Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do you want your association to be Walmart?

Earlier this week, I had a small Twitter discussion with Kevin Holland (@associationinc) regarding aggregation as a value proposition.

@associationinc - Deciding your role is to aggregate other people's value is like George Costanza wearing sweatpants. "You're telling the world, 'I give up.'"

@cardcat - Interesting comment about aggregating. Don't you think it is a viable option for a small association who can't afford it?

@associationinc - Nothng wrong with aggregating content as long as you don't perceive it to be your value proposition. There's no real future in it.

@cardcat - Don't think it is THE value proposition, but I think it could be A value to members, a big value.

@associationinc - A big value is something you offer that nobody else can or that u can do better. Aggregating content is easy, there4 unsustainable.

@cardcat - True, it isn't sustainable. But I almost think if you don't act as an aggregator, you risk folks going somewhere else.

@associationinc - And if you don't do your members' taxes, you risk folks going to H&R Block. :) ... Like I said, nothing wrong with it.

@cardcat - Ok, ok. Now you are just getting carried away ;) Yes, nothing wrong with it, but not a long term value prop. Agreed.

That got me thinking more about value in general. Wikipedia talks about value proposition primarily in terms of Benefits and Costs. And many would define value strictly in terms of Benefits and Costs. However, I want to bring up one other word that is key: Expectations.

There is an expected value in a transaction. You expect that Benefits > Costs or you wouldn't do it in the first place. You expect certain benefits for your costs. Although anyone can aggregate data then distribute it, association members tend to expect their association to be the place to go for information (the bigger value proposition). Therefore, you may need to aggregate to meet those expectations. And if someone else aggregates the same info, chances are you are still going to be preferred because of the other things you are doing and your reputation as an industry representative.

If you don't do it, then you may not be filling members' biggest need and expectation, which risks them walking away from the other values that you offer, simply because of convenience. It is why a lot of people go to Walmart. I may have better selection and quality somewhere else, and maybe even price, but at least I can do it in one stop. The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want your association to be Walmart?

**For the record, I am not saying being Walmart is good or bad. It's just one of the many options out there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do We Need Social Media Certification?

My friend Maddie Grant tweeted this post the other day about Social Media Certification. I remembered another 2 posts from this time last year (here and here). In Andy's post he says something that is the crux of it to me.

There is no authority in Social Media Marketing, there is no standard.

Instead of authority, what I think he meant to say was governing body. I bet these folks doing the certifications are trying to become the authority by offering them. But there is no recognized governing body. The second part is the most crucial. There is no standard.

As many of the above posts and others have said, there is no one thing that will work for every company when it comes to social media. We all have different audiences, different technology, different goals, etc. However, I think there is one way to help narrow the field from the people who have been on board from square one (or two) versus those out to make a quick buck.

There is a certain amount of objective data and knowledge out there regarding social media. How many characters are in a tweet? Which systems work with each other? And many more. I wouldn't want to be the person who had to cull through and create the body of knowledge, but it could be done. I am not advocating a certification, but there might be a way to do one that wasn't totally full of fluff.

Would someone who has a passing score be better or worse than someone who doesn't? Only your experience with them would tell. But isn't that like all certifications? After all, what do you call the guy with the highest passing grade in medical school? Doctor. What do you call the guy with the lowest passing grade in medical school? Doctor.

Update on Read This Post, If It's the Last Thing You Do

Last night I saw a tweet from @CopyBlogger linking to this blog post about blogging basics. #1 was about the title! Further proof of its importance.

Also, just after one day, that post is my most read since Sept of 2008.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Read This Post, If It's the Last Thing You Do

Don't you wish all your blog posts could have that title, and the corresponding effect of everyone who sees it follows through? As I was digging through my Google Reader this morning, I realized how much I rely on the title (and first sentence or part of the first sentence) to help me decide whether or not to read more of the post. I have boatloads of unread posts in my reader and just can't get fully read each one. Granted, I have probably already read a number of them because I clicked through to it when a trusted source tweeted about the post. However, I know I am missing good content because the title and first sentence don't grab me or tell me what the post is really about.

Therefore, I am making a resolution to do better with my title and first few words to make it better for my readers.

In addition, if you have any tips on Blog Post Title creation, please share. I am all ears!

PS - this is also a test to see if my page view numbers increase at all with this title. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Doesn't Need Help With Colors?

We are getting ready to buy a new house. Every room in the new place is that dull, off-white. So the topic of colors and patterns is constantly in the conversation at home. My wife keeps looking for samples and inspiration, and then I remembered this:

If you haven't been here, you have to go. It might waste a full day, but it is so worth it if you do any sort of web or marketing work and you need color palette help. Of course, it is also perfect if you are thinking of redecorating your house too. It helps you create color palettes based on a base color or off a photo. It lets you choose several options once you have your base selected. It even lets you manually adjust if you feel the need. In addition, people create and save their own palettes, so you have plenty to look at for ideas.

Here is another one solely based on web photos, and it only gives you 2 options with all colors in Hex format. But it works if you need something quick and easy.