Saturday, January 31, 2009

Facebook and Fundraising

I have mentioned I work for a technology company. It is actually an agency that assists nonprofit organizations in their online communication and fund raising efforts. So about a year ago, the hermit stuck his foot out of his shell and dipped his big toe in to the wide, facebook ocean.

The abuse your psyche takes while adopting facebook behavior is subject matter for another post. I just want to mention one of the transitional states that happened for me, and what propelled me into an advocate for the tool.

I joined facebook about a week before the video application was added. As soon as I saw that you could send private and public video messages to your friends walls and inboxes, facebook felt much better to me. I can't tell you the number of facebook friends who were so excited to get video messages. Especially in those early days, it was the only thing that kept me using the tool.

Then I was asked to pledge a dollar amount for this non profit group that I really cared about. In the process of figuring out how I would meet my pledge, I decided to use my facebook network. At the time I sent out this video, I had about 330 "facebook friends."

I reached my stated pledge goal within four days. By the time the day of the event came, we had raised 180% of my pledge, just using facebook.

There are dozens of little observations that can be made and applied to fund raising strategies that I could share with you from that little experience. However, at the end of the day, I really just applied sound fund raising principles and applied them to the facebook distribution channel.
I owned facebook on this one.
I honestly was able to do this without facebook owning me.

So the hermit comes late to the party, flirts with technology from a distance, and then is able to use the tool (without my facebook friends being used I didn't get punched in the throat one time!) and not be owned by the technology.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twitter for Listening or Broadcasting?

Ongoing Experiment Number One - Corporate Contest for who is listening the best.

Like me, corporations are just figuring out a strategy in using twitter. They are hiring social media executives to handle their online image. I'm sure the job description for these people is a work in process. There are CFOs who are pulling their hair out trying to assess the value of the position with old tools of analysis.

The promise of tools like twitter and the corporate use of them is that corporate communication will become more and more decentralized and an ear turned to the individual consumer will grow bigger.

Like an anti-Pinocchio (sort of).

My first contest was an experiment between homedepot and lowes.
Both home improvement giants have corporate twitter accounts.
I tweet out
"hey @lowes and @homedepot, my wife doesn't believe me that you are listening. Prove her wrong and throw her some love (she loves coupons)"

Very lame attempt to garner some swag, I know. But I was most interested in response time and if we can honestly show or predict anything from these very unscientific results.

Home Depot hits me back with this reply 90 minutes later.

Pretty impressive seeing that I didn't get their name correct. Part of Nick Jayres' job is to keep a search feed for everyone who is tweeting keywords like "homedepot" or "home depot" or "big orange box".

Sarah, from the home depot corporate communications is actually managing the corporate account. Following and Followers of just over 3,000 in each list. 1,249 tweets since last May acting mostly as a customer service line.

Lowes, who I can see by their twitter profile, jumped on twitter two weeks ago - is yet to hit me back. They have just over 100 followers and 100 they are following. Have tweeted out 11 times as "the corporation" - no name behind the profile. Looks like they are on the path to use the tool as a distribution channel for their broadcast communication.

I think I'm going to do this a few more times with a few more contests before I make any general observations about the nature of this beast.

Blogging Anxiety

So I have been at this for about four days now.

I don't mind the pressure to create content - I just don't like pressure that surrounds me to create content where I don't get genuine face to face feedback.

This is not my diary.
This is ego-driven in sooo many ways. I suspect it (blogging) is for many people.
When I get four comments from four people in the first few days of doing this I am stoked. Stoked in a coy way. A way that doesn't let on to the fact that technology isn't owning me, your opinion of me owns me.

So, to escape the content/performance/blogging anxiety that I will no doubt feel to a greater degree next week...I am going to own this blog and do some experiments with it.
If you are a lurking hermit at heart (like me) here is your chance to watch me run the social media and technology maze. What I hope we can process, together, are the most redeemable parts of this stuff. This way we can keep each other grounded and I won't get punched in the throat too often.

1/2 second of my 15 minutes of fame

Most of my office mates are on twitter.
Most of them were on twitter very early. It's just who they are.
But not me, my cell phone isn't even text enabled.

"That's OK. You can tweet from your computer using tweetdeck."

I say, "No. It will own me."

Then a business associate at another company in Iowa says to me.

"I want to follow you on twitter, what's your twitter name?"

She says, "Follow Lance Armstrong, he is so interesting."

So the hermit signs up for his account, follows the people he knows in the office, follows the Iowa lady, and follows Lance.

She is right. He is interesting to follow.
A couple weeks into lurking around the whole thing, posting once a week, logging in twice a week. I go ahead and hit Lance with this...and he tweets me back!

Now I'm cranked.
Twitter is the best thing ever.
I am score-boarding the entire office.
I call my brother and tell him to sign up for twitter.
I feel like a piece of me has given over to the dark side as I bask in my glory.
A few seconds of my 15 minutes of fame ticked off... and went straight into the twitter toilet?

I can feel myself becoming different. Am I starting to become owned? Is this what it feels like? If I ever interrupt a conversation I am having with you by answering a tweet - punch me in the throat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rude Technology

I heard the author of this book interviewed on local public radio today.
While talking about various subjects that are brought up in his book, the interviewer asked the author about if we are generally more rude now than we were fifty or one hundred years ago. He made an interesting comment...
Technology has made it easier for culture to be shaped and emerge as new. We certainly have more opportunity to accidentally violate emerging or new rules we are not familiar with. It does not mean we care less about civility and conformity now than we did before.

It made me realize that this is a reason why I am typically slow to fully adopt and engage some technologies. I don't know the rules, and I don't want to thought of as rude. Interestingly enough, the longer I stay away from an emerging technology, the more I am prone to be defined as rude by the early and mainstream adopters who have already begun to establish what is and is not civil.

My default rule of thumb has been to stay out, observe, glean the most redeemable parts of the technology, use it without being owned by it, and be willing to be called rude.

Now that I'm actively experimenting with this stuff--- I guess I'm inadvertently helping to shape the civility.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dont Want A Blog

That was the title of my very first blog. I set it up three years ago just to experiment with the posting routine and the html and the whole process. I posted several items to just figure out embed code and such. -- I was hot stuff. But I wasn't going to be a blogger. That label ought to be reserved for a professional class anyway (the label, not the activity) I think the same thing about golf/golfer.

So it turns out that blogs are now the destination for content. Most everything else in the social media world works as a distribution channel.

So it feels that blogs have become the center of it all. The platform that the rest of social media propels itself from. Before blogs, what was at the center of it all? Newspapers? Publishing Companies? Media Conglomerates?
Do you think those people are freaking out right now?

Cell Phones are the Devil

My brother in law is a classic example of a guy who wants access to people when he wants access to people. Now that the technology exists for the to be a 24/7 possibility, I somehow have an obligation to him (and everyone else) to make myself completely accessible at every waking moment.

He finally gets a hold of me...
Why isn't your cell phone on?

He knows why. We have had this discussion before. He represents the group think that is pulling me to think just like him. Apparently, our society is evolving into people that believe a lack of always-available connectivity is my signal that I don't care about people who know my cell number.

Can I have a cell and not be owned by it?
How can I use emerging technologies and not be owned by them?
Text-enabling my phone frightens me because I think it will own me.
I'm flirting with twitter, but I think it is the bogey man to my obsessive personality type.

So what do I do to work this stuff out?
I start my first blog.
In a few years and a few posts, who knows who will own me?