Summer Reading List Keeps Me Sharp

Growing up, summers meant library time and signing up for the book club. Whatever the minimum level, it was never a problem to reach as I read voraciously. I still do.

In the summer, though, I tend toward less weighty subjects that are best read poolside. I do, however, create a summer reading list to keep me sharp.

This summer is no different, and I’ve selected five books, which is a bit ambitious.

The Marketing Agency Blueprint by Paul Roetzer. This one was recommended to me by Brian Forester of Dynamic Web Solutions. The book presents 10 rules for building tech-savvy, hybrid agencies that will disrupt and transform the marketing services industry. One caveat, several reviews criticized it for its heavy focus on HubSpot. I still think I’ll benefit from it as the communications world now has such a heavy focus on digital.

Katie Paine shared her books at a workshop. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Katie Paine shared her books at a workshop. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Measuring the Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. The premise is simple, “If you want to change the world, be networked, use measurement and make sense of your data.” I’ve heard both authors speak, and I follow Beth’s blog. When Katie spoke to my local PRSA chapter, I finally bought the book. She also signed it for me and provided some great inspiration, “May all your results be great by any measure and may you change children’s lives with data.”

Engage by Brian Solis. This one’s been out for awhile, and I have the version that includes a forward by Ashton Kutcher. Brian has been at the forefront of social media and this book is often touted as a must-read. The reason it’s languished on my shelf for so long unread is that every time I pick it up, I turn to a sentence that is unwieldy, and I don’t think I can read further. This past week, though, I turned to a section that did pull me in so I’m going to read it and skip over the poorly written sentences.

Authentic Leadership by Bill George. The book club I belong to at work has selected this book for our September discussion. I didn’t read the last book, so I’m determined to read this one. The Amazon site notes that George has become the unofficial spokesperson for responsible leadership—in business, the media and academia. He shows how to develop the five essential dimensions of authentic leaders—purpose, values, heart, relationships and self-discipline.

Words That Mean Success by Jeffrey D. Porro. I’ve worked with Jeff Porro and have learned much from him. In this book he tells you how to take your speeches and presentations from good to great.

Once I finish a book, I plan to write a blog on it. It’s a way to keep myself accountable. Plus, if you are interested in the book and haven’t committed to reading the book, maybe the post will encourage you.

What books do you recommend?

Making the Social Media Commitment

The opening session at last month’s NonProfit 2.0 focused on free agents – those who write about your organization and/or actively volunteer with it. The discussion evolved into a discussion about how to get an organization to commit to social media.

Allison Fine noted that CEOs and Boards know they have to embrace social media, but they aren’t sure of how to go about doing that. “Organizational cultural change is hard,” Allison said. “We’re talking about culture shift.”

Beth Kanter added, “The message you need to send is patience.”

Of importance to executives is measuring ROI. Beth recommends looking at the four I’s.

1)      Return on Insight: You are learning how people feel about your organization and its work. You also learn how to do things better.

2)      Return on Interaction: How well are you engaging with people?

3)      Return on Investment: Are you converting people into supporters?

4)      Return on Impact: You need to track real-world results, both online and on land.

Social media is not simply about using it, it’s about engaging. “We need to engage and energize people,” Allison said.

One way to do that is to use interns to coach senior staff on using Twitter and Facebook. The goal is to leave the organization with capacity. Another way to offer training is to hold a brown bag lunch and provide training to all staff.

“You need courage and patience to do this well,” Beth said.

Are You Listening or Just Making Noise?

When a room full of social media users were asked about their listening experiences, one word emerged – overwhelmed.

“But real-time monitoring and getting a response out within an hour can be more important than the meeting you are supposed to attend,” said Chris Abraham, president and founding partner of Abraham & Harrison, a company that offers a menu of services to build a company’s online presence.

 He and others were discussing the importance of monitoring social media, or listening, as part of the NonProfit 2.0 Unconference recently.

Beth Kanter, author of “Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media” and co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit,” summarized core competencies around listening.

1)      Key words are king

2)      See the broad themes

3)      Use for workflow to engage externally and internally

4)      Develop information coping skills

One thing that Wendy Harman, social media manager for the American Red Cross, does is compile the 16 to 20 meatiest comments each day and sends widely as an email. She notes that this keeps everyone informed and shows the reach of social media.

The real question, Harman says, “Is what do we do with the content coming and how do we use it?”

“Misinformation – that’s where the listening comes in,” Harman adds. “I’m like a stalker. I need to be able to find people who are misinformed and reach out to them right away.”

The key is to provide them with the facts, Harman says.

Tools for listening are many and range from free to several hundred dollars a month. Tools used by the group include:

  • Technorati
  • Google Alerts
  • SM2
  • Twitter Search
  • Radian 6
  • Social Mention (it will search all of Facebook)
  • Addictomatic (creates a dashboard, but it’s busy)
  • How Sociable
  • Back Type (searches through blog posts)
  • Social Ping
  • Thrive/Small Act

Types of listening include, listening in real time, listening as research, listening for impact (ROI). That’s a lot of listening. But when the group was asked how much time they spent listening, most said, “Not enough.”

Beth recommended carving out 15 to 20 minutes each day or blocking an hour of your schedule on Friday.

If you want to learn more about how to be a good listener, Beth has a great presentation on the topic.