I just heard about a new open source application for tracking discussion of specific issues in social media (blogs, tags, podcasts, wikis, etc.) online: The BuzzMonitor. This was developed by the World Bank for their own purposes and then released as an open source application. From the about page:
Like many organizations, we started listening to blogs and other forms of social media by subscribing to a blog search engine RSS feed but quickly understood it was not enough. The World Bank is a global institution and we needed to listen in multiple languages, across multiple plaforms. We needed something that would aggregate all this content, help us make sense of it and allow us to collaborate around it. At the time, no solution (either commercial or open source) met those requirements so we decided to build our own.
We were playing with Drupal, a solid, open-source content and community platform for different pilots. Drupal being so flexible and module oriented, we decided to write the specifications for a “super aggregator” that would help us people understand, follow and collaborate around mentions of the organization online.
I asked Pierre Guillaume, who announced it on the Social Media Measurement Group on Facebook, how they are using it internally at the World Bank. His response:
Thanks David. We are rolling it out to communicators across the bank with a guide on how to use tagging, voting, rss feeds etc…there is, not surprisingly, a bit of a learning curve both in terms of “getting” social media and using the tool but some champions are emerging, embedding findings obtained through the buzzmonitor in their regular comm and web reports, adding relevant bloggers to their contacts etc.. We also feature the most recently voted on items on a page available two clicks down from the intranet home page, for all staff to see.
Sounds like a great tool for raising awareness of how issues important to the Bank are evolving online. I recommend listening to the online conversation as a key activity for any organization and this looks like a great tool for assisting in that. I have downloaded the application and will give it a try this week.
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.
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.)
I have posted the full text of the RSS for Associations article that was published in Association Forum of Chicagoland‘s Forum Magazine this month.
Also, I wanted to remind you that the Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems event is being held next Thursday. This is one of the few places to learn about the somewhat tricky topic of creating value for your association by integrating your data and content management systems. Register today!
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.
Shawn Lea has posted a list of innovations that hotels are probably going to implement over the next few years.
One thing not on the list that they could do pretty much immediately for meetings is to create an RSS Channel that displays recent entries from an RSS feed designated by the meeting organizers.
If you’ve gone to enough meetings you are probably familiar with the hotel tv channel that provides information about the day’s events, which is usually out-of-date and/or redundant to material you already have in print sitting on your bedside table. Not very useful. A TV channel that scrolled RSS entries created by the organizers would be much more compelling and timely and might even be watched. You could even have a podcast voice-over if you wanted to take it a step further.
It should be incredibly simple to manage something like this. Just point the system at the RSS feed for the event blog (you are event blogging your meetings, right?). Boom, all set.
To whatever industry that provides hotel tv systems, get on the RSS bandwagon!
I am working on an article about RSS for the Association Forum, which is based in Chicago. I’d like to talk with a few associations located there that are currently or are planning to use RSS. Drop me a note if you have a lead for me. Thanks!
Microsoft has just published an extension to RSS and OPML to enable updates to be share back and forth (I think) via RSS and OPML.
Ray Ozzie has a post on how it came about.
Boxwood Technology is pretty much on top of the heap for hosted job board services for associations. (Disclaimer: I was a client of theirs when I worked at ASHA and I serve with Boxwood Chairman John Bell on the ASAE Tech Council.) They have just added RSS feeds to their service, which is a fantastic extension. Now job seekers can subscribe to all new jobs or to the results of a specific search. After they subscribe, any newly posted jobs will appear in their newsreader of choice. Nice! They should mention this service on their web site.
For an example, see ASAE’s job center. There is an orange RSS button at the bottom of the screen.
A couple of improvements I think they could make include:
- Include an RSS autodiscovery tag in the page markup that will allow people to more easily subscribe with newsreaders that look for the tag.
- Make the RSS buttom a direct link to the RSS feed rather than a pop-up window (not sure why you would want a pop-up unless they are trying to discourage indexing of the feeds).
- Add some buttons for easily subscribing via some of the more popular online newsreaders (such as Yahoo!, bloglines, google, etc.).
Jeff De Cagna and I are partnering up on a presentation for ASAE’s Great Ideas conferences where we will introduce podcasting and discuss its possible use by associations. The fun part is that we will actually record and assemble a podcast during the session by recording interviews with some of the attendees.
The Distance Learning Coalition was kind enough to invite Jeff and I to present to their group on Thursday, which was a wonderful opportunity for us to make a dry run through our material and the process of recording with a live group. Here is the podcast if you would like to listen to it. Two of the attendees decided to hijack our podcast and record their own mini show within ours, which was a lot of fun.
Jeff and I pre-recorded some sections of the podcast via a Skype call. As you can tell, I need to get a much better microphone for these things.