Martin Luther King did not march from Selma to Montgomery with five friends.  If he had it would have not received nearly the same level of media attention and probably would not be part of the civil rights narrative.  Instead, Martin Luther King accepted everyone who believed that there was problem and a better future existed.  Have you considered the question, “who is volunteering to join your cause?”  You may not know everyone who has enrolled.  Some may be friends of friends and far beyond your network.  Word of mouth is a difficult metric to track but a powerful point of engagement.  As Simon Sinek says, “a leader is only a leader when people are willing to follow them.  Structuring people’s role is about managing, not leading.”  Have you collected a following that has a desire to help others?

Call Me

Would you post this image of a telephone on your website?  Perhaps you would but certainly you would put a phone number after it, right?  Then why do we place Facebook and Twitter icons all over our web platforms without our handles?  Lots of conversations about what is the right balance.  What are you doing on your online platforms?

It is About Trust

I will donate $10,000 to the Red Cross if I get 10,000 followers on my Twitter account in the next 48-hours.

If you want transactional followers and fans then bait them with offers of cash, giveaways, and prizes but do not be surprised when then abandon you when you can not longer entertain them.  Even Oprah had a hard time topping the car giveaway on her TV show.

If you desire real advocates, people who want to march with you through rainbows and snow, success and set-backs, then give the $10,000 to the Red Cross up front and do not make it conditional.  If you desire an honest relationship, you must demonstrate genuine intentions up-front and walk your talk.  Take a look at all the “if this then that” campaigns on social media right now.  You would stand out from the crowd by saying we gave already and here are the stories of three members from our community that have also given.  If you must, make the second part of your gift conditional on entering into true and genuine relationships with people.  Let your online community direct another $5,000 in giving but avoid making it transactional or conditional.  Give or don’t, but please stop holding charities hostage so you can have more followers on Twitter, it is dishonest and is not a relationship.

By they way, I just made a gift to the Red Cross and will continue to give.  I look forward to hearing your stories of what causes you support and why.

The Games Are Coming, The Games Are Coming!

A revolution in education is taking place and I am not talking about the one being debated at many state houses across the country.  The real change is the marriage of gaming into online education platforms.  At the SXSW conference, Seth Priebatsch of SCVGR spoke about this very reality.  Education is ideally suited to incorporate gaming.  It have grades, divisions, tests, graduations, and scores.  Education should be the leader in partnering with the online gaming culture and yet it has missed the boat.  Why?  Education models are based on avoiding failing and discipline, two elements that are not inherent in most games.  What if you started school with zero ‘user’ points?  You accumulated points as you mastered different ‘levels’ or subjects.  At the end of the year there would be a dispersion of total points but remarkably nobody would be getting a D or even an F (the failure model), instead everyone would have progressed forward, some more than others but everyone has moved in a positive direction.  If you could carry your ‘ability’ forward to the next year, you would already have a virtual avatar with skills accumulated from previous grades.  Thing how hard it is to unsubscribe to a game when you already have so much sweet equity into the creation of a character and his/her attributes.  Badges, avatars, recognition, and access to the next level are already appearing in everything from the Khan Academy to RossettaStone courses.  It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when gaming becomes embedded in education.

Which Platform?

A large percentage of what I heard in conversations at SXSW this year was about social media platform selection.  Last year’s conference was focused on location based services like foursquare.  This platform has not been as sticky as anticipated, although there is still a strong movement.  One piece of resistance seems to come from the discomfort of everyone knowing where we are all the time.  Take the Loopt application for mobile phones.  You provide your friends with permission and they can track down your current location.  You have closed the ecosystem so it is not a live feed to the world but still do you want even your closest circle of friends to know your whereabouts all the time?  Talking with my dentist this morning he relayed his experience of using Social Living to attract new clients.  His initially saw a surge in potential clients.  However, few if any Social Living members continued to do business with him beyond the deal.  What if we could go and look at our friend’s location profile and see which dentists they frequented?  I suggest that would be a far sticker equation than the Groupon deal of the day.  It is still not a complete recommendation but it speaks to a crossroads between Yelp and outright ‘you have to go see ….’ from our friends.

The big take-away was that Facebook is going to cement its place in both the personal and business communities the platform of choice.  This is not to say that Linkedin is obsolete.  Panelist at SXSW raved about Linkedin’s search ability to track networks and connections.  But there appears to be an increased practice to use one platform to manage all of one’s contacts.  The former practice of separating our business and personal lives may be returning to a confluence.  This clearly brings up more questions, especially for those who use a platform for their personal use in a manner that may diverge from the business values they represent during the day.  That said, our digital footprint is only a search engine away from being revealed to the world. 

What platform are you using and why?

Can You Pull as Well as You Push?

Just home from the South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX.  For the uninitiated this is where Twitter once launched, Mike Tyson and Pee Wee Herman make appearances to handout ice cream, and the term ‘geek’ is said with respect.  There was great information to take-in and anxiety over what was missed.  One quick take-away was the tension between push and pull.  Most of us think about this in the context of social media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) but even in a broader definition, is your enterprise set-up to have a genuine conversation with its fans and supporters?  Or are you a push only organization?  Do you stand on the stage and give your acceptance speech everyday or is it more of a question and answer session after the award ceremony (which is still all push since it is about you)?  Have you thought about shining your spotlight on a fan and enhance their standing without directly thinking about your cause?  Consider highlighting a little known blogger or community activist who is putting out great content/work and happens to be a fan.  What would it look like if you promoted their work?  This gift of a broader platform may just create a deeper relationship that ultimately benefits your enterprise because now you have launched a free agent to promote good works.  Even the Oscars need a comic relief and presenters to keep us tuned-in, otherwise all the winners could upload YouTube clips and we could watch them later.  Consider the power of push and pull used in tandem.  

Too Many Choices

If you unclear about what you believe then you need to offer more choices.  One of the brilliant parts of Facebook is that you can ‘like’ something or comment.  There is no dislike, maybe like, perhaps, somewhat, neither buttons.  You post your thoughts and friends and fans can support your sentiment or not.  

Are you clear about what you believe?  Perhaps one way to test this is to run a brief poll.  Ask for responses.  Can you accept like and dislike as the only two answers?  If you need a five point scale to measure your impact, perhaps you have not been clear about your cause.  One colleague put it this way, a question that requires a range of satisfaction should really say, ‘I agree and I am a fan’ and then all the other possible answers should say, ‘I do not agree but I am this polite/diplomatic.’

If you sat in a moving vehicle watching just the GPS display without looking out the window, how would it change your perception of travel?  My two kids create this virtual journey for themselves on the way to school.  They were fascinated to watch the route were taking, actual speed, and direction of travel.  Suddenly they shouted, ‘you are speeding!’  The GPS listed the posted speed limit on the screen and they noticed that we were now going 40 MPH in a 35 MPH zone.  What they did not see was that we were in a line of traffic that was all moving at this speed. 

One of the challenges with snapshots, dashboards, or any measurement instrument is that they do not tell the whole story.  The GPS unit provides accurate location and selected data.  What is does not address is the environmental issues.  Is there snow on the roads?  Am I being tailgated or is the driver in front directionally challenged?  Is there a passing zone or what is the speed of moving traffic.  If our driving skills were evaluated just in the context of watching a GPS unit there may be periods of alarm.  But when the realities of the real-time variables were considered, an appropriate course of action is being executed.

What do you measure?  How do you evaluate the data?  What questions does it raise?