prospective volunteers were nervous about walking into an office, weary of trying to represent details of policies they didn’t know. Many local offices made short, casual videos to help people understand what the culture of the office was like, and the sorts of tasks volunteers could do. Check out this one:
Avid users of social media are not looking to hide behind their computer screens. In fact we’re eager to connect with fascinating people and valuable organizations in our local communities. We seek value, social capital, and meaning. As you consider your social media strategy, think about who you are trying to reach, and how you can add value and meaning to their lives. You might be surprised what comes back to you.
How have you been inspired through social media to show up in person? What have you done in your work to connect, lower barriers, and energize people? We’d love to hear your story.
Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble) has a new book, Twitterville.
Beth Kanter was giving away copies Twitterville the other day. I saw it on Facebook (I’m a fan of hers) but it was also on Twitter and her blog. (She’s a pro at making the most of multiple channels, without leaving me feeling inundated from every direction. It’s a real art.)
Beth periodically runs contests like this. She asks people to leave a comment responding to a particular question to enter the contest. It’s not random — she picks those whom she thinks are most deserving or will make the most of the prize. What I love about these contests is that by having a public entry process, she creates a forum for interesting people to share their work and ideas. I always learn something from reading the other entries.
So I left a comment saying how much I appreciate this approach to surfacing great ideas and practices. And heck, if giving away the book can do it, if I win, I’ll re-give-away the book to surface more good things, specifically in the Jewish community where we work.
She loved the idea and I won the book! (Well, to be honest, by the time she announced the winners she had about a dozen books – there were so many good responses that the author kicked in some copies, she found more promo copies, and others bought copies to add to the contest!) You can read about the results here.
And the punchline is … Shortly we’ll be putting up our own blog post to give away the book (once I get it, and read it). We’ll be asking about how you’re using Twitter in strategic and goal oriented ways. So start thinking about it, and experimenting on Twitter so you’ll have something juicy to share when we announce the contest. And, as always, you’re welcome to share your experiences (what’s working as well as what you’re challenged by) in the comments here.
Peggy Orenstein, in her New York Times Magazine article this past weekend, considers the impact of opening up her family via Skyping with her parents 1500 miles away. She writes:
Now, I like my parents. A lot. I really do. Thats why I make the 1,500-mile trip to visit them three or four times a year. I did not, however, spend the bulk of my adult life perfecting the fine art of establishing boundaries only to have them toppled by the click of a mouse. If I wanted them to have unfettered access to my life, I wouldnt have put the keep out sign on my room at age 10. I would have lived at home through college. I would have bought the house next door to them in Minneapolis and made them an extra set of keys…
To Skype or not to Skype, that is the question. But answering it invokes a larger conundrum: how to perform triage on the communication technologies that seem to multiply like Tribbles instant messaging, texting, cellphones, softphones, iChat, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter; how to distinguish among those that will truly enhance intimacy, those that result in T.M.I. [too much information] and those that, though pitching greater connectedness, in fact further disconnect us from the people we love.
Every new technology, from the telephone decades ago, to streaming video cams these days, and everything in between, beg many questions about how much information we want to share, where we will draw our boundaries, why, and how.
In this month’s Journal S’hma, I offer some thoughts on how these tools can enrich and starve our Jewish homes, and how we can draw on Jewish concepts of community, home, family and values to guide our intentional decision making about how, when and why we will use (or not use) particular technologies. Because ultimately, it’s not about the technology, it’s about relationships.
I’m at the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) conference, commonly known as NTC (or this year, 09NTC). It is a phenomenal gathering of the brightest nonprofit folks who are using or interested in technology, from databases to mobile and everything in between.
Today’s keynote was Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. His summary of the book in 5 words: Coordinated Action Just Got Easier. (And the footnote: thus organizations have lost their monopoly on coordinating action, and therefore their role is changing.) His entertaining and enlighting presentations (see many on YouTube) include many examples of the implications of social media and the opportunities it presents.
One of the things I love most about his work are the illustrations of the major paradigm shift underway. I find that beyond the tactical education about this or that tool, this understanding is key to the health and success of the Jewish community. Today he gave the analogy of John Fitch’s invention of the steamboat. When Fitch started, he took the boat as we all knew it — powered by men rowing oars — and added a steam engine. Not particularly successful. Using the old model and adding steam was not a recipe for success. However, when he changed the model, the steam engine added tremendous value.
The same is true of our organizations. Take the same top-down organization and add technology. Doesn’t work. Working in alignment with the new, and still evolving marketplace requires rethinking our models and questioning some very basic assumptions about marketing, communication, education, and community building.
Thanks to Chad Norman for the Clay Shirky and Holly Ross (Exec Dir of NTEN) photo, and for the quotes below from his talk:
“The loss of control you fear is already in the past.”
“We’re not good at thinking fast. We are good at feeling fast.”
“Tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”
“Once one person solves the problem once, the problem stays solved for everybody.”
“The intention of users has more impact than the intention of the designers.”
“Each of us is simultaneously an individual person and a global publisher.”
“Start small and good, then make it bigger.”
“We spend more time figuring out whether something is a good idea than we would have just trying it.”
“Don’t hire consultants. Hire your own 23-year-olds.”
[It doesn’t work to] “Just take our organization and add some Internet.”
“It’s not just about delivering content to members, it’s about the convening power to help members discover each other.”
“Fail informatively – Fail like crazy.”