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Wednesday
Aug272014

Is the #ALSIceBucketChallenge a case of slacktivism?

If you’re online you have surely seen people pouring ice water on their heads over the last couple of weeks. It’s one of the most viral trends I have ever witnessed and that alone makes it worth talking about.

What is the #ALSicebucketchallenge

Simply put, the ice bucket challenge is a challenge where people pour a bucket of ice water over their head and then challenge three friends to do the same within 24 hours.  If they don’t pour the ice water over their heads they need to donate $100 to XYZ charity. Friends of Pete Frates turned the ice bucket challenge into an ALS cause. Check out this video if you want to find out more about how it happened.  

Is this slacktivism?

The challenge states that you don’t have to donate if you pour ice water over your head. That means that you’re getting OUT of donating by doing this. Because of this, and the fact that there are definitely many people who are taking part in the challenge and not donating, many have started complaining about this challenge, suggesting that this challenge was a case of slacktivism - making it seem like you’re doing something for a charity without doing anything at all.

However, it quickly became clear to me that this was more than just slacktivism because slacktivism doesn’t raise money.  Since July 2014 millions of dollars have been raised for ALS. The numbers are so big and growing so fast that I can’t even keep up with them.

When I looked on Friday night ALS Canada was about to hit three million dollars in donations. On Tuesday afternoon, they were over eight million dollars. Pouring ice water on your head HAS helped - enormously.

Isn’t it a waste of water?

I admit, this argument bothers me. Especially here in Canada, we have no lack of fresh water. Do other people lack it? Yes, of course. But we can’t send the bucket of ice water to the people who need it, so, in my opinion, using it to help a different cause is a great thing to do. In places where they have less water (like California) people are being discouraged to take the challenge.

My favourite response with regards to water is from Matt Damon who I think does a great job of making serious issues fun with his organization water.org. He did the ice bucket challenge by using water from the toilets in his house. His toilet water is cleaner than a lot of drinking water is in other countries, making the clean water message come through without sounding bitter, all while doing the ALS challenge.

What made this so successful?

This is one of the most successful fundraising campaigns ever, and the reason for that is because it wasn’t started by a charity, it was started by people. People decided to do this and they challenged their friends. They combined this with something that is fun to watch (videos of people dousing themselves in ice water are funny) and easy to do (we all have access to water and ice). It’s a story, it’s personal, and it doesn’t feel like it’s driven by someone just asking for money.

I doubt this will be reproducible for ALS, but for now, they are getting more money in donations than they ever have before and if they can keep even a small percentage of their new donors engaged to give again in the future, this is a HUGE win for them.

What I would love to see is the world getting behind causes like this on a regular basis. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if influencers with as much of an audience as Mark Zuckerberg and Will Smith got behind a charity on a yearly basis? I have no idea what the next funny challenge will be or if we’ll ever see something like this again, but it has been fascinating to witness and speaks volumes about the amazing potential that the internet and social media has for doing good.

My turn!

I could hardly write a post about this without doing it myself so I took the challenge on with two of my kids. We also made a donation. Here’s the video!

Your turn! Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve done the ice bucket challenge, if you’ve donated to ALS and if you think this is a worthwhile cause.

Wednesday
Aug202014

The Value of Recommendations and Endorsements on LinkedIn

There are a lot of great features on LinkedIn.  It’s a great way to connect and network, to find great information and it’s a great way to get social proof on whether someone is worth working with.

Because of that last point I think the recommendations and endorsements are really key.

Recommendations

Recommendations are the equivalent of testimonials on LinkedIn.  They are given by people who have taken the time to write out why they have liked working with you, working for you, or having hired you.

3 tips for getting and using recommendations

1)   Ask for them.  LinkedIn makes this easy, but make sure to tell people what you’re looking for, and only ask people who could easily give you a testimonial (don’t ask people who have never worked with you!)

2)   Ask people who have given you recommendations if you can use them in other marketing materials and on your web site.

3)   Give recommendations to others.  This is not only a nice thing to do, it will often encourage the recipient to do the same for you.  

Here are a few of my recommendations.  They’re really nice to have :)

Endorsements

Endorsements are a way to tell people what you do and prove that people know what you do.  You set up a list of skills and people will click if they agree that you do that.

It is important not to think that these are testimonials.  Most of the people who endorse you haven’t even worked with you.  Instead it is a way to know if what you’re putting out into the world is what you want.  The important thing is to take it all with a grain of salt.  People will likely endorse you for things they’ve never seen you do, or for things you don’t even do.  Take it as an overall measure of what you’re projecting to the world.  

For example, if you are a mortgage broker and you are being endorsed for planning events then you need to figure out how to put more information about your ability to help with mortgages.  If you have skills that you wish weren’t there at all (maybe someone added them or you’ve changed your focus) you can edit them.

 

Challenge

1) Make a list of 3 people you could write a recommendation for.  What are the key points that you would share in a testimonial about them.  Go write them now!

2) Go to LinkedIn and endorse 5 people.

Leave us a comment here or on Facebook to let us know you did it!

Thursday
Jul312014

Social Capital Conference: Four years of fabulous

Saying goodbye with a smile.As some of you may know, Lara and I announced a couple weeks ago that this year would be our last organizing the Social Capital Conference. As two of the founders - and since Lara had the idea in the first place - I’m sure you can imagine that it was a difficult decision. It’s something we’ve been talking about for two years, in fact. We could see that long ago that we’d have to do something that far back. 

The conference was born out of a need for an opportunity to learn more about social media without having to travel far and wide to do it. We wanted to focus on learning and partnered with uOttawa and then Algonquin to support that focus. It worked. Year after year, we’ve had such amazing feedback on the sessions and the vibe of the conference. We’ve even had people fly in from both ends of the country to attend! It has been wonderful to be in the position of helping people learn more, inspiring people to progress to new levels, and bring them together to make connections. (If you’re not meeting people in person that you connect with online, you’re really missing out - I promise.)

This year, we’ve been seeing a lot of growth in our business and it was as clear as it could be that it was time to step away from Social Capital. We made the decision and we have no regrets or second thoughts. Our final conference was a success that we’re very proud of - we’re leaving this chapter of our work on a definite high note. 

I must admit that I was nervous going into this year’s conference. The growth we’ve experienced in our business made it harder to give the conference the attention it deserves and needs. It has been a fabulous problem to have, but it was still a problem. It was also the catalyst for finally letting go. We managed to pull off the day successfully and I hope that our divided focus wasn’t too painfully obvious. 

The speakers I got to see (Ariadni Athanassiadis, Mel Coulson, and Jenna Jacobson) were all really good. I learned more about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and other intellectual property concerns in social media from Ariadni - and had a chance to whine a wee bit about how frustrating it all is. Mel was so funny and engaging and gave amazing examples of great content and advice for creating great content. (Also, because she’s a professional writer, I was just wee bit nervous that she sat in on my writer’s block session! But I learned after it was over that she’s a very good live tweeter.) Jenna Jacobson, our closing kenote (sadly, logistics caused me to miss Trefor Munn-Venn’s in the morning…sigh) gave such a fun and informative overview of what “social capital” really is. I was excited about her presentation and she did a great job. I also think I want to get a PhD in information just like her. Because the things she’s studying sound incredibly fascinating (and also very cool)!

The networking is always my favourite part of the conference. Unfortunately, I get pulled in roughly a million different directions, so I miss out on a lot of the time for networking throughout the day. Maybe next year - if someone else takes it over - I’ll get to spend more time talking with all the amazing people who come.

To everyone who has supported us these last four years in any way - thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s been such an amazing experience for me and I’ve learned so much from the various speakers we’ve had as well as all the attendees who’ve come each year to learn with us.

Wednesday
Jul232014

Using social media for good

We have all read or experienced the negative side of social media: the bullying, the trolls and the negative publicity, but in recent months we have noticed the good side of social media. In particular, organizations such as Kindness Canada and Thank You Ninjas have shown us a more compassionate side. It’s easy for people to hide behind a computer screen and criticize companies or individuals, but what about the good things those same companies or individuals have done?

Compliment don’t complain

When we are angry at a department store or airline, it is easy to take to our social networks with our hundreds or thousands of followers and complain about them, but how often do you do that when a company goes out of their way to do something great? For every complaint that you tweet, why not send out two compliments? 

Become a part of the social media good

Submit a story to Kindness Canada. They promote kindness by asking their audience to submit something kind they did or that they know someone else did. By sharing stories of kindness they hope to inspire others to be kind. How nice. 

You could also send an anonymous “thank you” postcard to someone using Thank You Ninjas. It can be for something as small as holding a door open or as large as a kind paramedic who helped you out during a car accident. Thank You Ninjas believe that the more thank yous people send the better the world will be. They even list ideas on their website as to how people can secretly thank someone: http://thankyouninjas.com/be-a-ninja/

Think before you tweet

Before hitting “tweet” or hitting enter on that Facebook status, ask yourself if what you are sending out to the world is nice. Ask yourself if there is anyone that might be hurt by the message. If so, you might want to think twice about hitting that button.

Instead of using social media to broadcast a negative experience, use it to promote something good as well. Share the good things in life and respond to others who do the same. We all know there are bad things going on in the world and on social media, but there is a lot of good too.

If you are attending this year’s Social Capital Conference, you can start participating in social media for good by helping the Thank You Ninjas secretly thank people throughout the day. For more information on that check out the SoCap blog post about hem: http://socialcapitalconference.com/become-a-thank-you-ninja-at-social-capital-2014/

Do you know of any other social media accounts or websites that are designed to do good in the world? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Wednesday
Jul162014

What do I think? I think you should be more specific.

Most of you probably know that engagement is the key to social media success, but engagement is not, I repeat NOT following up a blog post, or social media post by asking your audience, “what do you think?” What do I think about what? The weather, my lunch, the colour of my shirt? Asking your audience what they think is one of the broadest questions you could possibly ask.

Be Specific

If you want to avoid silence, ask a specific question that directly relates to whatever it is you are posting. For example, if you posted a third party link regarding Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation, ask your audience what is one way the new CASL law will affect their marketing efforts or ask what one thing they hope CASL will do for marketers? By asking questions that directly relates to specific content, you better your chances of getting comments and creating genuine conversation.

Be Network Appropriate

Obviously, you can’t post an introductory paragraph before asking a question on Twitter, but you can on Facebook! If you are looking to engage on Twitter, try asking a question relating to a timely event, perhaps something everyone knows about. For example, if you are nearing a national holiday, such as Canada Day, ask your audience what their favourite Canada Day activity is. You could also tell them (in brief) what you’re doing to celebrate. On Facebook and Google+ you could include a link to Canada Day activities, ask what events they have attended in the past and also suggest activities no one may have thought of before – or ask your audience for suggestions. 

Be Prepared to Answer

When you do ask a question on social media that generates answers, reply! A lot of people on Twitter get frustrated when someone poses a question and they answer within seconds of the post publishing and their answers are followed up with… nothing. This tells your audience that your questions are not genuine and that your posts are scheduled. A good question will get an answer, so be prepared to answer in a timely fashion with more questions or information to keep the conversation going.

The key to engaging with your audience is to demonstrate that the questions you are asking serve a purpose. Why are you asking a question? What do you want to know? By asking a direct question regarding a specific subject you are telling your audience that you genuinely care about what they have to say and want to hear from them. If your question is too open-ended, you won’t get many responses because people won’t know how to answer. The more specific your questions are, the more answers you will receive.

What is one type of question you always answer? What’s the worst question you have ever seen asked on social media?