By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
These are all things we learned as children, and they still have meaning today, though the thought that you shouldn’t say anything disrespectful is a broad-brush view. Criticism — even constructive criticism — sometimes doesn’t seem “nice.” But thinking before you speak has always been a hallmark of business communication, and today this means that you also should think before hitting “publish,” “send” or “print.”
In a haste to get content out into the social space, many organizations are not taking the time to read what they write through the eyes of others before sending it out for mass consumption. This is a huge mistake. Etiquette is as important in social media as it is at a business meeting — maybe even more so. At a business meeting you have the added luxury of voice intonation and inflection, which provides the audience with the context for your sarcasm or light-hearted joking. These things don’t always translate well in a 140-character post, and most times fall flat or even backfire in such a limited space.
Social media communication is like any other form of communication. It is not what you say or your intent that matters. What matters is how your audience interprets your message. The saying goes that there are three sides to every story — my side, your side and the truth — and the only side that matters is your side. Remember that on the other end of that “post” button are flesh-and-blood humans, and they have their own frame of reference through which they are digesting your words. Every number on your friend or follower list corresponds to a human being, with his or her own narrative and set of feelings. Remember to take that into consideration when posting.
The use of the cocktail party analogy for social media has been used many times in books published on the subject, and it's a good analogy to keep in mind. Before you click “post,” ask yourself this question: “If I were standing in a room with all those on my friend/follower list, would I say this out loud to them?” If you wouldn't, or if you would really have to think about it, then you shouldn’t post it online.
This is not to say that you should censor yourself or not inject your personality into what you post. Instead, I’m suggesting that you be smart and considerate — talk about others the way you’d want people to talk about you. It’s just pure common sense, and it seems to be lacking in some areas of social media these days.
If you are just venturing into social media, you might want to keep these 10 commandments of social media handy, the article is not all inclusive of what you need to know but it is a great start.
Do you agree or disagree that we’ve lost some of our manners in social media?
Based on attendance at a recent workshop held by the Association Forum of Chicagolandinterest in integrated media is huge. Integrating traditional print content across digital and mobile platforms is of increasing importance as organizations see their audience accessing information in different ways at different times.
A number of attendees were either not familiar with or concerned that they lacked the real-time content-management systems robust enough to serve content across print, digital and mobile platforms. However, the recent data on the increased usage of mobile devices, generated much interest in the discussion of delivering content via mobile devices and specifically in mobile apps.
Three important reasons why mobile is crucial to your communication plans:
1. 85 percent of the U.S. population has a cell phone today and 100 percent will have one by 2013. – Pew Research
2. 126 million people or 39.5 percent of the population will be accessing the web via mobile browser by 2013. – eMarketer
3. Mobile ad revenues are up 80 percent in 2010 to $743 million and should top $1.1 billion in 2011 and $2.4 billion by 2014. – eMarketer
Top five things to know before you take your content mobile:
Not all app developers can build an app to work and look the same across all cell phone platforms. Make sure they can build apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, iPad and Windows OS platforms. Ask the developer to demonstrate the apps so you can see how they look on each device.
There are true native apps, browser-based WAPS and hybrids of the two. Know the differences; the pros and cons, so you know what would work best for you; and what you are getting for your investment.
Make sure there is a marketing plan around the app — you can’t just “build it and they will come.” Know who is responsible for creating the plan, executing the details and measuring the outcomes.
Clarify who will create and manage the content that will reside on the app. It is a great deal of work to have constantly updated content, especially during an event. Make sure you have appointed someone to be in charge of this, and that he or she has the knowledge and manpower to do it.
Know whether there is sponsorship/advertising real estate within the app, who will sell it and how revenue will be shared.
What is your biggest hurdle when considering entering the mobile arena with your content?
By: Eric Jacobson, Vice President Media Development
Like many nonprofits using electronic newsletters to communicate you are likely wondering how to use the data you collect to improve your audience engagement. The technology of an online newsletter provides the advantage of data you were never able to collect with a print newsletter. The disadvantage of that much data is the overwhelming nature of interpreting all of it. To help you navigate this sea of information here are six important enewsletter data points to track.
1. Date Sent - Date your enewsletter deployed.
2. Sent - Number of enewsletters deployed.
3. Number Delivered - Number of enewsletters successfully delivered.
4. Delivery Rate - % of delivered versus sent. Your goal should be 90% or higher. Be sure to keep your address list clean and delete any bad addresses.
5. Total Open - Number of enewsletters opened. This includes those who use a preview pane in their email program but who might not have actually read your enewsletter.
6. Total Open Rate - % of Number Delivered versus Total Number Opened
In a perfect world everyone who receives your enewsletter would open and read it but, in reality, they won't. According to Mailermailer only 17% of enewsletters sent by nonprofits are opened as compared to over 20% for corporate business. Your inaugural enewsletter will likely have the highest open rate, because it's new. Don't be discouraged when your numbers decrease as you settle into your average percentages.
Watch your statistics over time to spot trends. If your percentages are steadily decreasing, your audience is disengaging. Change up your content in order to grab their attention.
Another couple of stats that you may want to keep track of over time to help you learn about your audience are;
Forwards - addresses of those to whom a copy of your enewsletter was forwarded by someone on your distribution list.
Opt-Outs - addresses of those who have asked to no longer receive your enewsletter.
Total Clicks and Click Thru Rate - these tell you how many recipients clicked on articles, photos, links, polls or ads within your enewsetter.
Clicks, forwards and opt-outs are all indications of audience engagement, or lack there of so the more clicks, forwards and the less opt-outs the better. Obviously the goal is to have an enewsletter that is opened, read, clicked on and forwarded. To make sure it is follow these six rules of enewsletter engagement:
1. Make your subject line clever and on-point
2. Make articles compelling and relevant
3. Tell stories from the viewpoint of your volunteers, members and donors
4. Include images
5. Incorporate urgency and curiosity
6. Include interactive elements, like polls
Lastly, don't give up because your statistics are low. It is very likely your electronic version is doing better than your print version did, you just had no way of tracking your audience interest in the printed version. At least with an electronic version you have the knowledge to help you make the necessary content changes to make your enewsletter a success. And you have the advantage of using social media to promote and share your content to increase your reach and spread the word about your nonprofit mission, goals and needs.
How do you use your enewsletter metrics to increase the success rate of your communication programs?
By: Robin Pearson, Director Professional Development and Patient Education
In the world of health care professionals, the words “medical education” have come to be associated with programs and activities that are “designated for credit,” which very broadly means they follow rules and guidelines set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.
In the world of the pharmaceutical industry, anything not “designated for credit” is lumped into the category of “promotional,” which again very broadly, suggests that anything with that label is to be considered a “commercial” for a particular drug. To be labeled “promotional” is to be tarred with a very biased brush.
To my mind, there is at least a third category (actually there’s a fourth, as well, which include publications … but that’s an entirely different topic). That category is nonaccredited professional education. This type of education, especially when sponsored by a professional medical association, follows almost all the same guidelines as CME, but lacks the credit that accompanies the former.
How important is that credit? Not very, according to some recent studies. The 2009 Annual Physicians’ CME Preferences Survey has been looking at this very issue for more than 17 years. This independent survey of more than 1,500 physicians found that while almost all of the respondents participated in CME activities primarily for the credit, 72 percent indicated that the key driver for their participation was not the credit, but to obtain the latest clinical data regarding patient treatment/management options, and 71 percent said they participated in order to validate their own treatment strategies. Clearly, the most important draw to clinicians is the quality of the education — not the need to earn credit, as evidenced by an overall drop in the average number of credits earned by physicians in the 2009 survey.
We’re in a time when any medical education funded by pharmaceutical companies is looked upon suspiciously — designated for credit or not. What we should be looking at, I think, is the value of the education, rather than the funding, or its designation. And I’m not alone. At a recent resident’s symposium, a well-regarded physician and chairman of a university hospital medical department, was asked by a resident (who was attending a program funded by a pharmaceutical company that did not include CME credit), if they shouldn’t regard education and clinical investigations funded by these companies suspiciously.
The physician’s response couldn’t have been clearer. “Whether funded by pharmaceutical companies or not,” he suggested, “you must look closely at the data. Was the study well-designed? Was it appropriately powered? Was it analyzed and reported with scientific rigor? If you can answer yes to all of those questions — then it doesn’t matter where the funding came from.”
I suggest the same is true of professional education. If the material is accurate, scientifically rigorous and evidence-based, then whether designated for credit or not, it will be valuable to health care professionals. It is the education — not the credit — that matters.