140+: In the Moment


Only Facebook would/could ignore 4.5 million end-users

Don’t you just hate it when people use their blogs to rant? Sorry, but I have to moan about my favorite topic: Facebook arrogance.

In the SaaS world, users are the best source of information about how to make software better and more responsive. But in Facebookland, users are on the bottom of the priority list after ways to extort and exploit data and advertiser revenue.  Here’s another example….

Only Facebook would or could ignore a very simple functionality change that more than 4.5 million people clearly want.   It seems more than 4.5 million people want Facebook to allow them to change the name of their business/organization pages.  Users have used FB’s own “like” button to indicate that they want this change, yet FB’s response is just a flat-out “NO.”  FB doesn’t even offer a rationale. This is the arrogance and disregard for users that makes FB so abhorrent.

The worst part is that it is such a simple fix. Every other field is editable, but not the name field. It’s true that FB clearly informs users that they won’t be able to make that change once they set up their pages, but things change and technology should be flexible enough to meet the changing needs of users.  And, by the way, Facebook, why can’t people change that field?  It’s so typically random and arbitrary.

In Facebookland, data is king.  To hell with the end-users whose data they covet.

Hey, if you agree, let me know! And indicate your preference by “liking” “Can Facebook please make it possible to change our page name?”

Does Social Media Open Doors or Distract Early Childhood Educators?

I’ve always marveled at early educators’ ability to focus so intently on the children, families, and staff in their programs. To me, it’s a huge blessing. It’s also a curse.  We are so mission-focused that we often don’t have the time or inclination to step back, look at the bigger picture, and decide how our work fits in to the overall scheme of where we’re going. Don’t get me wrong, I know from firsthand experience that operating programs that offer high-quality early learning experiences takes 100% of our energy, focus and passion. By the end of the day, there’s often little energy left over for much else. But, is our laser focus on our programs a help or a hindrance? And, does engagement through social media distract us or help us do more?

Laser Focus: Help or Hindrance?

Think about a laser for a moment: It shines a very intense light on a small area.  Lasers do a great job shining through a swath, but leave other areas untouched. Are we so focused on our missions to make a difference for the children in our care that we fail to make important conceptual, political, and professional connections that can have more impact? I know when I operated programs, I often thought, “leave the political and networking stuff up to other people. I have my hands full, and I am doing important work.”  Once I left the  my programs for other related early education jobs, I saw that I missed incredible  opportunities that would have benefited the children in my program and the direction of the field in general.

Why is it taking so long for us to engage?

Why am I writing about this now? I’m lamenting the void of engagement and sources of timely, relevant information in early care and education. I’m frustrated by how long it is taking for program practitioners to look up from guiding our lasers to see that there is a country and a world in which we operate, and it’s full of opportunities and insight. I’m also surprised to see how slow our community leaders are to add blogs and other social media as strategies to engage their members, supporters, and advocates.

But, I know I am  preaching to the choir. Given that you are reading this post, you probably  read other blogs, and engage on social media sites. YOU are probably NOT one of the hundreds of thousands of early childhood practitioners who are don’t  purposely set aside time to learn more, network, advocate, or exchange ideas related to their work. (And, I ask you, what are you doing to encourage your colleagues to test social media?)

There is a dearth of social media interactivity and engagement in our field. Stop to think about the size of our field. It’s hard for me to fathom (and harder to find the real data) about how many early childhood educators there are in the US. (Statisticians, if you can wrap your head around this one, give me a shout!)  I do know that there are only a handful of  commonly read reliable and credible blogs and journals in our field to serve (conservatively) hundreds of thousands of educators.  And, having been actively searching for early educators on social networking sites and listservs for many years now, I can estimate that less than 1% of us are engaging online. Contrast those (admittedly rough) stats with those related to business, and you can see how technically and engagement-challenged we are as a field.

We need to connect to learn from and partner with others in our field. That is not a new concept. We all connect through community or committee meeting every once in a while. We take a workshop or go to a conference a couple of times a year. We already read Young Children, Child Care Information Exchange, or one of the few journals for early childhood education. Awesome!  Those IRL (techno-speak for “in real life”) experiences and activities are absolutely vital.  Adding social media to those activities widens the circle of influence by allowing you to connect with others exponentially. The folks at CommonCraft illustrate the point so well. If you haven’t seen this yet, take a look at Social Networking in Plain English. Do you see how using social networking before or after meetings and conferences can extend the benefits well beyond the walls? This is just one example of the power the Internet has to help us influence and educate one another.

So, is social media a distraction for early childhood educators or an accelerant?

I assert that we need more to do more. We need more blogs. We need more interconnectedness.  What do you think? There’s a lively conversation about just this issue going on in the Internet4ECE group on LinkedIn. Of course, you need to be a member of LinkedIn and a member of the group to read it. (Oh, am I secretly trying to illustrate engagement on the Internet? I would never be so sneaky.)

Resources:

I have a nice list of ECE blogs on slide 22 of my presentation from NAEYC’s Professional Development Institute: Supercharge Your ECE Program With Web 2.0. There’s a lot of additional information about social media in our field in that presentation, and you will find other resources on the Social Media for ECE on my website.

I’m dying to convince you. I’m dying for you to convince others, Check out some of my other presentations, resources, and the Social Media in ECE Directory I am compiling*, and share them if you find them helpful. Let me help you convince others that social media is a professional development, advocacy, and outreach accelerant, and an isolation-buster, bar none.

*If you would like to be included in the Social Media for ECE Directory, register! It only takes a couple of minutes!

UPDATE: Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service (via 140+: In the Moment)

New update to my post, Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service about being unable to resolve a payment issue that caused Facebook to disable my account.

I know will be accused of exaggerating, but I promise that I have tried to contact Facebook more than 30 times to arrange for payment to for a mistake I made! Really! I’ve used their online forms and the specified email addresses, only to be met with a 5 of my emails to every 1 canned responses from Facebook. The responses do not respond to or correspond with the text of my email, and if I am lucky enough to get a response, it arrives with a 3-5 day delay.

At this point, it is just too funny to be frustrating! It’s one big cycle that demonstrates complete disregard for customers.As a marketing geek with considerable experience in SaaS management, including customer service, I am intrigued by just how low the Customer Service at Facebook can go. When you compare the historically horrible customer service offered by Dell, Microsoft, Verizon, and Comcast, and they come out looking like customer service heroes next to Facebook, you know there is a problem.

I wonder if the playground posse at Facebook even has a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). I appears that my cases are brand-new each time I write. Do the FB kids know about CRM? Or are they too busy thinking of the next great way to socialize our universe to worry about such mundane and 20th century concepts as customer service?

Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service Poor Facebook. The company has its hands full. With relentless Congressional pressure to stop abusing our trust and peddling our privacy, the “leadership” at Facebook probably doesn’t have time to think about providing customer service to paying customers. The Facebook kids are so busy planning to build a totally social universe where it is at the center, they can’t be bothered to provide even passable customer service to those of us who pay for … Read More

via 140+: In the Moment

Facebook Fail: Nonexistent Customer Service

Facebook Fails at customer service imagePoor Facebook. The company has its hands full. With relentless Congressional pressure to stop abusing our trust and peddling our privacy, the “leadership” at Facebook probably doesn’t have time to think about providing customer service to paying customers. The Facebook kids are so busy planning to build a totally social universe where it is at the center, they can’t be bothered to provide even passable customer service to those of us who pay for ads. As a matter of fact, Facebook expects us (the peeps with the money to spend on advertising) to adapt the their vision of customer service, which is totally online and delivered with an attitude.  The message I’ve gotten any time I’ve tried to get customer service from Facebook is: “we may get to your problem when we can, and if you are worthy, otherwise, read our rules and responsibilities. You are on your own.”

I could fill you in on my tales of woe trying to rectify an overcharge with Facebook, but I won’t bore you with the details. Just rest assured that this social media consultant wants to pay for what she purchased, not overcharges, and she followed every step of the process as outlined by Facebook…MORE THAN 30 TIMES, and still can’t get resolution. Big, bad, bully FB disabled my account, and basically the company is now completely ignoring my requests to restore my access. I wonder if it is coincidence that I have Tweeted and posted on LinkedIn about Facebook arrogance and inconsistent product development prior to ever requesting customer service. Or maybe my account has not been restored because I had the audacity to try to get someone at Facebook’s attention in the light of day on Twitter.

Oddly, it never occurred to me that the account might have been deactivated because I have made negative comments until I read “Facebook we have a problem,” by Robert Scoble, a blog post that highlights the trials and tribulations vocal users have experienced with Facebook.  It’s fascinating to read the comments by readers who have been abused by Facebook, but the most compelling reading of all are the responses from Facebook leadership, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself. The arrogance and lack of interest in basic tenants of customer service seep through in every syllable of the responses.  Even though Scoble maintains a close relationship with the “in” posse at Facebook, in a follow-up post he agrees that  the kids at Facebook have a lot to learn about business, trust, customer service, and long-range strategy planning. Check it out at “Our trust relationship with Facebook: complicated.”

But, I digress. The real issue is Facebook’s hypocrisy about playing by the rules of engagement in social media, the arrogance they display with their insistence that customer service can only be offered through email and online forms, and the lessons they will eventually be forced to learn about customer service. Right now, Facebook is on top, and somehow paying customers are suffering through the customer service void because Facebook offers very effective targeted advertising, and everybody who has something to sell wants the service. But there’s going to be a bottom. There will come a time when the people with the money choose to spend it elsewhere where they have at least minimal customer service.

So the big question is how long can Facebook continue to ignore paying customers, fail to provide customer service, and use the service like a playground on which the company defies all the rules (from development to privacy to customer service) and bullies everyone who wants to play?

The Top 3 Dirty Little Secrets of Social Media Marketing

Money on social media hype image

You’ve heard it all from passionate presenters and evangelical bloggers…There’s tons of hype about the power of social media.

Let’s get real. Social media  offers a lot of potential for marketing. Companies and nonprofit organizations are experiencing success using social media for marketing, outreach, advocacy and fundraising. Lots of us internet marketers think it’s the best way to engage with and establish relationships with customers and constituents, and perhaps (if we have done a good job) get them to transact with us. BUT…In the heat of the moment when social media passion has taken over, there are (at least) three secrets social media marketing evangelists might fail to mention:

1) Social media marketing is just not right for every business. Face it: If you are marketing niche products or services into a very traditional sector, it just might not make sense.  Using any marketing medium effectively requires putting the message where the target audience is, and where they want to engage with you.

Are farmers really going to make Facebook their first stop for information when they need to buy a tractor? Are they going spend a lot of time engaging in an exchange of ideas information about equipment on social networking sites? (Hold on there, farmers! I know you use social media. Stick with me for a minute!)  I’m just saying social media should not be the primary tool in the marketing mix for some businesses. The fact is, there are better ways to market some products and services. To be effective with any marketing strategy you have to  pick the right mix.   Social media marketing is a powerful tool, but true geeks like me must be strong enough to admit when social doesn’t make sense.

Don’t buy the hype if the person offering the advice  is not thinking specifically about your products or services and your core market.

2) You simply cannot push your message. I know this is not really a secret. Seth Godin, Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki and lots of other smart social media marketers constantly tell us social networking is about all the things we learned in Kindergarten about making friends.  But if you follow social media it seems like a lot of marketers are treating the medium like advertising, alienating their audiences, and making it obvious that their brands are not really customer-centric.

Social networkers expect two-way or many-to-many conversation and real engagement. That means you must share interesting conversation, establish value, and give your audience a chance to chat. You have listen to them and you must respond, just as you might if you were in their living rooms at a party. Because, indeed, this is SOCIAL (as in the companionship of others) media.

Would you invite people to a dinner party and start pitching the minute they arrived? Even if it was a business-related event, you would have to at least engage in a conversation or two. And if you feigned interest, the other guests would consider you a phony. HELLO! Social networking is where your company will be tagged as relevant and interesting or doomed to be like a narcissistic outcast because the content is just pitch after pitch. Boring. Useless. Irrelevant. Crass. Just like a bad party host.

3) Social networking is not easy and immediate. I’m sure you’ve seen the books and blogs that Get more followers imagepromise dramatic and immediate results from social media in just a few minutes per day.  Those plans use technology and tactics that can automatically build an audience, but the technology cannot deliver the right audience or build meaningful relationships with them. Onceyou’ve found your core audience, engagement with those people must authentic– a real person must respond authentically.  It takes a lot of time and patience to build followers, friends, and fans.  It requires authentic interest in your audience and commitment to sharing.

If you do not have at least 10 hours a week (that’s a .25 FTE)  to spend on social media and no money to hire someone, you probably should not plan to use social media as a primary tool in your marketing strategy. You can set up a presence on a social media site with less of time investment, but you can’t expect significant results.  And, even with someone devoted to social media for a quarter of their time, you should expect it to take at least 6 months to build up meaningful results. And, ROI? Bonus Dirty Little Secret: It’s not your mother’s ROI any more! ROI in social media is gauged differently now… But that’s a post for another day. Stay tuned!

So, what? I know it seems like I am a social media Scrooge, but I’m one of the social media-crazy evangelists who sometimes gets so carried away that I forget to offer these important footnotes.  But I do think it is important to know how and when to use the tools that fit the job.  You deserve pragmatic advice.

So, what do you think? Am all wrong? Leave a comment and tell me why!

Social Media Resources for Newbies- There’s nothing to fear! (I promise!)

Are you little intimidated by all the weird terms and concepts you’ve heard so much about? Don’t worry, social media is in its infancy, and we are all learning… some of us have a bit more experience, but we were all newbies once. Relax! Here is a smattering of great resources that will help you understand the basics.

The FIRST STOP:

(Do not pass GO… Start here!) CommonCraft Videos
The absolute easiest, most user-friendly, and basic source of information might just be found at CommonCraft. The folks at CommonCraft develop and deliver outstanding videos intended to make the most complex concepts simple and interesting. They sell their …In Plain English series of videos to trainers and large corporations, but they make them available for non-commercial use on owner Lee Lefever’s CommonCraft channel on YouTube. (Wait, I might be losing you with channels on YouTube. We’ll get there, but for now, just click on the links!)

Here are a few of my favorite ComonCraft Videos!
Social Networking in Plain English
Blogs in Plain English
Twitter in Plain English
RSS in Plain English (If you want to keep up with lots of blogs, you MUST see this video!)

There are many more on the CommonCraft channel on YouTube

A quick Glossary, courtesy of Socialbrite

api app astroturfing blog campaign cause marketing civic media cloud computing copyleft Creative Commons crowdsourcing CSR Digg digital inclusion digital story double bottom line Drupal ebooks embedding Facebook fair use feed flash mob Flickr geotagging GPL GPS hashtag hosting Internet newsroom lifecasting lifestreaming mashup metadata microblogging moblog MySpace net neutrality news reader NGO nptech open media open platform open source open video OpenID paid search marketing permalink personal media platform podcast podsafe public domain public media remix RSS RT screencast search engine marketing SEO smart phone SMS social bookmarking social capital social enterprise social entrepreneurship social media social media optimization social networking social news social return on investment social tools splogs streaming media sustainability tag cloud tags technology steward terms of service triple bottom line troll tweet tweetup Twitter Twitterverse UGC unconference videoblog virtual world Web 2.0 web analytics Web conferencing webcasting webinar wi-fi widget wiki Wikipedia word-of-mouth marketing WordPress YouTube

Best overall resources

Mashable’s Social Media Guide
The overarching guide to social media that is updated several times a day:
Mashable’s Social Media Guide

Hubspot’s Internet Marketing Blog
Hubspot sells Internet Marketing software, so they want you to visit their blog, but in general, the information offered in this blog is very good! Highly recommended!

HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

Articles and Webinars

From Joanne Fritz’ excellent Non-Profit Guide on About.com (a great resource for all things nonprofit, not just Social Media): 12 Tips for Nonprofits on Getting Started with Social Media

You’ll find a lot of Social Media articles in the Social Networking section of Network for Good’s Learning Center, Fundraising123

NTEN Artcles – Articles from the Nonprofit Technology Network
NTEN Webinars–  Affordable webinars from NTEN

Blogs

This is a hodgepodge of blogs that focus on  Social Media and its application for marketing and fundraising. Some are  written for nonprofit organizations, but offer excellent reading for small businesses as well.

John Haydon’ Blog
Heather Mansfield’s Blog
Kivi Leroux Miller’s Nonprofit Marketing Guide
Allison Fine’s Blog
Beth Kanter’s Blog

NTEN’s Blog

Wild Apricot Blog

Organizations that offer articles and training on Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations (but offer great resource even if your business is not nonprofit)

NTEN
Idealware

Association of Nonprofit Professionals

Books, CDs, DVDs


The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause
by Kivi Leroux Miller

I’m On Linkedin– Now What? by Jason Alba

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Revised Edition by Andy Sernovitz

Guides and Whitepapers

Beyond the Hype: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits and Advocates
from Texans Care For Children

Reference
If you are ever stuck, you can look up words, terms or phrases through Google:
Enter keyword: define: (the word  or “phrase” you want to look find)

For more specific information, fast, I recommend Webopedia.

And, of course, the ever popular Wikipedia is helpful, but can be overwhelming.

Hey, Smartipants: Add your recommended resources here!
There is an overwhelming amount of information about social media! This is hardly a complete list! I’d love to add your favorites to this entry, so leave a comment to make this resource richer! (Yes, I know, a wiki would work better, but that’s a subject for another day!)

A Contradiction in Terms: Why This Child Care Advocate Posts Negative Stories About Child Care

The other day, I posted one of my usual missives about the horrible condition of child care in America on my Facebook page. It was just another day in my life in which I try to get people to wake up and smell the coffee about how far we (advocates, parents, child care providers, policy makers, the media, and everyone else) have to go to improve child care. Soon thereafter, and one of my childhood friends who doesn’t really know what I do for a living responded to the post by saying “It’s terrible! And those parents keep on working and sending their children.” I was horrified and quickly deleted the post.

That post made me wake up and smell the coffee about the implications of the messages I send out! I looked back at my Facebook and Twitter posts, and I realized that I’m not completing the thought! People who don’t know me think I am “anti-child care!” Whhhoooa! I know child care, and when done well, it provides children and parents with many positive outcomes. As a matter of fact, high-quality child care includes developmentally appropriate learning opportunities that make the most of the critical early learning years when brain development is most rapid. As a working mother and a child care professional, I know it is simply a necessary fact of life for most people in our nation. Clearly, I support parents and their need to work.

It’s true that based on the reports produced by  my employer, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, I have come to believe that by and large, child care in America is in a deplorable state due to lack of standards, regulations, oversight, and adequate training. I also know, based on my experience as a parent of a child who has been in child care, as a child care center administrator in a multi-site organization dedicated to high-quality early learning experiences,  and as a curriculum and assessment developer, there are examples of wonderful, well-operated programs throughout the country. Because I do know what high-quality child care looks like from the inside, and as someone with experience at the national level, I am passionate that all children and families have the highest quality care.

Why would someone who works on behalf of child care promote negative stories? It seems counter intuitive that advocates would not want to promote the stories of great examples of child care that works. Here’s why I post about negative stories:

• While there are good examples of family child care and child care programs, they are few and far between. A 2006 study by The National Institute of Child Health and Development rated only 10% of programs throughout the nation as “good.” It’s hard to build interest in change when the results are so small.
• NACCRRA’s studies reveal that parents believe the government is doing its part to protect children in child care, when, in fact, there is an alarming lack of standardization and regulation of child care throughout the country.
• There is a general lack of awareness about child care, and as an advocate and the head of Child Care Aware Parent Network, I need to do my part to raise awareness and educate the public.
• The media, policy-makers, and the general public don’t pay attention to the “feel-good” stories.
• The stories of the tragic results of poor child care provide clear illustrations of what needs to be done to improve quality throughout the nation.

I’ve learned that it is important for me to “complete” the thought when I post, so people who read the posts understand that I am not implying that parents should avoid child care, and most importantly, I do not want to make anyone feel guilty about using it. I also don’t want to perpetuate the chasm that exists between working parents and those who have the luxury of a myriad of choices. As a matter of fact, I am posting in order to encourage people to join me, NACCRRA , and our new Child Care Aware Parent Network to advocate for Federal legislation for better regulation, funding, and oversight of child care through states and the local agencies that are tasked with child care licensing. Learn more about our Policy Agenda , and join us to educate the public and advocate for the world-class child care because 11 million children in child care in America are counting on us.