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Recent changes by Facebook to its Edge Rank algorithm brought an onslaught of criticism from brands and advertisers. Edge Rank determines which posts show up in Facebook users’ news feeds; since the change, brands have been seeing a decline in views of posts they make to their pages as the algorithm favors posts from individual profiles rather than pages. Now, there’s an answer. Facebook has created a feed where users can see only the posts from Pages they like. In addition to making up about 20 percent of news feed content, users can look at their very own Pages-only view any time.
So is that good news, or bad?
The answer is mixed, but mostly good. Unlike the other newsfeed views, “most recent” and “top stories,” users have to look for Pages updates in the Pages tab in the left hand navigation bar. It’s not the most obvious integration for most; after all, how many people spend time in their Pages menu?
However, once alerted to the change, the Pages feed offers a great resource for people looking for updates from their favorite brands, bands, businesses, and celebrities. Posts that were once buried by Edge Rank are available to be uncovered with ease — all the more important during the time of year when consumers are looking for holiday shopping deals or recipe ideas, for example.
ReadWriteWeb suggests another plus: Brand-weary consumers may stick to Facebook if they don’t feel they’re getting a lot of unwanted advertising shown to them all the time. They point out that a U.K. poll from the summer shows people like multiple pages but hide them from their news feed. With Facebook’s new model, maybe users get a better deal. Facebook fans now have a way to maintain valuable connections on their own terms.
Have you tried the Pages view? What do you think? Is it helping you connect to people and products you don’t often see in your news feed?
TIP: Let fans know they can ensure updates from your Page by alerting them to the “Get Notifications” option. Users can hover over the “Liked” button on a favorite page and then click “Get Notifications” to get updates similar to those from close friends.
The speed and volume of information in the modern age can make us feel like our heads may physically blow clean off our necks.
In the world of marketing communications and ebusiness, both client-side and agency colleagues I’ve spoken share the same sentiment: it’s extremely difficult to effectively utilize the small bucket of time they have every week to read and synthesize information.
Metalife, a futurist/cultural insights agency, calls this struggle information pin-balling. In short, human minds are not programmed to handle the volume and interactivity of modern information. As a result, most of us bounce from content to content, barely absorbing the surface level information and over-relying on a cloud of information to supplement our inability to store and recall facts.
After witnessing and experiencing this phenomenon myself, I’ve isolated a few problems and some simple solutions that I believe help our minds recall and absorb information.
Four things you do that exasperates information pin-balling:
Do you read a whitepaper while answering emails and listening to music? If so, comprehension levels are probably going to be low. There are lots of good studies out there that establish that humans are very poor at multi-tasking.
2. Poor (or lack of) archiving system.
What do you do after you stumble into a great financial services campaign from Germany? If you don’t have a system to log articles, you are not going to be able to action insights and best practices when the time comes to use it.
3. Lack of rigorous evaluation
The democratization of information has led to an explosion of agencies and experts. There are now more people than ever tasked with analyzing information and making strategic decisions. Unfortunately; due to lack of time, skill and/or will, there seems to be a lack of critical evaluation taking place.
Even if you didn’t major in statistics and it’s been a while since your last research methods class, you ought to be capable of assessing methodology, assumptions, limitations and similarities at a high level.
4. Quantity over Quality
Rather than deeply evaluating one sub-topic of a larger theme, many of us seem to get a thrill out of exploring 100 different topics at a surface level.
I don’t like to talk politics and religion on my blog, but when you live in the region that defined the term “Media Circus,” and is most often characterized by its political instability, sometimes you just have to say something.
Regardless of how bad The Innocence of Muslims video is (and it is BAD in every sense of the word - cheap, offensive, disgusting, etc..), people everywhere are giving the video much more respect and attention than it deserves. It has unfortunately sparked protests in many Muslim countries, some violence in the Middle East, and many anti-Muslim movements.
Rather than allow it to highlight violence, Lupe Fiasco is doing social media right by promoting the hashtag #MuhammadShowedMe. And who would have guessed - he’s helping the world see the peaceful majority of the Muslim World.
I’m not Muslim, but let me say #MuhammadShowedMe that true bravery is not to defeat your enemy, but to defeat the enmity in the heart of your enemy and make him a friend.
Unlike the more established marketing channels, social media is still in its relative infancy. For this reason, the life of a social media marketer is spent both learning and keeping his or her clients up to speed with the ever-changing social landscape. I believe one of the things that makes a successful as a social media agency is when clients are always asking questions and pushing us to define success for social media marketing, even though our world is still changing almost daily. And good for them! Any smart business person should be asking how she’ll know if she’s successful.
Recently, clients have been asking me how they’ll know if our community managers are succeeding in their craft. To me, that answer was simple: a healthy community.
That means the community manager is doing well, right? Well sort of.
Thanks to some smart thinking and advice from a few industry friends, and great partnership with a few clients who shared input on what they expected from their community managers, I’ve boiled down what it means to succeed as a community manager, taking that analysis beyond the traditional marketing KPIs and incorporating a more traditional performance review method.
Metric #1: Measuring Community Health
The community manager’s role is to get people to talk, share, and react to the brand in the communities he or she manages. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be set for each community based on the client’s objectives for that community and the community manager’s scope of work. Example metrics of community health (and therefore, the quality of the community manager’s output) are:
Metric #2: Tracking the Community Manager’s Deliverables
Additionally, there are certian skills and tasks required of a community manager that I can track to ensure that he or she is fulfilling the cope and meeting the client needs.
I’d recommend tracking all of these over time, rather than holding community managers to a specific goal, because there are many factors outside of their control that could affect results. Examples of scope fulfillment metrics include:
Examples of content fulfillment metrics include:
Metric #3: Alignment with Client Needs
There are also subjective measures that any agency with a focus on client success should care about. I recommend discussing these needs with our clients on at least a quarterly basis and ask our client partners to engage in an open dialogue with us, providing feedback on the community manager’s ability to do the following:
Last night I watched the documentary Flight 666 about the world tour rock legends Iron Maiden did back in 2008. It was very inspiring to watch because it showed me what you need to do to get to the top and stay there for 30 years.
Iron Maiden started as part of the New British Heavy Metal scene in the early eighties of the last century, and more or less became famous overnight. But asthe saying goes: “It’s easy to get to the top but very hard to stay there”. This proved to be true for almost all the other bands in the heavy metal genre; artists got swept away within ten years when grunge turned out to be the next big thing - but not Iron Maiden.
The secret? Iron Maiden didn’t try to fit in with new music flavors that came along. They kept doing what they do best; bring their own mix of hard rock music, mythical lyrics and theatrical showmanship. “If you like us, great. If you don’t, you’re a f…. no problem”, according to drummer and band comedian Nicko McBrain.
What they prove is that by sticking to your guns, instead of adjusting course when the water gets rough, you’ll have a far better chance to survive and thrive. The audience - or your customers for that matter - know when you’re the real deal or just selling out. By going with the flow you may be the flavor of the month, but people will ultimately trade you in for the next big thing.
This documentary shows that staying true to yourself can pay off big time. You still see a few guys doing what they love to do in the first place: play music in front of an audience. Their old Ford Transit turned into their own Boeing 747 (Ed Force One) and Birmingham became Costa Rica, but that didn’t change their attitude one bit.
The other thing that’s very clear when you watch this documentary: being humble about your success [instead of arrogant] and giving everything every night will create a big, loyal, and enthusiastic audience for a long period of time. In this case it’s a rockband, but this philosophy works for startups as well, no matter what product or service you deliver.
Stay humble and hungry! And have fun along the way!
These questions underline the central topics in Kevin & Jackie Freiberg and Dain Dunston’s terrific manifesto “Innovate or parish! What’s your strategy?“ that I just came across. This is a great document that helps organizations implement innovation in their schemes. Approaching it step by step, using the Tata Nano as an example -with $2100 a game changer in the car industry-, the authors give a systematic “how to” to develop the capacity to see what others can’t see and turn those insights into innovations faster that our competitors do.
Surely, there are thousands of “How to” guides out there but this one is different. I was touched because it grasps me by the collar and it encourages me to actually do something. That’s the stuff I like to read.
Read the full document here.
The 4 leadership strategies that accelerate innovation:
1. Be comfortable being uncomfortable.
2. Have guts to live dangerously
3. Shake it up! Hire some CRAZIES.
4. Be hungry for change.
Three quotes to encourage you to read the whole piece:
“If you want to lead innovation and inspire a team of nanovators you must notice, lead and disrupt to make the world better.”
“Innovators aren’t necessarily futurists, but they do pay close attention to the early warning signs that precede major cultural, societal, and market shifts. They tune in to the ways that seemingly unrelated patterns are shaping our world.”
“You can’t win with yesterday’s ideas, so what are the big, converging trends that are headed your way?”
Some applications and products even go a step past recommendation, straight to authoritative delivery. For example, Soundrop is an application from SoundCloud that uses Spotify, allowing users to build and play social playlists. And for people (like me) who spend a solid portion of the day listening to music while working, lists of well-curated music are an easy way to get an hours-long soundtrack. This means that by listening to a socially curated list, you might not even know what you’re listening to — just where you’re listening to it. It’s sort of like listening to a movie soundtrack. While soundtracks are curated by a professional, these playlists are curated by friends and connections you trust. They work so well, that occasionally when asked, “What music are you listening to?” the answer is now, “Where are you listening to music?”
The same applies to shopping and purchasing decisions. Birchbox will send you a monthly shipment of beauty product samples. Stitchfix sends clothes tailored to your style. Wittlebee sends clothes tailored to your toddler’s style. If there were a service that sent my clothing recommendations culled from my best friends’ Svpply and Pinterest feeds, I’d probably take it!
Social recommendations are becoming an increasingly important way of doing business. So much so, that successful companies, products, and apps are iterating on the idea, introducing consumers and audiences into an environment where they are guided by these recommendations — often without realizing it. It goes right past understanding your audience, straight to serving them in the most personalized way possible.
I turned 23 yesterday, and despite my happiness with where I am (literally and figuratively), I’ve been feeling strangely introspective, hence a return — or at least an attempted return — to content creation. After 23 years of life experience and 6 years of work experience, here’s progress I’m proud of:
There aren’t “things I wish I’d known when I was a teen.” I did a lot of stupid, risky things when I was younger: four a.m. solo walks home, working with people who didn’t appreciate my attitude (I always try to stay happy and positive - even when it bugs the crap out of people), dating idiots because they liked attention not me, borrowing money off ‘friends’ who would sooner take advantage of my weak moment instead of help me out. These weren’t mistakes, they were young experiences that helped me decide what’s appropriate, what’s not, and how I want to act and live as an adult.
What’s life without the cringe-worthy memory of idiotically chugging a beer while dancing to indie rock at an unnamed Beirut bar? I shake my head every time I think about asking dates to order me my go-to cocktail: Malibu and Diet Coke with a cherry. But I wouldn’t be the same Nadine without my streaked past.
Risks are worth it. My spontaneity has served me well. Being spontaneous is scary, especially with a paltry bank account. I’ve already spent much of my 20s with checking account balances in the double-digits, yet somehow wasn’t afraid of taking massive risks. Had I held my breath with two months of living expenses saved, packed three suitcases, and gotten on a one-way flight back to Boston, I would never have met my loves nor found out that I will always be in serious love with my Lebanon and the people who make an effort to be in it.
People are weird, but you shouldn’t change them, and you shouldn’t change yourself to fit them. Friends and acquaintances do dumb things you wish they wouldn’t. You do things they wish you wouldn’t. I dated someone off-and-on for years who I so desperately wanted to be with. Seriously. He didn’t feel the same, and it turns out he was right. At the time, I would have changed myself completely if it meant a future together. I’m positive we would have broken up and never spoken again. Now, I don’t have to change a thing about me for us, and.. well, we’re wonderful.
Sincerity always works. Ironically, I learned how to be sincere in Beirut, a city slanderously noted for cutthroat career types and outspoken residents. I surrounded myself with sincere, honest people when I was young in the city and have the strong friendships to show for it. When making new friends after a country move, the people I most connected with are the ones that met true-honest-Nadine, including my beau — with whom I was most honest of all. My first (and only) real girlfriend at the American University of Beirut was one of the most genuine souls I’ve ever known, and our relationship thrived on this openness and trust. Now she’s in Fairfax, VA. And I can still say that she is my rock. My homegirl.
Speak up. Beirut taught me this one, with its social networks, confidence, and outspoken characters. A year ago I would never have written something so personal, let alone post and promote it. I like my voice, and I like sharing my thoughts. It makes me feel accountable on a different level. Self-promotion is ok, and it’s necessary. I need to be my own biggest fan and cheerleader, because if I’m not, no one will be.
It’s taken me a long time to really learn these things, and I’m proud of what I know. And of course, I surely have a long way to go.
Communication is easy when everyone is constantly connected, and that’s how we live in today’s digital world. But, are we really communicating? With all the different media available, deciding how to communicate is just as important as what we say.
Knowing what to say and when to say it is not enough. It’s the Digital Days, so we must decide on HOW to communicate.
Consider the five levels of communication:
Level 1: Message into the Ether
Snail mail and email have a few things in common: They can be of any length, and they are not conversational. Emails and letters are sent out, and then new messages are composed and returned. Sometimes it takes days or weeks before a response arrives. Since emails and letters are not conversational (they lump all points together rather than go point, counterpoint, point, etc…), there is a HIGH LEVEL of misunderstanding with this medium of communication. As many of us know, little issues can escalate over email.
Level 2: Back-and-Forth Messaging
Whether it is via instant message or text, the next level of communication is conversational but still conducted remotely. As points go back and forth, there is a more casual exchange that is also more direct. Misunderstandings are less likely because each message is quick and each participant can detect if they were misunderstood by the reply. However, the bite-size quality of this form of messaging means it’s not well-suited to discussing complex matters.
Level 3: A Verbal Dialog
In a verbal exchange, participants get to voice their opinions and relay a whole new level of data through their inflection. Inflection reveals elements like frustration, annoyance, and stress that are harder to detect in written communication. One major drawback is that verbal discussions often require scheduling. But, as my colleagues can attest, when a customer is upset I believe it is best to just pick up the phone and discuss it!
Level 4: The In-Person Spontaneous Discussion
When something important comes up, you might decide to just drop by a colleague’s desk and start talking. Such spontaneous discussions are often more effective than messages and phone conversations. The benefits of visually seeing each other will add a whole new level of mutual understanding to the discussion. Of course, there are numerous detriments to this level of communication. The fact that others are likely in the vicinity makes it less intimate, and spontaneity doesn’t work for everyone.
Level 5: The In-Person Scheduled Discussion
Planning an in-person discussion allows both participants to think about the topic in advance. The communication that ensues is the most dynamic possible. Inflection and visual cues allow you to gather non-verbal intelligence to ensure clarity. Privacy ensures comfort. Of course, a scheduled discussion doesn’t necessarily mean that it is formal. I will often plan an important conversation to address a concern over breakfast or lunch. What makes this level of communication so sacred is the mutually agreed upon time set aside for direct discussion.
After understanding the five levels of communication, you can start to decide which level is most appropriate for particular situations. With so many options, it can be easy to choose the path of least resistance rather than focusing on your objective and which level of communication will help you achieve it.
We get in trouble when we chose to communicate the easy way versus the right way. As our channels for communication expand, we must endeavor to be more thoughtful about how and when we communicate. In my research of admired leaders, I have found that communication judgment is an increasingly important factor of success. Knowing what can be done with “Level 2” communication versus what must be done “Level 5” is a sign of sound leadership instinct.
Can a workforce be innovative if the environment does not encourage new perspectives, opposing points of view or radically different approaches to status quo? Do employees thrive in a workplace that doesn’t empower them to participate?
Can the work environment actually push leaders with dreams of enabling social prosperity, into managers and executives who lead by enforcing a climate of compliance (typically yielding high turnover and limited loyalty)? Do quarterly reports, earning expectations, and other short-term measures distract us from our vision?
I grapple with these questions thinking of the future companies that are going to be created here at Seeqnce, as the team strives to accelerate innovation. Right now, we are going over more than 250 applicants for the 2012 Seeqnce Accelerator Program, and in a couple of months, we will have 8 resident startups.
Who defines the culture of an organization? Is it the leadership of an organization… or is it the employees? As we look at today’s more agile and innovative organizations, we find traditional roles of leaders and employees are becoming less distinct.
Perhaps these blurred hierarchies are a reflection of today’s marketplace, where customers co-produce the goods they consume. Buyers and sellers are interchangeable on marketplace platforms like eBay and Amazon; readers are becoming writers on news sites and the blogosphere; moviegoers are creating their own films and asking to post them on Cinemoz. Today’s economy calls for co-creation of value.
In the context of a global professional services organization such as Seeqnce, which I’ve seen emphasizes relationships in the creation of value, what kind of shift is desirable between employees and their seniors? How can people work together to co-create value for the organization, the clients, and each other?
I have found certain guiding principles to be essential in creating a successful work environment, where our people and our leaders not only co-exist and collaborate, but co-create value in new ways:
I think startups will benefit from this the most.
1. Share the vision
Leaders and founders must articulate their vision and agenda — uniting the whole organization in pursuit of it. To determine your alignment with the values of your organization ask yourself, what really matters to me? What do I stand for? Do my work activities represent my values to my family and friends? Both founders and employees need to be inspired and motivated by this shared vision.
2 . Accept that you don’t have all the answers
To do the right thing, you don’t have to be right. A true leader knows he or she doesn’t have all the answers, and seeks and considers other points of view. In highly competitive work environments, where employees are rewarded for having the “right” answers, we need to step out of our comfort zones to offer our own thinking and be open to all viewpoints — ultimately discovering the best possible solution.
3. Give feedback. Up, down and sideways
If you cultivate an innovative mindset or culture, you are continually trying new approaches… and learning as you go. It is particularly important in organizations where creativity and innovative thinking are encouraged, to provide continual feedback, up to your boss, down to your staff, and sideways to your peers. Annual feedback cycles are compliance exercises and not optimized for accelerated innovation. Monthly goal setting and self-assessment may be a more effective solution.
4 . Get fricking real!
Be true to yourself and your colleagues. Don’t forget luck, timing, and the support of a great team may have contributed to your individual success. Be humble, be genuine, and be grounded. Avoid arrogance. I think success is having the peace of mind that you’ve done the best you can, and you’ve kicked butt doing it.
5. Commit to your values
The rubber meets the road where you commit to a shared vision for your organization and the values that support it. I read an article once that asked “Are you prepared to fire your highest revenue generating employee or your highest ranking executive if they don’t live the values you’ve articulated and shared?” I tried putting myself in that position in my head, thinking it would be a difficult decision… and in the end, it wasn’t all that difficult. What are your non-negotiables? Can you truly commit to the vision and not waver?
Although the action plan seems simple, the challenge is consistency on an individual level, and broad-based adoption organizationally. How do we sustain momentum? We don’t wait for change to happen. We make it happen — together. We are the change agents and the sooner we recognize the duality of our roles as leaders and team players, the sooner we will co-create an innovative place to work for everyone in the organization.
That’s all the ranting I have for today.
Monday I start a new gig at yet another early-stage company. The company is called Seeqnce, and we are located on Central Bank Street in the midst of the very busy town of Hamra (busy, buzzing towns are always ideal when living the ‘startup life’).
I did not, of course, take on this new adventure solely due to location. I found a very good friend in the founder, who is quite the impressive guy, and was an immediate fan of the idea and business model (coincidentally, I met him around the time I started falling in love with entrepreneurial minds and helping set up the Ideaz Prize) but was truly sold upon meeting with all five of the “go-to-guys” (check out the photo below- pretty cool, eh?)
After all, building a successful company is “not about the idea, it is about the execution,” and these 5 gentlemen have a long history of ‘crushing it’.
You are probably wondering what I’ll be doing do at this point. I can’t share that yet, but I’m looking forward to posting more about progress soon, and of course, I’ll be ranting away about digital marketing and communication strategies as the title of this blog promises.
For now, you can learn some info by checking out www.seeqnce.com and following the Seeqnce blog. What I can share now, however, is that my self-proclaimed title “Ambassador of Awesomness” is officially set in stone as of Monday morning.
Seeqnce is moving faster than any startup I have either worked at or with. Truth be told, it’s pretty exhilarating. I have been moving at lightspeed the second I walked in the door (some six months ago when I walked in just to get some playstation time with them) and have been loving every minute of it. The fact that I now get to say I work there genuinely makes life awesome[r] for me.
If there’s anything I’ve learned with the startups I’ve worked with before: speed is key in building a successful company, particularly in the tech space. In fact, it is a part of the key drivers of the startup culture (here’s a quick tip if you follow this blog for the sake of reading my pointers on communication strategies: if you do not have the defining points of your culture written down and shared with your employees, do so now! )
One last share- for those that think the early startup life is glamorous: LOL. It can definitely be fun, and a pretty crazy ride, but takes a lot of time, energy, and a helluvalot of sacrifice to make a company as awesome as Seeqnce and the startups they accelerate work.
I’m giving up something HUGE to be a part of it all, and as excited as I am, even I have to keep reminding myself that there’s nothing like a little sacrifice to make the reward of building a kickass company that much sweeter.