I was interviewed a while back for an article in PM Network magazine about using blogs and wikis for project management. The article is out in the August issue and you can read a PDF version of it on their web site. The magazine goes out to the Project Management Institute‘s 200,000 members located in 125 countries around the world.
ASAE just posted the sign-up form for using their networking application for the Annual meeting in Boston this summer. This is a pretty cool little application from IntroNetworks that maps the social network of attendees, attempting to facilitate more contacts.
However. There is a rather unfriendly disclaimer posted above the join button, which includes this paragraph (emphasis added):
Really? ASAE isn’t in the online community business? I don’t agree with that statement, so I guess I shouldn’t enter the network.
This is what happens when a lawyer, who is paid to play defense, is given too much sway over what goes onto your site. What a horrible message for any association to put in front their most committed and active members.
I would delete the entire statement and replace it with this: We are in the business of facilitating your member community. We welcome you to our network and encourage you to use it to maximize the value of your Annual meeting experience!
Update: Peter Hutchins from ASAE posted in the comments that they are working on updating the page and have removed the paragraph I mentioned as a first step. Thanks for listening and acting, Peter!
As promised, here is the podcast that Ben and I recorded this morning. It runs just shy of 17 minutes.
One note: In the recording we mention that the Attention Trust sells attention data. I believe this is incorrect in that they offer a service for storing your own attention data online but do not sell that data. What benefit this offers to the individual is unclear to me. Maybe Ed Batista can chime in here on the comments on what benefit you would receive from loading your data into one of their providers.
Ben Martin and I will be facilitating a session at the upcoming ASAE & the Center Membership and Marketing Conference. We had a short article in an ASAE newsletter recently on this very topic as a lead-in to the session. You can read the full text of it below. Ben and I will also be recording a short podcast on this topic early next week. Check back here on Tuesday to listen in.
Hope to see you at the session!
Investing in the Attention Economy
By C. David Gammel, CAE, and Ben Martin, CAE
The amount of available information is growing exponentially, but human attention seems to be a limited resource. We each only have a finite number of hours in the day with which to live our personal and professional lives. The same is true for our members.
In fact, associations compete with each other and thousands of other organizations for the attention of their members. People are distracted by millions of inconsequential information sources and must filter them out in order to recognize the things that are most important to them.
To cope, many of our members work in a state of continuous partial attention. Often they divide their attention among several things at once, such as scanning e-mail or news headlines while talking on a conference call. Your latest carefully crafted newsletter might only receive a cursory glance before hitting the electronic version of the circular file. The implication: Your members must be able to quickly scan and discern the value of your communications if you want them to invest a higher level of attention.
This has significant implications for membership recruitment and retention. Members, for instance, base their decision to renew their memberships on the basis of their feelings of connection and engagement. Thatâs why itâs crucial that you get an appropriate amount of your membersâ attention. Generally speaking, a prospect’s attention must be 100 percent captured for at least a few moments in order to complete any financial transaction.
The study of attention is called attention economics–a combination of economic analysis and data about the things to which people give their attention. Steve Gillmor, a popular writer and podcaster on Web technology, turned this research into a trend by gathering data on what people are paying attention to on the Internet and leveraging that data to provide better service and content.
Attention economics raises many questions for associations. How much of your membersâ attention do you receive? How much do you want? What will you need to give to your members in exchange for their attention? Does an increase in attention per member mean that your revenue per member will increase as well?
To help answer these questions and further explore this topic, be sure to come to âThe Unsession: How to Invest in the Attention Economyâ? at ASAE & the Center for Association Leadershipâs 2006 Marketing & Membership Conference. This âunsessionâ? will be highly interactive and driven by the participants. Weâre limiting attendance to the first 40 participants, so be sure to arrive early!
Update: Ed Batista, Executive Director of the Attention Trust, posted some more details about Steve Gillmor’s role in developing the idea of the attention economy. Thanks, Ed! (Ed’s personal blog was just added to Tom Peters’ blogroll. Nice!)
I was thinking today about how so much of the Web 2.0 hype centers around baking customer communities right into the product. Given that, why did all the virtual community services and consulting firms implode as the bubble burst on the dot com boom? Those companies were some of the first to go.
My guess is that most of those services were positioned as add-ons to existing endeavors. Sell widgets? You need a widget discussion board on your web site! Peripheral stuff was the first to be cut as budgets tightened and these slapped on communities were easy targets for cutting.
What seems different now is that it is about building customer/member participation right in from the start and making the communities that form an integral part of the whole system. With that approach, I think online community should be a more enduring feature even if the web takes another hit.
(Be sure to check out Ben Martin’s comments about forming vs. finding communities. I think he is right on the mark.)
The sole purpose for an intranet is to facilitate the work of staff in pursuit of the organization’s objectives. Nothing more, nothing less.
A good metric for this is that one of the first things that staff do when starting a project is to voluntarily create a space for it on your intranet. If the intranet is considered a prerequisite for success by staff, then you have succeeded!
I was prompted to post this after reading Nick Besseling’s rant on how stickiness is not a good goal for an intranet (I agree).
Michelle Frisque is thinking and writing about how to reinvent the American Library Association as part of a pilot course about inventing Library 2.0. Every association should be so lucky as to have members like Michelle, Michael, Jenny and others who are dedicated to their profession and will blog about how the association could best serve them and their peers.
Michelle also mentioned one of my articles in another post, which made my day!
Michelle recently wrote about how the ALA web site could do a better job of serving new members:
ALA is a huge organization. I remember when I first joined I found it very confusing. How do you get involved? What is ALA doing that affects me? What will my membership in ALA do for me? How do I network? None of this is easy to find on the Web site.
Something I got from Michelle’s post is the idea of customizing your association home page for new members. Help them discover the organization by highlighting information, services and opportunities on the home page when that new member is logged in. Change it every week or every day! You can phase out the special content over time or allow the member to turn it off when they no longer need it. It should be fairly evergreen content, which is great because it is relatively easy to manage once it is developed.
A few other ideas: Provide the same content in an RSS feed! Create a serial e-mail autoresponder for new members that gives them a new tip about the association every day for two week after they join! You get the idea.
(A serial e-mail autoresponder is an e-mail announcement list where all the messages are written and queued up so that a new subscriber gets each message in order at a specified interval. These have been around a long time but I’ve never heard of an association using them, oddly enough. Seems like a natural for a lot of association promotions and content.)
John Robb has been blogging for the past couple of years about “the intersection of terrorism, infrastructure and markets.” I’ve been following John’s stuff since he was the CEO at Userland and was leading discussions about knowledge blogging. Many of the trends he discusses about warfare and terrorism have much applicability to self-forming groups and how they may impact associations. Hopefully that won’t involve a rogue committee bombing the electrical lines to your headquarters, however.
I suggest you add his blog, Global Guerrillas, to your subscription list.
I agree with those authors that more often than not, a single CMS will not be appropriate for your public site and your intranet site. The requirements for each are going to be pretty different once you get past basic authoring and content management features. Even for associations, whose public web sites could be considered more intranet-like than the usual corporate web site, are going to be hard pressed to find a single tool that effectively supports both.
Microsoft just released some sample code with which to create RSS feeds from Microsoft CRM. I think this is a great development and provides a lot of value to users of the product. Being able to subscribe to a feed for a particular person, or class of persons, in a CRM database allows you to track them within your existing tools rather than having to remember to login to a portal page or application.
In fact, I talk about RSS for association management systems in an article I wrote for Forum Magazine that should be out in the April issue. Below is an excerpt of the bit about adding RSS to AMS:
I believe that the potential of RSS as a communication and productivity tool is just beginning to be fully explored. In addition to continuing to use it share and raise awareness of web-based content, I believe that RSS can be put to use in strengthening the relationship between a member and her association.
One use specific to the association market is around increasing member awareness. Take the common scenario of an association staffer who manages a committee or board and serves as an ex officio member of the group. What if your association management system provided an RSS feed for each member, providing updates every time something new happens with that member. You could then subscribe to the feed of each member on the committee and be immediately updated when they register for a conference, renew their membership, buy a product or miss an important continuing education deadline. Imagine the value of being fully aware of your committee members’ individual interactions with the association in a way that comes directly to your desktop rather than you having to mine your AMS on a daily basis to find the same information.
The same kind of feed could be exposed to your members, secured with their user name and password. This feed could alert them when a product they purchased from you ships, deadlines to renew membership or continuing education credits, etc. This would allow them to be much more aware of what your association is doing for them on a daily basis without having to take overt steps to find it out.
This kind of awareness raising could improve the experience for everyone in the association by making better use of the data that flows through your systems on a daily basis to strengthen the relationship between members and the association.