Tag Archives: blog

put something down on it

Photo by flickr.com/slimdandy

Photo by flickr.com/slimdandy

Chris Penn reflected today on the future of podcasting, in response to something Chris Brogan wrote about the fragmentation of social media, and as a result, of its community and events.

Chris has been putting out a very professional, targeted, and (from what I can tell) successful podcast called The Financial Aid Podcast. In today’s post, he reflects on the really incredible time commitment necessary to really make a podcast work.

It takes a lot of time (and other resources) on a day-to-day basis to produce and promote a high caliber podcast like his. It also takes a serious, unflinching commitment of those resources over a long period of time to have a shot at any real, lasting success.

This is true for all social media projects, and it’s important to discuss the long haul very explicitly, with all your internal stakeholders, before getting started.

It is so important that everyone agrees at the outset what success will look like, how it will be measured, at what intervals you will be measuring your target metrics, and what weight you will assign to each interval over time.

Now is the time to find out whether or not key people expect to see thousands of active community members on your site within three months, or if you can agree on making a somewhat more gradual, sustainable growth curve your goal.

And get it in writing. Remember that staff turnover in nonprofits is incredibly rapid, and plan for each interval, if necessary, being evaluated by an entirely different IT team, different full-time staff, different executive director, different board of directors.

Ideally, you want to create a document that, if sealed in a time capsule and opened up by strangers, would spell out exactly what your goals, strategies, and tactics are going to be, and what responses you plan to put into effect if different benchmarks are met — or not.

It’s a technology plan, or even a social media plan, and it should be integrated, if at all possible, with your development plan and your communications plan. Write it up, get your board to sign off on it. Record it in the minutes.

Putting together this kind of an integrated plan requires a lot more time, it’s true, than just saying Let’s start a blog/podcast/facebook group and see where it takes us. But it can also offer much greater returns, and can give you two solid legs to stand on when times are tight and people start eying your budget as potential fat to be trimmed.

As Penn writes,

There is far more yet to come, if you are willing to have the vision, commitment, and dedication to achieve long term success. If you’re not willing to make that commitment, that’s okay, but don’t expect the same results as the folks who are.

more blogs about buildings and food

Blahg Blahg Blahg

I gave a presentation on blogging — should you blog? why and how? — at Geek Girl Camp Cape Cod Thursday night. It was a first-time event, this Geek Girl Camp thing, and so it was hard to know quite what to expect.

I knew that it was sold out. There were 100 women and girls crammed into one conference room at the Heritage House Hotel in Hyannis.

Any event that succeeds in drawing over 100 women who are interested in technology, but consider themselves beginners, to an evening of speakers on a variety of wonky topics has to be deemed a success on some level.

The Digital Divide

Now, Cape Cod as a region is admittedly not the most technologically engaged.

As a region, the Cape is:

  • Home to a disproportionate number of seniors and retirees, compared with other parts of the US
  • Geographically cut off from the mainland, which is often more of a psychological barrier than a physical one
  • Composed of many diffuse neighborhoods, and few centralized downtowns
  • Dependent on a heavily seasonal economy, with a large population living at or near the poverty line

So the digital divide here runs wide and deep.

I do a lot of work with local artists in my line of work, helping them use technology, the internet, online communities, etc., to market themselves and their work, to make a greater portion of their income from their art, and to connect with and get support from other artists.

So I’m used to speaking about these issues to individuals and groups who are at least hesitant about technology, if not downright resistant.

That’s why it’s so useful to be tugged in the right direction on a regular basis by folks like Chris Brogan, who once again sounds the call in his newsletter to avoid talking about the technology in favor of talking about what it can do for people:

If you lead into the talk with words like “wiki” and “RSS” and “Twitter,” you might as well turn around and walk out. Business is about doing business, not learning new and amazing things.

It’s your job as the cool hunter to sift through it all, find the stuff that’s a good fit, and talk about how it applies to the way things are being done now.

Free and Easy

Talks about starting a blog (including mine) tend to include a song and dance about how it’s “free” and “easy.”

When of course it’s really neither.

Blogs take time, and your time is worth a lot. We only have a certain amount of hours in a day. If you spend a few hours blogging, that’s a few hours you didn’t spend on other parts of your job, or on your family, or on feeding the hungry, or sleeping or dancing or holding hands.

And writing isn’t “easy” for the majority of the population, either. It happens to be something I’m pretty happy doing, but that’s far from true for everybody.

I know that if someone went around talking about how solving simultaneous equations was free and easy, I’d want to smack them, hard.

So it’s really relative. And to people who remain skeptical, it is anything but self-evident that any of this is worth their time and the grief it might take them to learn it.

But at least ten of those women and girls assembled on Thursday night told me on their way out the door that their minds had been changed about the usefulness of blogs, and that they were going to start blogs that very night.

So we must be doing something right.

And maybe ten other people in that room heard my talk, and decided that nope, writing a blog right now wasn’t right for them.

And that’s a good result, too.

I’m less of an evangelist these days than an educator. Here’s what this thing is, here’s how it might help, and here’s why it might not.

Act accordingly.

What about you? Do you evangelize? Or do you do something else?

my dinner with @kanter

So I met Beth Kanter and her delightful family for dinner tonight in Falmouth! We were going to meet at a Cambodian restaurant that I had never been to before, but alas, I have still never been to it, because it was shuttered for the Dead Season (January-February-March, when all Cape Cod restaurateurs go to Florida).

So we hightailed it back to Falmouth, where we found that my favorite Indian restaurant was ALSO closed for the Dead Season. But then we ended up at a rather acceptable place that turned out to have rather less-than-acceptable service,but at least the company was stellar.

We talked about Twitter, blogging, Second Life, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, WESTAF, people we know in common, people we should know in common, and many many other terribly important things, like the fact that The Sharing Foundation has somehow slipped into second place in this much-blogged competition — but only by a measly ten donors!

Beth has a plan to pull out all the stops and blow away the competition on Monday, but I’m going to go a little early and urge you, if you haven’t already, to give just $10 to help Cambodian kids get a better life.

Now, I’ve been pitching this cause for a little while now, after I heard about it from Beth and read more about it on the Sharing Foundation’s website. But it wasn’t until today that I found out that the founder, Dr. Nancy Hendrie, is an alumna of my very own Mount Holyoke College! (Read the article linked to there — she’s got a really amazing life story.)

Dr. Hendrie is from the class of ’54, and I am from the class of ’93, so it’s unlikely that our paths will cross at reunion this year. But I have been asked to present to both MHC reunion weekends this year on Web 2.0 for nonprofits, and now I am thinking that I will use The Sharing Foundation — and Beth Kanter’s use of social media to raise significant funds in its honor — as a main case study during those classes this spring.

So thank you, Beth, for an excellent Saturday night out on the town with your family, whom I mostly shamefully ignored so that I could talk Geek with you. Please apologize to them for my atrocious manners, explain away anything bizarre or awkward that I might have said as being possibly due to a lack of Vitamin C, and let’s do it again soon.

Bethsquared