Driving behaviour by metrics; a Google Page Rank discussion

pagerankishOr, driving results through defined strategy by encouraging the right behaviours using the right indicators.

What happens when you drive behaviour by measuring activity? You get more of that particular activity, regardless of quality. When the activity isn’t as easily measured, then we start looking at indicators that can be measured, and that is where the slippery slope of metrics driven behaviour begins.

Take, for example, your website’s rank on Google search results. Using that single metric as a driving mechanism for success initially looks good and easy to quantify: is your site ranked in the first few slots on a google search result? If so, you’re likely focused on  the higher the rank, the better…. except, driving behaviour based on this rankling leads to poor practices and even worse behaviour. In order to obtain solid rankings, there were many different ways you could game the system (some less than scrupulous SEO “experts” have tons of tricks to cumulatively work together) to ensure a high spot without having to do the hard work to reach that space organically. Thankfully Google is implementing changes that reward the right thing and remove the ability to actually game the system through simple tricks.

The maniacal focus on being on the front page is what comes from poorly focused, metrics driven activity. Rather, the front page/first spot should be seen as an indicator, a result from doing the right thing. Using behaviours to drive metrics instead of the reverse is the first step to having the right focus on the right things. The common adage is “you get what you measure”, and truly it is in this case as well. The right thing, in these cases is creating quality content and engaged conversation. “SEO has changed. It’s no longer just about getting all of your meta data aligned and your site content optimized, but also about getting your customers involved in the conversation.

So, what’s the solution in this example using Google search ranking as a success metric? The answer is both simple and difficult: Measure and report on the behaviours you want to encourage. Only use search rankings as indicators that those behaviours are showing benefit. What does that mean though? Specifically, it would require measurement of content quality and more complex metrics to be developed in order to identify, in quantifiable methods, the activities associated with generating quality content and quality conversation. But, people are like electricity and water: all three follow the path of least resistance. In this case, that path is taking the easy way out by just looking at your google rank as a single easy metric to show success. But, like I noted above, Google is indeed doing things to reward those who are doing the right thing: both Google Authorship and GooglePlus provide deep benefit without much additional work (assuming you have content flowing already, these simple provide better connection to you and more robust results, they don’t make your content better).

If you’re still focused on page rank, you will soon find your metrics obsolete. With the proliferation of mobile devices and a shift to both smartphone and tablet computing, Google Now will be the driving force in benefits to site owners. We’ve already seen page rank plummet in relevance over the past 3 years as Google shifts their strategy to align more with organic search. Google Now is the future of a dying page rank. As a site owner or content creator, we are all best off paying attention to the future and building the right metrics to drive the right behaviours here and Now.

sentiment_Gauravonomics

image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1erEmd3

Personal or Professional: Why not both?

934897_10200977113927595_398103035_nWhen it comes to social business, there’s little difference between “social media” and “real life”.

Social media has blurred the lines of professional versus personal. Some businesses, like LinkedIn, have attempted to clarify those lines once again by focusing on one side or the other. However, that intended focus isn’t concrete and still causes some blurring to occur. Because of this, I am often asked whether it is advisable for a person to maintain only a single mixed account, or to manage separate personal and professional accounts on sites like twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and Googleplus.

While the general advice is to do what you are comfortable with, I definitely urge to one side of that spectrum and have posted previously on the topic of managing digital personas.

Social media is different from “real life” in one very important way, however: there is no distinction between work and play. Because of this, it is best to think of social business not in terms of work, but rather to see social business as an after-hours cocktail party. This analogy plays out as conversation during cocktail parties runs the gamut of topics from professional to personal; because it is more social than work, the atmosphere is more relaxed, less professional, but can be focused on business or personal endeavors as the conversation flows. In this way, social media provides a virtual platform to engage in conversation at any level with which you are comfortable.

To best use this dynamic in social business, I find it most effective to maintain a single identity. In any of the spaces in which I play, I am simply me. The conversation can take many different directions at any given time, which both provides for a broader scope of topics in which my networks may be interested, as well as build some sense of humanity which a flat professional presence wouldn’t provide. In my experiences, it is that depth of humanity in social media which really builds the connection and relationships in social business that become valuable down the lines as business needs arise and opportunities present themselves.

So when I am asked what my recommendation is, I say: be yourself. Do what you are comfortable with, but do it in an authentic and human way.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/PqLjos

A missive on the TVD Logo

tvd_stack-300dpi

A slight change of gears for today’s post as I shift from talking about social business to briefly talking about my new business: Tualatin Valley Distilling. I wanted to explain an important part of our company’s esthetic choice and it’s symbolism for us:

As you’ve likely noticed, our company logo is a design inspired by both Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Both my business partner, Corey, and I have a predilection towards these architects/designers and their distinct panoply of work. We wanted to replicate the craftsman ethos within our design as a touchstone for our own company’s guiding principles. Also taking inspiration from Compass Box Whisky’s capability for what we call neo-vintage and classically timeless design, we gave that guidance to our brilliant designer, Gary Chelak, who came up with what you see today.

I say brilliant, because Gary incorporated a depth and breadth of thought into the design that reveals itself slowly and intentionally, in layers of complexity and simplicity balanced to what we consider the perfect effect.

On the surface, the logo is a stylized stained glass version of a stalk of barley in the craftsman genre. However, a deeper look shows additional elements nodding to even more significance.

The idea behind the specific elements from top to bottom show the beginnings of the process in which we use barley as the main ingredient of our flagship whiskey, with the color differentiations denoting the grain’s growth, malting, and drying/smoking process. Moving down, we see the two green-blue-ish diamonds signifying the stalk of the barley as well as the water (greener was our design choice over blue) and process used to brew the barley and release the sugars necessary for the next two diamonds to do their job: the yeast. This is the yellow diamonds of yeast which eat the sugars during the fermentation process and in turn produce the alcohol in the mash we then run through the distillation process to the final element of the design; the rosette as the final product.

The design was done with specific intent to use motion drawing the eye from top to bottom, adding color & shape as refinement, to produce the ultimate element at the end as the complete distilling process: A timeless story within a deceivingly simple company logo. We hope you like it even more, now that you know the thought process and story behind the design and some of the driving ideals of our company.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1juHlZB

Know your audience

unlovable_dalepartridgeIt seems like such simple and straightforward advice, doesn’t it? Knowing who you are talking to isn’t much of a stretch, most of us think we know exactly who we are talking to via social media, but do we really?

Your audience may or may not be who you think they are.  For some blogs, the distinction of a particular audience may be clearly defined, for others an audience may bleed over into many differing perspectives and entry points for your content. The sooner, and more clearly you can identify the audience for your blog, the better your posts may become.

By way of example, I want to talk about a particular post which a friend of mine shared a day or so back. This post has some good advice, but the author missed the audience, and by doing so has likely alienated a larger swath of people:

“5 steps for loving the unlovable”

Dale’s post starts out simply enough: the intent is to help us all be better people by loving those who least deserve it. Good, solid advice to help us all improve our culture and become a more understanding and cohesive society. But, I’m having some difficulty in reconciling his second point with the title of the piece. In it Dale states:

  “Don’t Reinforce Their Brokenness – As a broken person myself, it’s rare that I don’t recognize my own brokenness. Talk about their strengths. Broken people need less awareness, and more healing.”

Yet, the title of the article “5 steps for loving the unlovable” clearly reinforces the idea that broken people are concretely unlovable. Dale’s voice here seems to be talking directly to people who don’t consider themselves as ‘broken’, and by virtue of this contradiction between advice and title, seems to assume that broken people won’t be reading his post. In fact, his voice generates an “us” and “them” focus that undermines his larger point.

But how would knowing his audience have improved his post? Let’s start with the assumption that those reading Dale’s post are both types of people as defined in his post: those who are ‘broken”, and everyone else. Not a huge stretch here as most people can identify as broken at one point in their lives, if not presently so. With this single, simple understanding that his audience comprises both types, I would expect a more focused choice of words to show compassion and love, rather than the subtle tone of superiority and conflicting messages present in the article as written.

A change in voice is a simple way to adjust for the audience. Given his recognition of being broken himself, rather than using “them” and “their”, a shift to “us” and “we” immediately changes the tone of the article to be more welcoming and inclusive as well as generating a feeling of deeper compassion and connectedness. With that single change, Dale could both drive home the overarching point of his article, while also combating the polarizing effects of the us versus them mindset which permeates our internet culture today. The recognition of an audience that is also broken would have guided Dale’s word choice to more effectively deliver his message.

Knowing your audience doesn’t mean you have to write directly to every different perspective. Rather, knowing your audience means understanding and acknowledging the differing perspectives and allowing those perspectives to help guide you as you create; leading you to the right word choices will do wonders to improve your following and reduce the potential for alienating a previously unknown audience segment.

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1hBDeW2

Of social business and sand castles

sandcastle_xlibber Where do you find the value in social business?

It’s a common question, especially in the corporate world where every activity needs to show some tangible value to justify its continuance. But, tying direct value to every action isn’t an easy task. In fact, doing so is likely the most difficult task facing social strategists today. Why is this?

The answer, like the question, is both simple and utterly complex. You see, the value from social business is seen in the small connections and conversations we have over time, all of which are grains of sand in what will someday make up a castle. Some castles may be a simple overturned pail shape on a busy public beach, others may be expertly crafted life-sized versions like you see in competitions… but in all cases, it is the connections of each grain of sand which come together to build something bigger than themselves.

Each connection you make, each conversation you have, is another grain of sand in the castle of your social business presence. Like sand castles, the value in social business isn’t as quantifiable as counting the grains of sand that make up the whole. The value is in how they are connected and the view of what they build. Some sand castles are simple and effective at bringing value to the child who built it; providing a sense of accomplishment and purity of fun in the building. Others are built for competition and judged on particular criteria to determine the winner. Yet, neither of these examples nor any that fall in between can be considered to have innate value, or likewise a lack of value.  The value in each of these cases is fluid depending on the goals and purpose for each.

In social business, it is indeed the achievement of your defined goals which will show you the value. I’ve blogged before on the need to define your purpose/goals before setting out on a social business strategy. But, of course, even then not all goals are easily quantified. Increasing influence, building digital eminence, and thought leadership are lofty goals which come with very little in the way of reportable metrics for success, so what can we use instead to show the value with these goals in mind? How can we quantify the beauty of a sand castle?

Stories. It is the connection of each of these grains that work to build the beautiful sand castles, the larger picture if you will, and likewise it is the stories of successes reaped from social business connections which combine upon themselves to show the value inherent in social engagement. So, to that end, I’ll leave you with this story that I’ve posted previously and that I believe exemplifies one of the many benefits of blogging:

I had a practical lesson in the benefits of blogging on Friday morning. During a routine skip-level conversation with my program director, I was able to impress upon him some answers to his questions by referring to a few blog posts I’d published that week and prior in the past few months.

Even as I was pointing him to those entries did I realize the value of blogging: I had content available, on demand that I was able to quickly reuse to address a few questions in a relatively concise fashion. Not only did these posts immediately address his questions, but more so they showed that I was a step ahead of the game, that I’d already been thinking about the issue before he even asked.

In this way, blogging for me has become a source of reusable self-generated content I can rely upon to either provide solutions or supplement larger strategy conversations and stands as testament to my expertise around my job and is now working its way to being a solid piece to my resume.

See ;) Reusable, self-generated content to help show the value of efforts. Social business works. To thrive, adopt the role of story-teller and show your audience value rather than just telling them.

.
image credit: (cc)  Some rights reserved by xlibber

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1oQTp4z

Stop talking, start doing.

IMG_0562“How do we get employees engaged in social business?”

That is one of the top questions I am asked directly inside and outside of my present company. While the strategic and logistic answers to this question can be rather complex, it is also based in simplicity: stop talking about it, just start doing it.

When it comes to social business engagement, there comes a time when, as strategists, we talk about it all far too much and don’t follow up with any action… and when individual contributors need to stop just listening and start learning while doing. Enablement sessions, slide decks, conference calls, and email threads won’t get us any closer to being socially engaged. So, instead of talking about what we need to do, we need to just start doing it. Leading by example is the first step in driving this kind of organizational change.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Oddly enough, it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, it also takes quite a bit of work, but ultimately getting started and continuing is easy enough. There is no social channel out there that is so complex that you can’t learn it in an afternoon and master it within a week of using it once daily. Even GooglePlus, the most lamented and derided social channel out there takes relatively little effort to understand and maybe an afternoon of reading blog posts to master.

Now, I’m not urging you to get started here. I am telling you this is a necessity to survive. This isn’t just a nice to have anymore; this is the new way of business. As a company, you need to be engaged and involved in dialog with your customers. As individuals we need to be visible, professionally, to stand out and build our careers. I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in tone this blog has taken over the past few years, moving from a personal journal to more of a professional platform; I can assure you this has directly and positively impacted my own career in social business to great effect.

I’ve spoken before on some of the fears that keep people from engaging in social business. Rather than re-addressing those, I’ll put forth this Call to Action, this simple challenge to help you become more social:

  • Create your own GooglePlus account.
  • Circle me.
  • Say hello.
  • Begin sharing like you would on Facebook (interesting articles, opinion/commentary).
  • Circle more of your friends and colleagues as you find them and as they join.

If you take the above steps, I will promise you this: I will engage with you and help you master G+ within a week, you will begin to have more engaged conversations, and your network will continue to grow organically after that week. All of this will result in helping you become more confident and at ease with being active within the social business atmosphere.

But why GooglePlus, I hear you ask? Many people see G+ as a ghost town, an empty social channel where only Googlers are talking to themselves. Well, if we assume that is the case, then what better place to take those first steps where no one will be around to see you falter? You can post to your heart’s content without fear of saying the wrongs things since “no one” will really see it….
That’s a misconception, of course, as there is a LOT of activity on G+; so much so that my own streams have as much content shared in them as I see on Facebook now…. Where G+ shines in this case, however, is for new users who may be wary of becoming social in a professional realm, is in the use of circles. With GooglePlus circles you can share content with only select people, thus reducing the chance that something you say may be seen by the “wrong” people. It allows you to ease into social sharing until you’re comfortable enough with posting publicly so your posts can have far greater visibility.

Of course, once you’re comfortable on G+ and start your own blog, you can easily enable your Google Authorship to help increase your blog’s SEO (search engine optimization) and connect your profile with the content you create. It is a beautiful, organic win that will help build your own eminence in the digital spaces as you grow in social business expertise and skills.

A year from now, you’ll look back and be happy you started today. Keep putting it off and you’ll have wished you’d started ten years ago…. Don’t miss this opportunity to begin building your own influence. Culture change through leading by example; that  is how you drive deeper engagement among all levels of your organization.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1jVrpfX

Hiring ducks and eagles helps build a social business

IMG_1651 .

I posted in September, 2012 about Building a better business: Hiring ducks and eagles for the right jobs. In that post, I explored the personal experience and positive results of team hiring practices that focused on finding the right person for the right job. The net conclusion of that post being: “Hire to your needs, but also to the candidate’s strengths and abilities. It isn’t easy, but the rewards and your future success depend upon it.”

But, I’d like to take that conclusion a step further now, since “future success” is a bit too nebulous for my taste.

From the social business perspective, hiring the ducks and eagles is a critical portion of our success, as people in the right job tend to be more motivated and passionate about what they do. It is this increased level of passion that is such an important building block of success in social business. Without passion, social business just becomes activities that fall flat, and your audiences will pick up on that immediately. Social businesses with passionate employees, however, are thriving and forging new paths in the world around us. It is that passion which drives employees, either on their own or with slight urging, to get out in the social spaces and share their knowledge and excitement with others. While the passion IS infectious, it also needs to be cultivated.

That passion is either fostered or stifled long before the employee ever has opportunity to play in the social spaces. It begins during the hiring process: identifying and hiring to both your needs and the candidate’s abilities right from the get-go builds that foundation to grow your company into the motivated and passionate social business you need. But it also continues through career development as we adjust and shift in this ever-changing landscape of social business: balancing your changing needs with the talent you have can be the difference between stagnation and real business results. 

Ensuring that you are using the right people, with the right skills, in the right places is a critical factor for business success. Leveraging employee skill sets for support calls versus forum engagement versus content creation will help with driving to this level of success. For example, some employees may be better at writing, some better at talking, others might be great in the limelight of virtual social environments, where some may prefer to work behind the scenes. Finding the skills, talents, and strengths within your existing staff and distributing those in the right spaces appropriate to both your needs and the employee’s passion not only motivates and encourages those passions, but enables the company and employee alike to see true results come from their work. Hire a duck for an eagle’s job (or vice versa) and you will stifle that passion. Likewise, put the duck in the right pond and enable the eagle to soar, and that same stifled passion now becomes a raging fire driving both to spread the excitement and achieve results. 

Your audiences can tell the difference between mere activity and authentic excitement, and they will treat your social business accordingly… Can you really afford to not  hire the ducks and eagles?

I’ll leave you once again with the video that inspired both post titles and over-arching topics: You Can’t Send A Duck To Eagle School:
http://ift.tt/UsCtEc

.

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1jAz6rC