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?”
Tags: administrators, child care, childcare, early childhood, early childhood education, early learning, ece, engagement, leadership, social media
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.)
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!
Tags: crm, customer relationship management, customer service, facebook, fb, social media, social media marketing
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?
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
Tags: social media, social media marketing, Twitter
Cross-pollinating on Twitter? What is she talking about now?
I’ve blogged about the joys of Twitter as a tool in non-profit organizations (specifically early childhood education) and mentioned hashtags before, but today, let’s go a little deeper to see how hastags can help unrelated twitterers (or Tweeps) connect through common interests. The Twitter Fan Wiki explains that “Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter, without having to change the basic service.”
First, the basics:
What is a hashtag?
Hashtags refer to the practice of placing the “#” symbol prior to a “tag” (or topic category) to indicate that a tweet will be of interest to anyone who is interested in the topic.
Here’s a sample tweet to help illustrate hashtags:
Hashtags are very helpful because you can easily find information about topics that interest you without wading through lots of tweets that are not interesting to you.
How do you use hashtags?
If you are not already “following” topics, you can easily do so by using the search function on Twitter or your twitter client by entering the search term you want to follow. If a tweet about information that interests you is posted, but you are not online at the time to see it, you can see it whenever you search. For example, I am interested in #leadership, #nonprofit issues, #fundraising, #socmed (social media), #marketing, early childhood education (#ece, #earlychildhood, #NAEYC, #PreK), #parenting, women’s issues (#women), progressive issues (#p2), and #advocacy, among other topics. So I keep my twitter client (Seesmic) set to search for those hashtags. Whenever I start up Seesmic, I can quickly scan to see what’s been posted.
You will rarely find a tweet from me in which there is not a hastag. I just believe tweeting without hashtags is like shouting into the wind. The only way someone is going to see it is if they happen to be online, or if the organic tweet includes a commonly searched term.
Now onto the cross-pollinating concept:
I use hastags very strategically to allow people who are interested in one topic discover other related topics and communities. For example, I often read information related to leadership from which managers or people who follow #management might benefit, so I add #leadership #management. I also see tweets with #ece that parents might like, so I retweet with the #parenting and #parents hashtags. Also, I really want to make sure the ECE community becomes aware of social media and technology resources, so I not only add #ece to my social media tweets, but I also created the hastag #ecetech. (How did I do that? I just started using it in my technology related tweets along with ece, and people started picking it up, and now we have a little group. COOL!)
Hashtags are great for live tweeting or creating chats at specific times. For example, there were a lot of tweets from the NAEYC conference with the #NAEYC_AC hashtag. It was great to stay on top of what was going on.
Hashtags can help you participate in Twitter chats. Let’s say you want to have a conversation about a specific book. You would just post a tweet like:
Hey, Tweeps: #booktitlechat at 8 PM Tuesday, 4/13. #topic #topic #topic
- #booktitle = the title of the book
- chat indicates that there is going to be a live Twitter chat
- #topic= a related group or topic that people might find interesting.
Of course, to make the chat really work, you have to give people a lot of notice and tweet about it a lot…right up until the time you are ready to start. Notice that the various #topic hashtags help cross-pollinate, and bring various groups of previously unrelated people together. As the chat gets underway, the various Twitterers can find more people with whom they might like to connect, and then follow them.
Does cross-pollination on Twitter make sense now? Add a comment if you have other ideas or if you think I am just plain nuts!
Tags: engagement, marketing strategy, nonprofit, social media, social media marketing
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 promise 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!
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
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!
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
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.
Organizations that offer articles and training on Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations (but offer great resource even if your business is not nonprofit)
I’m On Linkedin– Now What? by Jason Alba
Guides and Whitepapers
Beyond the Hype: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits and Advocates
from Texans Care For Children
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!)
Tags: administrators, early childhood, introduction to social media, introduction to twitter, marketing, nonprofit, outreach, Twiter
Anyone who knows me is aware that I can get as worked up when I talk about computers and the Internet as I do when I talk about developmentally appropriate practice. As I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I discovered that child care administration and technology literacy go hand in hand early in my career. And, so far, it’s a combination that continues to fascinate me and shape my career. I don’t think I would have ever been able to do my job as an administrator without technology. (Although, I tip my hat to those who have come before me and conquered without computers!) I also don’t think I would have learned as much as I have about technology if it were not for the need for me to do great work in ECE.
My most recent fascination is with web 2.0, and specifically with the use of social media for social networking and how it can power collaboration and communication in the early learning community. I’ve been on LinkedIn and Facebook for many years, but in 2009, I joined Twitter, where I began my odyssey to discover if social media would really pay off with connections in ECE. But first, I had to watch (or lurk) to learn how to Tweet without making a fool out of myself and find people who posted about and shared my interest in ECE.
Let’s count the ways I love Twitter: #1: It’s a lot more than what you’re doing right now!
Soon I learned the first of many amazing facts about Twitter: Despite the common misconception that you are supposed to post what you are doing, that’s not what effective Tweeting is about. The best tweeters post brief statements that include a link to an online article, event announcement, news, or other online resource along with tags that help readers determine if the link will be of interest to them. People can exchange information with other tweeters publicly or through a Direct Message that is private, as well.
Let’s count the ways I love Twitter: #2: Hashtags help sort tweets!
My second very important discovery was about about hastags, which are like keyword labels that allow people with common interests to find the information in which they are most interested. To use hashtags, “Tweeters” just add # plus the a commonly used keyword to describe the topic and then people who share that interest search for topics with that hashtag.
To illustrate hashtags and “Twiterish” here’s an example of Tweet posted by NAEYC (@naeyc):
Let’s count the ways I love Twitter: #3: An Army of ECE colleagues!
Armed with this cool new information, I decided to try posting information with the hashtag #ece, not knowing whether anyone else had ever used that tag or not. Soon, I discovered many of my colleagues posting using #ece, and a wealth of new colleagues I had never met before. Even though we all were using the same hashtag, I learned more about different topics than I had ever learned before because, of course, there are many concepts related to early childhood. For example, my tweets are about public policy that impacts early learning, parenting and parent engagement, research, assessment, and program administration. My esteemed colleague, Cate Heroman, (@cateheroman)author of The Creative Curriculum and other great resources from Teaching Strategies (@TeachStrategies ) posts about curriculum, assessment, child development, curriculum studies, and other tweets that are teacher-centric. Karen Nemeth, (@KarenNemethEdM) the author of Many Languages, One Classroom tweets about ELL, DLL, child development, program management, and language development. There are hundreds of other ECE Tweeters out there, many of whom offer great insight on best practice in the classroom as well as program administration.
Let’s count the ways I love Twitter: #4: “Cross-Interest pollination!”
I also follow and tweet other hashtags like #parenting, leadership, #management, #nonprofit, #fundraising, #HR, #OD (organizational development) and more. This is where it becomes interesting! I think of it like cross-pollination, because the ECE people who follow me learn more about topics in related fields and I learn more about topics I would otherwise never explore. Best of all, I feel as though I am educating people in other fields about early childhood and learning from their expertise.
Let’s count the ways I love Twitter: #5: Twitter brings our community together!
I could talk about Twitter all day (and sometimes, I do!) The point of this post is that my experiment with Twitter proved to me that there is value in social media for early childhood education. Our community has come together through Twitter. It’s like going to a conference to network every day. It is energizing, enlightening, and exciting. The potential is amazing.
Now, let’s count together:
What are your experiences on Twitter? Tell me how you exploit the potential and use it to benefit your program?