Categories
Career changing

April 29, 2010 Acquia Webinar

On April 29, I listened in on a webinar being held by Acquia. The subject: Acquia JumpStart Program: Plant The Seeds for Drupal Success. The panelists were Bryan House (who was also hosting), Joanne Dawson and Robert Douglass.

All participants were sent a “Getting Started with Drupal Checklist”. Acquia’s mission is to help organizations of all sizes be successful with Drupal – this includes hosting, development, support and training, among other features. Stated simply, Drupal is an open-source forums (community) software solution (although it can be used for a lot more than that).

Acquia comes into a business and performs the Drupal installation themselves. Since Drupal installation can be rather difficult, this is a significant way to slash ramp-up time. The on-site Acquia personnel perform training, including, on the first day, an introduction, user management, content creation, taxonomy (organizing and categorizing the site), blocks (small boxes/widgets of content that can appear on the sides of a page) and the menu.

One pleasant addition is Acquia’s own forums, which are used to enhance their tech support. They have regular technical support, naturally, but it’s refreshing to see the company using its own product and feeling free enough to allow its users to help one another.

Acquia Drupal currently uses the most recent version of Drupal 6.

Categories
Career changing

May 3, 2010 EditMe Webinar

On May 3rd, I listened in on a webinar given by EditMe. The topic was: Content Creation in the Middle of the Sales Funnel.

The guest speaker was John C. Stone III.

The reason for the webinar was, while prospects come through the top of the sales funnel as always (inquiries), where people download papers, comment on blogs, sign up for webinars, etc., they can take a good seven to nine exposures to the product before they move through the funnel. Essentially, there needs to be a nurturing of these leads in order to eventually convert them into prospects and later sales. The top of the funnel is clogged. How does a company begin to move people down the chute?

Building authentic content offers a lot of value. This helps the top of the funnel with SEO and to bring prospects in. But it also helps with the middle, in order to continue to bring them toward the culmination, which is a sale.

Good content should be sharable, entertaining, stylized, etc.

The first thing to do is, define the revenue architecture. It’s a blueprint for how to attract, nurture, sell and expand profitable relationships with chosen customers.

Look at the Lead to Close process. This is where the greatest level of transformation has occurred in the past few years. What’s the web presence? What’s the content? Is it customized (and is too much time being spent on this?)? Is there an inbound lead capture? An outbound process? Integrating campaigns can help, as can enhancing the web site presence. Social media engagement can increase awareness and build “street cred”.

What’s the Go to Market Strategy? Is the messaging persuasive? Are the programs innovative? How can the company leverage a sustainable content process? It helps to have easily editable, sharable, single source content.

How are the Customer Relationships? Is there good client retention? How is account management handled?

Social collaboration is the key. Sales personnel need to share their information and be able to tap into what is essentially a bank of relevant data about their prospects. The best way to do this is by using easy to use collaborative software — otherwise, it won’t be used by the sales force. This is items like Wikis, blogs, etc. Essentially the idea is to allow for rapid collaborative use. Where EditMe can come in is in creating a uniform sales portal and promoting efficiency as sales representatives will have better and more up to date information at their fingertips. It should be a living document, collaborated on by as many experts in a company as possible. This can lead to more conversions.

The upshot of it all — working together is what it’s all about.

Categories
Career changing

April 23, 2010 Community Roundtable

Today I attended the Community Roundtable’s CR Live Lunch at Flatbread Company in Bedford, Massachusetts. The Community Roundtable is “a peer network for community managers and social media practioners.”.

The lunch is a chance to get together and talk about not just community management but also social media in general, technology and any other subject that is of interest. Today’s discussions, in part, centered around Twitter and its earlier days, e. g. discovering retweeting, etc. Rachel Happe, our hostess, has been on Twitter for quite a while and remembers the community there as being considerably smaller and easier to make connections. She felt she was able to see people she knew either socially or professionally (or both) and then quickly see how (if) they were interconnected in other ways. Some of that has been lost as Twitter has grown exponentially.

The subject of automatic direct messages thanking one for following came up. Everyone agreed that these are essentially impersonal and of little value. However, direct messages should still be read as people do sometimes still take the time to handcraft them.

Since the group was slanted more than usual in the direction of people with more technical backgrounds (versus those of us who were or are more strictly community managers), the discussion turned more technical.

Another topic was company social media strategies. So many companies realize they have to “get on Twitter” but are unclear as to what, exactly, they may be getting themselves into. Once the pipeline is opened, and customer commenting (and complaining!) becomes more open and easier, that pipeline really cannot be shut off. The bell cannot be unrung. Hence companies may not understand that they are essentially getting into a marriage versus a few dates with the hot new technology.

There was also a discussion about meta tagging on the ‘Web. How are things categorized? One question was about music (more specifically, classical music). There is already some offline categorization. So how can that be adequately and accurately transferred to the Internet?

Finally, and this is one of the areas where the Community Roundtable truly excels, the participants talked a little bit about how isolating the role sometimes can be. For a social and community-oriented type of role, a lot of us spend a great deal of time at our desks. Even within a larger company not specifically dedicated to online communities, the role of the Community Manager can sometimes be a solitary one. Being together, exchanging information or tips, or just commiserating, does a lot to dispel any feelings of isolation.

Categories
Events

Tech Boston

On the third Tuesday of every month, Boston 501 Tech Club holds a meeting. This is a group of nonprofit tech folk.

According to their site, “TechFoundation is a Cambridge-based, nonprofit organization that delivers technology, expertise and capital to help nonprofit organizations serve humanity. TechFoundation envisions a world where nonprofit organizations can access the same resources to serve humanity that businesses use to create wealth.

It’s good to see people using their technical prowess for good. I attended both the Ethos Roundtable and the Tuesday meeting/networking event yesterday.

The Ethos Roundtable, for the two times I’ve attended it, has been a place to see tech related to nonprofits. These seem to be demos of software that’s close to being ready for prime time but perhaps isn’t 100%, absolutely, there yet. Yesterday’s demo was of NPO Connect.

The concept behind NPO Connect is fairly straightforward — there are people in the nonprofit sector who wish to be mentors, and there are people who are also in the nonprofit sector who wish to be mentored (the site and its creators refer to these persons as “mentees”, a usage that, for me, is akin to nails on a chalkboard. The word is protegés). The site is intended to bring those people together. It is still in the pilot stage.

The real value to NPO Connect is in bringing mentors and protegés together, as LinkedIn, oddly enough, does not include mentorships (in either direction) as a contact setting choice. This is NPO Connect’s virtue, but it does not cover everything it should.

A glaring (to my mind, anyway) omission was in verification of expert status. A potential mentor can say that s/he is an expert at, say, working with a Board of Directors, but where is the confirmation of said expertise? This isn’t even necessarily people out and out fibbing. It can be exaggerration (e. g. people feel they’re better at doing something than they truly are), or mistake or not understanding what may be entailed. After all, a tiny day care center and Harvard University are both, essentially, nonprofits. But the director of the one-person shop day care center and the President of Harvard probably have different experiences in working with Boards. This is not to discount the day care center director’s experiences and, in fact, that person’s experiences may even turn out to be superior to those of the Harvard President.

But there’s no way to tell.

Suggestions abounded. Add a recommendations section. Add something about the fact that nonprofits don’t always work together. Add a reputation score. Make the expertise areas (one of them was, simply, Information Technology) more specific so that people can better gauge whether they really are proficient. Allow the importing of a resume from LinkedIn. Make names link to Google searches (not really feasible for people with common names — how many Mike Browns do you know?).

All of these are decent suggestions. As a Data Analyst type, I see a few issues with the database itself. The software permits of some sorting and filtering but not on every category. Hence you can sort by name but not filter by nonprofits where people have worked. What if I only wish to work with people in the hospice field? There doesn’t seem to be a way to get that granular.

One of the issues is the relation of the data itself. The database has, unfortunately, more than one many-to-many relationships. A person can work (or have worked) at more than one nonprofit and of course a nonprofit can have more than one current or past employees. A person can have more than one expertises and an expertise has several persons attached to it. A person can be both a mentor and a protegé (no, I will never write “mentee” unless I have to – ugh!).

Hence the software has promise but it needs some work.

As for the event that followed, this is a pleasant group. I particularly enjoyed interacting with Brian Thompson, Tara Greco and Brian Sadie. While the world’s problems might not have all been solved, enough laughter was exchanged so as to make it a great event and I look forward to the next one, on May 18th.

Categories
Career changing

EditMe Webinar

Today I attended (well, I listened to it in my home computer room) the EditMe Webinar. EditMe is a company that puts out WYSIWYG collaborative site software. E. g. you can make a Wiki or a forums site with their software.

I am not a customer but I am interested in pretty much anything to do with Social Media and, in particular, Community Management, as I’ve been managing Able2know for over 7 1/2 years now. It’s funny as I have more Community Management experience than many vaunted experts.

The main takeaways were as follows:

  • The Community is about them, not you
  • Make a big deal about participation. Thank everyone!
  • Use an Editorial Calendar, e. g. keep a schedule of when you’re going to release content, and keep it regular

I particularly loved that last one.

Communities and Social Media aren’t necessarily tough but they can be extraordinarily time-consuming. Everything you can do to help yourself in that area is a good thing.

Categories
Career changing

Job Interview!

I’ve got an interview today, from 12:30 to 2. Since I’ve got to get downtown in order to accomplish said interview, I’m kinda stuck with being unable to eat at any convenient time beforehand. This is normally not a huge issue, but when you’re a serious weight loser such as myself, it can get dicey if you can’t eat every few hours or so. I’ll live, I’ll be fine, I just like more order with such things.

Now, about the interview. It is not specifically for a social media marketing position. But there is some web development needed, so I can get more experience in that area. Plus it’s at a place I like. I don’t want to give away too much but I’m very happy with, for example, the location. I’d get to keep my gym, and be able to use public transportation. Both of those things dovetail with my fitness goals.

Speaking of fitness goals, I’m running a 5K on Sunday. It promises to rain. Ah, well. It’s not like I’ve never run in the rain before. I’m not so sweet that I’ll melt.

In the meantime, as I search for a good pin to put on my blazer, I look forward to today’s meeting and contemplate what it might end up meaning to me.

Onward!

Categories
Career changing

Happy Birthday Mass Innovation!

One of the best events I go to these days is Mass Innovation.

This event has been running for a year now, and it showcases startups all over the Bay State. These startups need not be in the technical area (although they often are). Plus it’s a great chance to network and meet others in not only the Social Media field but in any number of related fields. After all, most companies could use a Social Media Specialist, so why not spread the business cards around to them as well?

Bobbie Carlton does a fine job in getting the evening rolling. Competitors are encouraged to submit their ideas. Five are selected by the attendees’ votes and are given a short period of time (5 or 10 minutes) to present their ideas to the assembled guests. But all is not lost for those who weren’t voted a presentation slot. They are still invited to come in and man a booth. Often the booths hold better presentations than the actual Powerpoint shows.

The idea behind the event is to showcase up and coming entrepreneurs and offer support to them. Is anyone hired through this event? Hard to say. But awareness is raised, and attendees get to meet and bond. The best part of the event is that it’s completely portable — it could (and should!) happen in any city.

After all, there’s innovation going on all over the globe.

Categories
Career changing

Community Roundtable

Today I attended the CR lunch, which is always lively and pleasant. We didn’t really have a specific theme to discuss but it is good to be around fellow Community Manager types. People who speak my language, as it were. I need to add their blog to my blogroll.

Categories
Events

Andala

Oh my gosh I love this place: http://www.meetup.com/OpenCoffee-Cambridge-Meetup/

It’s a gathering, every Wednesday, of startup entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. For my job search/career change, it’s not exactly like I’m fishing in the precisely correct pond.

But … I don’t care. The people are so lovely, it doesn’t seem to matter.

I think it’s good to be out and about, plus these are folks who may need my services in the future. Hence I need to exercise my patience. In the meantime, it’s also an insanely gorgeous day. Here in New England, those don’t come around too often, particularly in April. I’ll ignore my allergies as best I can and, once the MeetUp is done, go home and sit on my front porch, reading more about web dev and trying to change my skin color from #ffffff to about #ffffcc or so. It’ll be bad if I bypass that and go straight to #ff0000 or so.

Categories
Personal

Monday morning dash

The weekend was good but I overdid it. It’s weird — hmm, maybe it’s not — but as I get older it takes less and less for me to say that I overdid it.

It was the Celtics game. No, it was all the reading! No, it was … hmm, I dunno.

Anyway, onto the week. Today I’m meeting with a person who might actually have something for me. It’s a startup but from small acorns come mighty oaks. Plus I feel it’s important to meet with people, even if it ultimately does not end up a destination. I’m trying to get myself up and out of the house as much as possible — staying home is not a great thing to be doing all the time, despite all the necessary web development work I’ve gotta do, and the applications that need to go winging their way around the ‘Net.

And so today, out I go. I’ve never really had this kind of a meeting before, where I’m talking to someone where, if there is to be compensation, it would be, most likely, in the form of equity. There’s something scary yet oddly liberating in that.

Off the cliff I go.