Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unpacking 15 resources and reasons to blog

Blogging's well past 10 years as a trend in social media, yet I meet writers, executives and communicators every month who are just beginning to figure out how, when and whether to put this versatile tool to use.  The good news: Blogs offer more features, tools and opportunities than ever before. Here's a sampling of the latest trends and choices I'm reading about for bloggers of all kinds:
  • Wondering whether to stay strictly professional on a blog?  Read this great post, "This time, it's personal," from (a blog you should read if you're attempting a blog).  And here's a great blog on higher education marketing by Andrew Careaga that occasionally throws in music, a personal interest.  Readers actually want to know more about you. Try it.
  • Looking for bloggers as part of your PR plan?  This Mashable guest post provides lots of links, case studies and perspective. If nothing else, do as it suggests and check out, where you can see all the blogs on one topic aggregated together--a great timesaver.
  • Think your audience can't handle social media?  This sweet, smart post from Dave's Whiteboard describes how he created a private blog--yes, that's possible--for his elderly parents as a workaround because they found email difficult (attachments, files, etc.).  They've shared photos, notes, updates--and have racked up 1,000 posts in this way. The ease of use in blogging is what you should focus on here. If you've got an audience that isn't eager to dip its toes into Facebook or Twitter, perhaps this approach to a private, closed blog will do the trick for collaborations, community sharing and more.  It's a great option for committees, management teams, boards and others who need closed conversations and information sharing.
  • Wondering how to make money from your blog?  Here's one post with 10 tips for monetizing your blog, another on turning a blog into a book.  Remember that while you may not be paid directly, blogs can stand as rich source material about you, and help potential clients understand why they should hire you.
  • Want to blog, but are better at email? is your tool--a site where all you need to do is email your post (including video, pictures, etc.) and they'll do the rest.  Posterous has been on fire, adding new features left and right, of late. Some of them include polls, an upgraded post editor when you want to post from the web, page breaks for posts, a domain registration service so you can get your custom URL right there, the new Facebook "like" buttons for your blog, and a mobile version so your blog looks and works better on mobile devices.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An April shower: The month's top 10 posts

Here's a downpour to download from the blog's most-read tips and topics in April:

  1. Creative tweeting:  How I use Twitter to boost my creativity struck a chord--it's not only tops this month, but one of my all-time top posts. One reader on Twitter called it "the quintessence of why we tweet."  It kicks off a series on the different ways I use Twitter.
  2. New ideas for meeting organizers:  I've posted about what speakers need to know about how social media has changed presentations, but Remixing the conference: 5 cues for organizers takes a different view--and drew a big audience. It includes links and case studies of how other groups are rethinking and reorganizing conference formats, technology and other communications tools on- and off-site.
  3. My mix on Twitter:  Lots of clients and colleagues have asked how I balance personal and professional topics on Twitter, and this post answers those questions, I hope. It's part two of my most recent series on Twitter, still my favorite social medium.
  4. Is your audience only inside the room?  These days, probably not--so I offered 7 ways to reach outside your conference using social media and other tools to grab the interested audience beyond the conference venue, as well as why you might want to do that.
  5. Toward briefer presentations:  Focus your slides, not just your time offers a real-life example of how to keep a large number of speakers from running overtime. It's not in the minutes, I found, but in the number of slides.
  6. Lessons for bloggers:  The don't get caught blog celebrated its fifth birthday this month, and I shared 10 lessons, five years in with perspective and thoughts on how it's done...
  7. And Facebook page-rs, too:  8 winning ways to engage on Facebook pages shares more lessons from my experiments with The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, from keeping a conversation going to building content and advertising.
  8. Everything (plus Twitter) in moderation:  The backchannel's a regular part of most presentations now, so my post on when you're the Twitter moderator offers timely updates and links to more background on how you should juggle this new speaking role.
  9. Made an error that's spreading on Twitter?  How you correct a moving record on Twitter is still a work in progress, but this post shares advice from a journalist team that had to do just that, to get you started.
  10. Here's a scientific elevator speech, describing for a public audience the science of biodiversity and why humans have an impact on the planet--in just 45 seconds. A great new example from noted biologist E.O. Wilson.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weekly writing coach: Drawing a blank

Now, in this blank of things, a harmony,
Home-felt, and home-created, comes to heal
That grief for which the senses still supply
Fresh food.
-- William Wordsworth

Sometimes, no matter what you try, words won't emerge. You're drawing a blank, coming up dry. Trust me, a blogger gets this. Big time.  Here's what I've done when my writing tells me it's Just. Not. Ready.
  • Walk away. Not always a luxury you can afford with a deadline looming, but anyone can walk away from the desk and around the block for a half-hour.  Or, if time isn't of the essence, take time. Wait until the piece comes together in your head--or at least, enough of it to get started.
  • Cast a wider net.  Sometimes, this works when I sense I have an incomplete point, or not enough examples, or more to say--in which case, I start scanning and reading more broadly, to see if I can find the missing pieces to add into the mix.  As I'm always on a hunt for new content, this happens all the time, and I'm less alarmed by it than I might otherwise be. I keep a lot of work-in-progress posts in my blogging platform, ready to go when I have the rest of the goods in hand.
  • Edge into it.  Start a random collection of notes--even a sentence at a time, just stating the point you want to make, without worrying about how it's written. Content is the focus here.  Then organize the points, grouping like items together; you'll soon see what's extraneous or besides the point.  After that, it's an editing task:  Craft the sentences, fix the transitions, add a strong start and finish.
  • Ask about it.  Start a discussion with someone--online, at the water cooler, wherever. "Have you ever thought about...?" might yield an angle you hadn't anticipated, or confirm your perspective. And sometimes that little bit of market research is enough to get your creative juices going.
  • Banish the unicorn.  I always feel for writers (or anyone) who says they can't finish because they're perfectionists. They will never be happy, and may never publish. If your goal is to give me a unicorn, and all I need is a willing horse, consider that all I might want is a ride, not a fairytale.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or the finished.
  • Don't avoid the shorter path.  Sometimes, you may find yourself piling on: Needs more detail. Needs four points, not two. Has to be longer.  Ask yourself why, and, more to the point, whether a shorter, more focused piece will do for now.  You can always break a complex piece into more than one related piece--and often, this focuses the writing more and helps you finish, with material for the next effort. (I sometimes fall into this trap in blogging, and have learned that many short related posts are often better than one very long post. Don't let it happen to you.)
What do you do when you hit a blank, block or other barrier to progress? Share your best advice with the rest of us, in the comments.

New job listing in public engagement at AAAS

My clients at the American Association for the Advancement of Science are recruiting for a program associate position in its public engagement area, which (among other things) creates the Communicating Science workshops for science that I facilitate.  Note that it's a full-time one-year-only position.  Among other qualifications, they're looking for an associate "to play a key role in developing and executing new and ongoing initiatives of the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology."  Among the duties:

· Provide programmatic and development support for the Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology;
· Schedule, organize and coordinate activities associated with public engagement workshops and events;
· Write and edit print and online materials including communications to public engagement stakeholders;
· Plan and implement new projects for public engagement, including researching funding opportunities and assisting Public Engagement Manager with writing grant requests; and
· Devise and implement strategies for increasing the visibility of AAAS and public engagement with science.

They're looking for 3 to 5 years of work experience in communications or education, among other requirements. To apply, visit the AAAS Employment website, and look for requisition number 1799.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How to correct a moving record, on Twitter

You've hit the mother lode and broken news on Twitter...and now you need to make a correction, because what you shared is incorrect--and being shared over and over again by others.  A new format for correcting the record on Twitter is taking shape, and this post on the Columbia Journalism Review blog by Craig Silverman does a great job unpacking it for you.  He uses the fresh example of an @BreakingNews tweet (operated by about a possible second Icelandic earthquake, and while the tweet included a tempered verb to make the news sound less definitive, the re-tweets tended to strip out the nuances. The lesson--still a work in progress--includes these three tips:
  1. Provide a backchannel to add more depth about what's going wrong and why.
  2. On Twitter, one correction isn't enough to be sure everyone gets the message. Repetition over time is essential--think stream, not drop.
  3. Signal clearly.  In this case, saying data "indicates" a second volcano didn't convey the intent--that the news was tentative. Most readers took it as a reality. (This is a common problem in conveying technical and scientific terms, where "theoretical" means "potentially wrong" to public audiences and "hardened fact, proven by research" to scientists, for example.)  Watch those nuances, euphemisms and unintended other uses of your terms.
A hat tip to RobinLloyd for putting this good find on my Twitter doorstep.  What else would you add to this starting list of tips for making corrections on Twitter? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

When you're the Twitter moderator

It's started to kick in that the Twitter backchannel's here to stay as part of any presentation, conference or panel discussion.  As more people use tweets to describe what speakers are saying in real time, and more participants are announcing that they will be live-tweeting a meeting, speakers are asking organizers "Will there be someone monitoring Twitter?" -- a step beyond just doing it themselves.  And at conferences that were were quick to put up screens and broadcast the backchannel--without taking the time to give feedback to the speakers in real time--the organizers are finding that they've got to figure out who'll take on that task.

Speaker coach Olivia Mitchell wrote this useful and free e-book on presenting with Twitter that covers this territory, and there's more in Cliff Atkinson's book, The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever. Jay Rosen added guidance from his efforts to remake a panel at SXSW, although many speakers will not want to be in charge of the Twitter moderation (he suggests having a panelist handle it). In most cases I've encountered, it's been the moderator (for panels), emcee, or a separate designated Twitter moderator, who can be arranged in advance, or pressed into service from those who are tweeting in the audience.  Let me add a few practical tips if you find yourself in this role:
  • Set up a multi-channel way to observe Twitter:  Tweetdeck and other tools like PeopleBrowsr make this easy, with the ability to set up several columns across your screen. You'll want several searches in front of you: one with the session's hashtag, one with the name of the group or its Twitter handle, one for each speaker (name or Twitter handle), and one for retweets (RTs) of the session items.
  • Pay attention to which tweets are in the room, or beyond it:  Those able to tweet fastest and most comprehensively will be in the room, and it's their tweets about room conditions, audio and other problems you should be focused on first.  But keep an eye out for tweets from beyond the room, especially with questions. They're working with less context and their questions may need more detail--so alert the speakers when you convey the question.
  • Figure out how and when to alert the speaker or panel to a Twitter question or issue:  You can call a few "Twitter breaks" to let people in the room tweet while you share some questions privately with the speaker or panel; arrange in advance that you'll raise your hand or a white card when you want to share Twitter questions; or just pass a note to the speaker to "speed up" or "go back and explain part one again."   But make sure you and the speakers know how this will be handled before they start talking.
  • Remember to holler back down the channel:  Be sure to send a reply that lets the questioner know his or her query has an answer, once it's been shared in the room.  Close that loop.  The same goes for alerting the in-room crowd on Twitter that issues have been fixed--don't just announce it out loud, correct it on Twitter.
  • Encourage other tweeters in the audience to share questions they get:  Not everyone "listening in" will use the hashtag or other official channels. Some tweeters' followers will just contact them directly.  At the start of the session, invite them to share those questions, too.
  • Don't neglect either audience.  The folks in the room should not feel you're only taking questions from Twitter, and those on Twitter shouldn't feel like they're talking to a brick wall.  This is why I encourage panels to use a separate moderator for Twitter, so another traditional moderator can scan the room for the live audience's feedback.  What you choose to do will depend on the size of your audience, the outside-the-room interest in the speakers (tough to gauge ahead of time), and the skills of your panel, emcee and moderator.  Remember, even a small group can generate a lot of tweets and comments in a short time!
Check out the related posts below for more details and context on this emerging task for speakers and organizers.

Related posts: All I really need to know about public speaking I learned from Andy Carvin's tweets

Tweet your way to better speaking (with my all-time-favorite tweet from an audience member: "Sweet merciful Shiva! Professor, please stop resting your papers on the microphone. You're killing us.")

Remixing the conference: 5 cues for organizers

How social media remixes public speaking

7 ways to reach outside your conference

Speakers: Learn from Twitter hecklers

Backchannel book: A guide you need now

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekly writing coach: Quote boosters

If you put words in others' mouths in the form of quotes--for news releases, statements or articles--be forewarned (and share this with your media relations colleague):  Quotes are getting big play on Google News, where you can now find pull quotes nestled among search results.  (To find the display, shown above, click on the green phrase "all 1,304 news articles" at the end of the compiled search results. After the first two or three stories, you'll see a quote pulled from the coverage and highlighted as shown.

I've already shared tips on hearing voices--the art of capturing another's voice for quotes or speeches.  But any quote worth its salt also needs to go through these quick tests before you hit "send" or "print":
  • Cut out the throat-clearing:  "We here at the nation's largest nonprofit devoted to solving our terrible housing crisis know the mortgage crisis isn't over by a long shot" is not a quote.  "We know the mortgage crisis isn't over by a long shot" is.  Put the honorifics, throat-clearing and other Christmas-tree decorations elsewhere in your text (or in the recycling bin).  That kind of polishing winds up looking like you put too much wax on the car.
  • Look at the quote out of context:  Right before you make it final, look at the quote with no other copy surrounding it.  Can it stand on its own? Do you see something you didn't notice with all the surrounding text? Fix as needed.
  • Read it out loud, like you mean it:  If it doesn't flow out loud, it won't fly on paper.  Quotes should sound like a real person said them.  Anything else is throat-clearing.
Working with a real utterance?  Make sure you pare it accordingly, but the same tests apply. Those three tests can mean the difference between a quote that gets used and one that's which case, it took up too much space. Make your quotes earn their keep, and I'll keep an eye out for them in Google News.

Limit your slides, not just your time, when speaking

I recently helped a high-tech client put on a day-long seminar on a specialized cybersecurity issue, and the day was to end with a mega-panel of 10 software and hardware vendors--the universe of vendors providing the security solutions we'd spend the day discussing.  I normally turn down invitations to speak on panels of more than 3 people, myself--but in this case, we decided each panelist would be limited to one slide and five minutes. Our goal was to leave as much time for questions as for speakers, and we achieved that goal.

Those panelists balked, squawked, argued and tried to sneak in long videos or animations in their one slide to incorporate more content (we turned those submissions back and said "stick to the rules").   But here's what happened: No matter how much content they got onto their slides, all of them came in under the five-minute limit, but had plenty to say about their products.  In addition, because we limited slide space, what went on the slides--for the most part--were the top-line thoughts, not all the details, so no speaker spent the time reading his or her slides.  If you're looking to focus a panel of speakers--or yourself when speaking--consider making your slide limit shorter than your time limit to force a similar editing process.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Museums move ahead with social media for engagement

Museums have long since moved from hands-off to hands-on, wherever possible  Today's New York Times notes that museum visits are down due to school budget cuts, and museums are using in-person visits to schools--reverse field trips--and their websites to reach out.  Social media's a key to closing that connection gap.  Check out these active efforts not just to reach out, but to involve museum visitors:
  • Coming up this summer at the Museum of Modern Art is the exhibit "Talk to Me," all about the communication between humans and objects (think cellphone, ATM, laptop) and MOMA has launched this online journal that encourages comments, additions and suggestions.  From the blog: "Under the queue tab you'll find projects that piqued our interest and are awaiting further research, whereas if something is tagged as checked, it has already gone successfully through that phase and it sits in our preliminary database, which will not be final until, probably, the opening day of the show."  A real attempt at a behind the scenes blog that--it's hoped--will build interest in the exhibit and draw visitors.
  • This New York Times review of London's new Darwin Center at the Natural History Museum describes how it essentially turns the museum inside out to show visitors how its collections are gathered and curated--and even show them scientists at work in the lab.  The review notes that this museum originated with the collections of amateurs, meaning it was an early example of what we'd call crowd-sourcing today.
  • A new book, The Participatory Museum, comes from Nina Simon, who also writes the Museum 2.0 blog. She used social-networking approaches to build the book, including a wiki that helped develop, edit and even name the book.  Both book and blog are loaded with case studies of participatory museum events and programs.
You don't need to communicate for a musuem to put these ideas to use.  If you've got a physical facility that visitors can come to--a laboratory, an historic archive about your industry or company, a factory--you can make use of these tactics and technologies.

Related posts:  3 location-savvy ways with social media (including the Metropolitan Museum's "Time We Met" Flickr campaign

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remixing the conference: 5 cues for organizers

You could call conferences the original social networking experience:  In the traditional mix at most meetings, attendees can connect with lots of others with shared interests, interact with experts, get recognition from their peers, and find lots of high-quality content and plain old schmoozing opportunities. For the organization, it's a labor-intensive but effective way to communicate with subscribers, members, employees and the world beyond them, and often, a way to generate revenue and cement relationships.

But it's a formula that needs to get shaken up like the glow sticks in that Blendtec blender.  Influenced by social networking, audiences are way ahead of organizers on that score, demanding more and better content, audio-visual support for audience members on the backchannel, and options for watching the conference from afar and for free. To make sure your next conference blends smoothly with these new trends, here are five major areas where remixes are going on, and how some organizations are handling them well:
  1. Encouraging audience posts as part of a remote sharing strategy: This year, I'm starting to see more conferences outside the tech/web 2.0 world focus on encouraging, rather than struggling with or ignoring, audience posts from the conference on Twitter, blogs and Facebook.  Some orgranizers (and related organizations) are recruiting teams of bloggers, like the attendees who recently covered the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations meeting for the Tactical Philanthropy blog, and you can see a summary of bloggers covering the NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) conference here, along with its live-streaming and other real-time options for including far-flung observers.  The 140 Characters Conference, going on this week in New York, posts video and a Twitter stream from the conference on its webpage, making it the go-to place for those of us not in the room.
  2. Moving past traditional panel/keynote speaker formats:  In keeping with our expanded appetites for the latest information and our short attention spans--two results of social networking sites--audiences are looking for shorter speaking times, varied session length and even more content. I'm on a workshop program committee that's figuring out how to insert an Ignite!-style series of 5-minute talks into the program to break up longer sessions and to offer more content in a short timeframe.  There are plenty of similar models you can find at, where talks are 3, 6, 9, 12 or 18 minutes long. Or push yourself and try the models from 140 Characters Conference, where panels get just 15 to 20 minutes--for the entire panel.  The Tactical Philanthropy blog team got together after a day at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations meeting to discuss more ideas for blowing up the conference model, a good reflection of the discussion your meeting attendees are likely having.
  3. Using social media to organize sessions and elicit better speaker proposals:  The National Association of Science Writers has been planning its 2010 workshops on Ning (not as accessible an option next month, when Ning stops supporting free networks such as the one we set up to plan this meeting).  The group on Ning replaced a listserv and made it easier for us to share links, documents and threaded discussion points.  The Web 2.0 Expo New York used social media to improve its content, offering potential speakers a webinar (later posted on YouTube and SlideShare) as well as blog posts on how to submit a successful proposal. This year, the expo required a video from speakers and moderators, an option that's much easier to require today.
  4. Talking to participants (near or far) before, during and after the meeting: In addition to audience tweets and blog posts, more conferences are turning to social networks to elicit audience input, share news leading up to the meeting, post background information on the speakers and "handouts," and more.  The National Conference on Volunteering and Service has a Facebook page for its annual gathering, to be held this year in New York in June, and is already actively announcing scholarships, open registration dates and more. The Texas Conference for Women's Facebook page is focusing on topics relevant to women, and using current news to remind attendees of related sessions at the previous conference; it's a great approach to keeping your ear to the ground and knowing what your attendees are thinking and talking about coming into your conference.
  5. Remix your technical support.  With audiences now expecting to use smartphones and laptops throughout a conference, it's wise to reorganize your audio-visual and tech support so that extra outlets and surge protectors, as well as wi-fi, are standard offerings at your next meeting.  Likewise, having "Twitter moderators" to help every panel keep an eye on the Twitter stream during talks will allow your speakers to take questions from afar (and know in real time when an audience backlash is happening online).  Finally, many of the shorter speaking formats noted above put less emphasis on slides or automate them so they fit a rigid time slot.  Adjust your settings accordingly.  These days, the audience may need as much backup as the speakers do, if not more.
UPDATE:  Alert reader Elizabeth Miller shared these links to more examples of handling post-panel web resources:
  • collects 6 apps that newspapers (or anyone else) can use --a news-video widget, a customizable political-facts widget, a Facebook news app. a print self-publishing tool for news content and a tool for annotating and organizing source documents. All the apps were funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and presented at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference.  The link here goes to the resource page for the panel, and it's noted that "since we have only 50 minutes to do six presentations, we will not have time for Q&A. However, the panel will be available to answer questions after the session and at the Innovation Salon. We also hope you use this site to send us your questions either via commenting on the site, or live, using twitter and our hashtag for this session: #kfapps."
  • The follow-up page for the "Future of Context" session at SXSW looks like this, and includes not only audio, a tweet archive, and other summaries, but links to other blogs that continued discussing the topic.  Eloquent Woman blog readers have seen my recommendation of Jay Rosen's excellent summary of how that panel was put together in a way that accommodated before, during and after contact with the audience, another great model for organizers to consider.
Related posts:  How social media remixes public speaking

7 ways to reach outside your conference

Speakers: Learn from Twitter hecklers

Backchannel book: A guide you need now

Monday, April 19, 2010

How I balance personal & professional on Twitter

One of my nicer compliments for a personal tweet,
 from Karen Malone Wright
I use social networks for personal as well as professional reasons, and have been trying to do so without restricting who sees what--in part to show my clients that it's possible, in part because I want to be the same person in work, in real life and in social networks. Twitter is where I get the most questions (and compliments) about how I balance my posts between the personal and the professional, although I try to follow the same path on other sites.  Here, at the request of many fellow tweeters, are the tactics I use to guide my balancing act:
  1. Don't be afraid to share personal details and perspective:  Despite the arch implication by this New York Times reporter that people don't think before they post on Twitter, I hear from plenty of folks who think too much about much so, they don't dare share anything personal.  Just as you share some personal information in the office or at networking events--your golf game, family vacations or pictures, big life events, what you thought about the big game, what you're doing this weekend--you can expand our view of you online, as well.  We're ready for you.
  2. Think through what to leave out:  In my Twitter posts, you will not read about disagreements with clients, bad dates, my location at any given moment, or how bored I am in this meeting. I withhold plenty of personal (and professional) information without hesitation, since my work world is part of this scene.  All the usual limits apply here, so if information is confidential or should be, leave it out...and figure out where you'll draw your boundaries so you are comfortable.  Then, step out of them a bit.
  3. Pick--and stick to--a few personal topics:  The trick to interleaving your posts with personality, I've found, is to select a few personal topics about which you're passionate.  Those who follow me on Twitter often read about what I'm preparing for dinner or recipes that catch my eye, my progress with guitar lessons, a little about my travel, the art projects I'm working on and music I'm listening to or excited about.  But you might love dogs, row competitively, see interesting things on your walk home from work through a big city, or be on a quest to find the best barbecue within 100 miles, with tips to share. Tell us about it.  Choosing a few topics, and tweeting about them regularly, gives people the chance to follow you in a different way. Make yourself "sticky" and memorable.
  4. Make sure you're adding value in general:  Having a good reputation for sharing quality information of your own, balanced with shared posts from others, makes you an MVP on Twitter. When you add the spice of real-life topics, you've got me hooked.
  5. Don't try too hard to be personally perfect.  Sharing a tweet that says "I'm writing team memos at midnight and loving it!" or "Basking in the warm glow of all the compliments from today's highly successful panel discussion at the Very Important Networking Group Luncheon" are not the candid, personal tweets I'm talking about.  Try not to try so hard.  As I've said before, you can't be Mary Poppins in social media.  Trust me on this:  Your relentless parade of professional accomplishment reads as, well, just plain relentless.  Show us the human in there.  It's called "social" media, so be sociable.
  6. Be ready and responsive when people react:  Just as in real life, sharing some details about your interests will spark conversations and reactions.  Don't crawl back into your turtle shell when this happens! Instead, ask about the other person's perspective, and find out more about what makes them tick on this topic.  I've done that, and now I know who all my guitar-playing, cooking, art-making, traveling clients are. Expect that people will be genuinely interested. Be open to their interest.
  7. Engage your followers on your non-work topics:  As part of my exploration of learning guitar, I took a road trip to the Martin Guitar factory last summer...and asked my Twitter followers to suggest songs I could put together for an ultimate guitar playlist for the trip, which resulted in 4 CDs of songs.  And many nights, my "what I'm making for dinner" post results in a recipe request or inspires another home cook among my tribe. Engaging followers on the personal side helps cement relationships
You can find me on Twitter as @dontgetcaught.  How do you balance personal and professional on Twitter and other social networking sites?

Related posts:  United's deft hand with social media

You can't be Mary Poppins in social media: Why you gotta be willing to suck

Your infinite variety in social media

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekly writing coach: Website, finally

Here's another reason why you should follow the AP Stylebook on Twitter:  Big news like this style change, from Web site to website.  Some of us will be checking this one off our wish lists do update your style (if you haven't, like me, been using this for years already).  It's a good reminder to send your input to the stylebook, and Twitter's a great forum for doing so.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For the blog's 5th anniversary: The top 10 over 5

I started the don't get caught blog five years ago today as the "news & info" section of my website. Today, it is the website, and maintains its original mix of content, which mirrors my consulting: communications and social media strategies, training and content development. (Some of the most popular posts come from topics where those things overlap--such as thinking about a strategy and training needs when you're a speaker who wants to use social media to advantage.) Over the past five years, some posts stand out as the readers' most popular, so here's a birthday sampling of the blog's top 10 posts from the past five years:
  1. From 2007: Does your media trainer use Bob Newhart? suggested you might want an updated version of traditional media training these days; my suggestions are here.
  2. From 2007: Weekly writing coach: Passive-aggressive turned its lesson on itself, showing you one graph with passive verbs, then a rewrite making them active.
  3. From 2007: What to ask reporters offers 11 questions you can ask reporters, starting with "Are you on deadline?"
  4. From 2007: Who talks more: Men or women? may surprise you. For me, this post was among the things that prompted me to launch DGC's sister blog, The Eloquent Woman.
  5. From 2008: What should I do with my hands?  is one of the most common questions I get when I train speakers and presenters.  The issue is hands at rest, not while gesturing--and this will tell you how knowing what to do with your hands helps your speaking.
  6. From 2009:  Speakers: Learn from Twitter hecklers covered a backchannel explosion at a higher education conference, and turns it into positive lessons for speakers.
  7. From 2009: Tweeting at meetings gets controversial marked the uncomfortable transitions going on at conferences when the audience starts to communicate on the backchannel.  It's one of my strategy posts that bridges traditional communications and social media.
  8. From 2010:  Weekly writing coach: S.M.A.R.T writing offers tips for both writers and their managers so that assignments are made--and carried out--in smart ways.
  9. From 2010:  Ten ways I use Twitter to boost my creativity sparked a lot of tweeting and is the first in a series on how I use this facile communications tool.
  10. From 2010: How social media remixes public speaking also bridges strategy, training and content, helping speakers orient their space in a social-media world.
I'm looking forward to giving you more solid content in the sixth year of the blog, and, as always, use your feedback, questions and ideas to shape this work.  Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Replay online conversations with new Google search tool

Whether you're seriously monitoring a public debate or discussion, or analyzing how news unfolds, Google's new "replay" search tool  (described here on Mashable and here on Google's blog) offers a wealth of new options for communicators.  The feature will be rolled out in English in a few days, but you can go here to play with it now--and in future, look for it under advanced search options, listed as "Updates."  You can pull the highlight across the timeline to see tweets that occurred at the high and low points and across the full spectrum of the conversation.  The feature is based on Twitter feeds, and to begin with, only goes back to February 2010, but soon will cover all tweets from Twitter's launch date of March 21, 2006.  Let me know what you discover with this new tool and how you'll use it in your measurement mix.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

weekly writing coach: Twitter style

As tweets creep into the writer's list of things to do, you may find helpful these style guides and resources related to Twitter, which can help you craft, analyze, reproduce or cite tweets:
  1. A new blog from Twitter looks at best practices for media companies using Twitter, with case studies and examples.  Here's just one: The blog recently shared these guidelines for reproducing tweets in news stories or other online coverage.
  2. The book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form will help you with posts on Twitter as well as status updates on other social sites.
  3. The Twitter Book remains one of my favorites (and not just because @dontgetcaught is in it).  It uses real tweets to show best practices and style ideas for crafting and sharing your tweets.
Find more books on social media in my Amazon store.

On a quest for communications training? Put the 5 Ws on your checklist

Who, what, when, know them from constructing news stories, but how can those questions help you figure out your professional development? Whether you're looking for training to reboot your own skills -- something many communications directors neglect, by the way -- or seeking training for your team, the "5 Ws" approach can help you choose the right path to progress. (Trainers you interview also may want to know the answers to some questions on this list.) Make these questions part of your search:

  • Who really needs this training most?
  • Is the trainee going to take advantage of the opportunity?
  • Is the trainee likely to resist the training, making this a waste of time and money?
  • Would a large class or one-on-one coaching work better for this person?
  • If the trainee manages others, will she be trained with peers rather than subordinates?
  • In the case of topics like social media, is our team well ahead of, or behind, the curve? Will we need more customized training to meet us where we are?
  • Should this be an off-site training to avoid distractions and build focus?
  • Should this be an on-site training to make it easier for people to attend?
  • Does the location need to be secure in other ways?
  • Can I get the trainer to come here or be otherwise flexible in terms of location?
  • Can I schedule this earlier in the day to take advantage of better energy and fewer interruptions?
  • If I have a particular goal in mind--like prepping for a big speech--have I allowed enough advance time to work with the trainer?
  • Do I need this training now to push me past a plateau?
  • Have I thought through where this training falls in my career steps?
  • Should I put off this training until I've done some preliminary work?
  • If I offer this training to my team members now, are they likely to leave afterward--or can I use it to retain them?
  • Am I choosing training as a path toward promoting this person?
  • Do I want this training to correct a persistent problem? Is that realistic?
  • Does the trainee need this to fill blanks in experience?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The devil's in the comments: Is anonymous dead?

Today's New York Times includes an update on where you stand with anonymous comments, particularly on news sites, where policies are changing--in part, due to a case involving anonymous comments on a Cleveland Plain Dealer story that disparaged a local lawyer and may have come from a judge.  Among the changes to watch out for are:
  • Giving priority to named and trusted commenters, as the Washington Post and Huffington Post consider "ranking commenters based in part on how well other readers know and trust their writing," and whether they use their real names.
  • Abolishing anonymous comments altogether, as some journalists have recommended.
  • Letting readers choose to see subscriber-only comments, as the Wall Street Journal does.
The article notes that Facebook and other social networks have helped make familiar taking credit for your updates and comments, with your name and photo attached, and that, overall, editors see the need for anonymous comments dwindling. At the same time, other sites--notably, U.S. federal government blogs and websites--routinely allow anonymous comments. What's your comments policy? Will these trends change it?

UPDATE:  Check out this Nieman Labs post with data on how Gawker improved the quality of its comments by tiering them, a move that appeared to discourage many from commenting at all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Facebook pages: 8 winning ways to engage

I've spent nearly a year experimenting with a Facebook page for The Eloquent Woman, my blog on women and public speaking.  Both the blog and the page are designed to serve as resources and as marketing for the speaker training and coaching services I offer--but the page has turned into a content resource, thriving community, and wonderful marketing tool.  Here are eight of the many lessons I've gleaned from working with the Facebook page to engage fans and readers:

  1. Plan a content burst to get started:   I started the Facebook page as I launched a contest on the blog, offering 15 weeks of free online speaker coaching and a Flip HD camcorder.  That gave me a month of updates on the contest, including related blog posts and deadline reminders, to get started--plus the updates from the online coaching that followed.  As with a blog or Twitter account, planning ahead for regular updates is critical to building (and keeping) an engaged audience.  Don't launch the page until you know where the first several weeks of content are coming from.
  2. Use the page to build content for your site or blog:  A Facebook page is ideal for field-testing your blog or website topics, and crowd-sourcing reactions, responses and tips.  Here's a recent example where I asked fans to share their best piece of speaking advice, knowing that most fans like to show what they know as well as learn. This yielded plenty of content for a related blog post, allowing me to let it work more than once. To spark these insights, ask open-ended questions, post articles and ask for reactions, or share your offline updates and activities to get reactions.  The result is not only fodder for blog posts, but detailed background on who your audience is.
  3. Use built-in page features to engage: Explore and try engaging fans with Facebook's built-in options for pages: discussions, video and photo posts, comments, polls and more. I started several discussions, promoted them on the wall, and kept that tab prominent. I knew I was on the right track when a new fan started a discussion on how to give her mother's eulogy. I responded, and so did other readers who'd gone through the same thing. She later reported back to us--with my encouragement--on how she did, and on the tips she found most useful. Now that discussion is a permanent resource on the page, and on the blog, where I recreated the discussion for a moving post.
  4. Pay attention to your house rules:  On occasion, other businesses (and even fans) post promotional material on my page's wall (or in one case, sent messages to all my fans but me) that nearly always prompt complaints. I've got a quick, non-anxious way to turn these around: I remove the post, then message the poster directly and privately to explain that I've done so and that my fans have consistently asked that such messages not be included. In most cases, that works fine.
  5. Plan some scheduled content:  I've started "Talk to me Tuesdays," a simple effort to ask, every Tuesday, "What's your question about public speaking?" or "what's on your mind about speeches and presentations?"  Nearly every week, I get good, basic questions I can answer directly and, often, with pointers to resources on my blog.  Here's a recent week's worth of questions, which prompted one fan to say "these are the best threads for concrete speaking advice."
  6. Consider whether you're siphoning your own web traffic:  You can feed blog updates directly and automatically into a Facebook page, and it's an easy way to go.  But sharing your full feed there may mean you're reducing your blog or website's traffic.  Facebook's doing a better job reporting page views and other readership statistics, but figure out how (and why) you want to post your web content here, and where you want the readership statistics to count first.
  7. Advertise on Facebook with a call to act:  Facebook ads are inexpensive, easy to target precisely, and easy to measure.  You can set limits on the audience size and reach, and on what you spend daily. I started by advertising the contest with a call for entries, then with ads to encourage readers to join, learn and share insights on speaking. Both approaches yielded fans who've stayed with the page and contributed actively.  Once you have a core fan base, be sure to advertise periodically by targeting friends of fans, as your new targets will see whether their friends have already fanned your page.
  8. Mark other exits for your Facebook highway:  Facebook offers widgets to share your growing fan list in real time on your blog or website, making it easy for fans of your site or blog to join the page. But you need to use all your other options for promoting the page and driving fans there, including reminders and updates in your blog content; taglines at the ends of posts to suggest page participation (and offer links); advertising; and calls to your fans to share the page with their friends, judiciously used.  Remember, too, the most organic way to promote your page is with engagement by fans--the more they comment or "like" your posts, the more your page will show up in their feeds where their friends can see it.
I'm close to 3,000 fans as of this writing, less than a year in.  Some of them will buy my books and speaker-related services, some will refer other business to me, many will just be fans who get something out of the page, but I welcome them all.  Will you be one of them?  Join us at The Eloquent Woman on Facebook.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Blogging: 10 lessons, five years in

Sign in an Austin, Texas, taxicab
In less than a week, it'll be five years since I launched this blog. Today, I have two blogs and contribute to two more (plus guest posts here and there.) Within a half hour after someone leaned over at a luncheon about corporate blogging and said, "You should be doing this," I realized blogging was ideal for me--and my business--in a host of ways.  I come at it with some advantages, chief among them my training as a journalist, writer and editor. I know how to source stories, write them quickly and edit them tightly, and when to break some rules, and blogging style, for me, remains just good magazine writing.  But blogging also been a great learning process for me.  Here are some of the things I've discovered, five years in:
  1. I found that 'lost' writing time:  I spent the early part of my career as a writer, then moved further up the management chain, thinking, "Someday, I'll do more writing again."  Five years into blogging, I'm writing enough that I'm now pulling books out of the blogs.  Blogs are a facile writing tool precisely because they make the rest easy, from storing your notes in draft to making the graphics and extras easy to post.
  2. My website got better:  I laughed inside the first time I went to a professional networking event and met a reader of my blog...who didn't realize it. Instead, she said, "I love your website because it's so frequently updated!" She didn't have to know it was a blog. Having a blog helps your website stay updated, hit the search engines, and easily incorporate video, audio, pictures and more.  As a result, while this blog originally appeared as the "news & info" section of my website, today it is the main page, and my website's no longer a pixelated brochure out of my corporate presence.
  3. Readers rock:  Building up a readership takes time, and you will do it over and over again as readers come and go. Five years in, I get my best blogging ideas from readers, who send me links, questions, or even specific requests for posts that tackle what they've been wondering about.  If content is king, reader ideas are the gold that makes his crown. I'm always looking for ways to reward those readers!
  4. ..and there are two kinds of readers:  At least.  But when you start blogging, you have (or should) the readers for whom you're aiming, and the ones who fall outside that group but still in your path.  In my case, I started blogging as a resource for my clients and trainees, as a followup to our work together, and for prospective clients who might want to know more about my approach to communications strategies, training and content. I'm happy to say that I've met and worked for some wonderful surprise clients, who also found me after having crawled all over this blog.  When that hapens, my clients are more knowledgeable about where I'm likely to take them, and more comfortable. The corollary to that is...
  5. Making money from your blog isn't always obvious.  Mine primarily comes from referrals:  Potential clients are referred to my blog (or to me), research me on the blog, then hire me.  Or they refer others to me.  And for those who have been clients, the blog's part of my retention strategy:  I always want them to find updates they can use here, and when I am able to share their case studies and examples, I do. It's not just marketing, it's content, it's additional material, it's followup, it's sparking ideas at a time when they're needed.  Blogs can serve a multitude of business purposes, if you let them.
  6. When it comes to content, waste not, want not:  I get into a cab in Austin, Texas, and see the sign in the window that you see in the picture above.  It made me laugh in recognition--the driver and I have the same goals for our different businesses. And so yes, I pulled out my everpresent Flip cameraand later pulled a still from that short video, just for the blog.  Two minutes, great photo, angle for a post or part of a post.  I read widely, ask people for ideas, and make use of every scrap of information that might be useful to readers.  As a result, I rarely run out of ideas.
  7. Blogging's changed my identity, to some:  In journalism, you come up learning the old joke, "Freedom of the press belongs to the guy who owns one" -- and blogging means that anyone can own their own "press" these days.  So it's amusing to me, as a former journalist, that some folks now refer to me as a journalist again, or just as a blogger.  (I'm really a consultant who blogs, mind you--and if truth be told, I'm also a publisher.)  Others see me as an early adopter, which I truly am not, having entered this trend when it was a safe six-year-old phenomenon.  But those are just signs of the adjustments everyone's making to social media and the roles it creates for us.
  8. Consistency is key, and integrity is better.  I've counseled many clients that if they want to call their blogs, "Daily X," it had darn well better be daily--you'd think that'd be obvious, but no.  Consistency in posting is the best mantra, even if you post only once a week.  Even better is integrity:  Don't violate your own policies, do announce changes rather than let people wonder, answer all questions, post all the comments except the ones that violate your stated policy (you do have one, right), and do the right thing.
  9. Real works better.  Have some opinion. Share perspective. Get specific.  Don't push yourself to write about something you don't care or know about.  Do give the readers some clues to who you really are.  To be honest, this took me some time in blogging, but came to me more naturally on Twitter, and now I'm consistent in both mediums.  So if you follow me, you will hear about my effort to learn guitar, my travels and occasionally what I'm cooking for dinner, in addition to what I'm sharing about social media and communications and my work doings.  As a result, I have forged stronger bonds with clients and made a boatload of new friends.
  10. Ask why.  I am fortunate that people often introduce themselves to me saying, "I just love your blog." And I always say, "Thank you so much--and tell me why."  If you miss the opportunity to seek feedback from readers in any form--in person, in the comments, in the other forums where your feed appears--you're missing an essential way to understand your blog and your readers.  Readers rock (see number 3), so rock with them.  Ask and find out.
Thanks for reading this list and the blog.  Please start leaving me another five years' worth of ideas, questions and comments!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Weekly writing coach: hearing voices

Do you put words in someone else's mouth? If you write letters, speeches or op-eds for your CEO or president or anyone else, you need to figure out her voice, pronto.  Without a good basic analysis of your principal's voice, your written efforts are more likely to fall flat or come back with extensive edits.  Here are five ways to start hearing--and codifying--the voices you hear and write for.  And if these are not new to you, are you actually doing them?  If not, plan to take all five steps once a quarter, to be sure your writing stays in tune with your principal's voice.  If you write only for yourself, you can use these steps to better understand your writing and speaking voice:
  1. Listen and analyze:  Whenever you have the chance to listen to the person you're writing for, do it, whether it's live or recorded, scripted or spontaneous.  Then make notes to analyze what you heard.  How does she start out or welcome people, or conclude? What words does he turn to again and again? Why?  Where does she trip up, pause awkwardly or lose a train of thought? 
  2. Consult:  If your company or organization's large enough to employ you to write for someone, others have insights.  So interview them, too--ask the same questions you'd ask the principal, then add their comments alongside those of the person you write for.  Are they in conflict? Time to figure out whether that will pose a problem for you later.
  3. Talk:  Take periodic opportunities to interview, lunch or just meet with the person you're writing for. Insist on it.  Ask questions about her thoughts on how she wants to sound, the image she wants to portray and how that does or doesn't translate into words for her.  What does she read? What does she find funny/hateful/beyond the pale?  Check out my list of questions you should ask the speaker for whom you're writing to help you write speeches.
  4. Keep it real:  If the person you're writing for normally doesn't quote Aristotle, use slang or crack jokes, leave 'em out. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Texan with a folksy appeal despite his Washington insider status, would routinely edit speeches so that quotes from Aristotle or Descartes were credited with "as my dear old daddy used to say..."  The quotes were verbatim, but the credit changed to suit his style.
  5. Capture feedback from edits and actualities:  Add to your stash of knowledge two more insights:  What gets edited, and what gets said or published.  Don't obsess over these, but do take the time to inquire and think about about what happened to tossed-out phrases or words that caused a stumble. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

11 ways I use Twitter to boost my creativity

I'm hearing fewer "but what is it for?" questions about Twitter these days--perhaps a natural question, given its openness--but more people asking how I use Twitter.  So here's a slice of that, the first of a series of ways to answer the question.  I'll start with creativity, which for me is a work essential and also my greatest motivator.  With two blogs, a busy speaking schedule, and a business that offers clients creative communications strategies, training and content, I need all the ideas and inspiration and energy I can get.  I draw creativity from many sources, including pursuing my own art and music, but Twitter's an indefatigable fountain for me to drink from.  Here's how I use Twitter to boost my creativity:
  1. To get viewpoints from many nations:  My follows include people on almost every continent (still waiting for some outposts at the poles to find me) who speak at least five languages. The ability to stream a world view's important to me, and gives me a richer perspective.  And it means there's always someone to hear from, no matter what the hour is.
  2. To fill a varied inbox:  I follow an odd mix of people, and I mean that as a compliment. My clients are always looking for ideas on using social media in their varied sectors, and the topics and people I follow on Twitter run the gamut--it helps me to find new ideas and out-of-the-box examples
  3. To get news, fast and furious:  I'm used to having lots of news streams, but Twitter is hands down the best and the fastest.  So if a late-breaking item fits in with something else I'm writing or speaking about, I have it at my fingertips, no matter where I might be. I can dip into the stream and enrich my work with it instantly.
  4. To learn from my curious followers:  Sometimes, the best way to see something anew is to be questioned about it by someone who's genuinely curious and doesn't know you well.  My followers on Twitter ask me all sorts of questions--about my blog, about public speaking, about social media, about food and travel and playing guitar--that prompt me to think with care about what I do.  It's a great playback machine.
  5. To master the art of tight spaces:  As a longtime editor, Twitter's my favorite tool to push my writing back into brevity. Making every word count rules this space, whether I'm crafting my own message or tightening someone else's so I can retweet it.  The exercise, repeated dozens of times a day, is an essential writing and editing tool and forces you to think differently about your words.
  6. To work with great collaborators:  Having a regular crowd to help source my work is the greatest gift I get from Twitter. Many of my followers have become my best sources, sharing items in their streams that they know I'll appreciate (and vice versa), or pointing me to them publicly or in direct messages.  They alert me to typos, angles, sources, ideas and perspectives I could not easily find on my own.  We share manuscripts, support and encouragement.  How does it get better than that for the creative soul?
  7. To find serendipity:  One day, I read posts from a communications colleague who was off to protest a cement kiln, followed by posts from a cement industry association on green uses for the stuff, and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (a former employer of mine) on industry regulations...quite the cement mixer of people I follow, isn't it?  That kind of coincidence coughs up themes, gives me a broader and richer perspective and jolts my thinking.
  8. To have fun:  An essential element in my creative process, the fun comes in sharing enjoyment--whether that comes from humorous news items or a shared love of cooking.  Because I let loose with humor once in a while on Twitter, I get plenty back...and because I share personal interests, I have a richer sense of my collaborators on Twitter, and they of me.  We get to stretch our cleverness muscles in much the same way we help each other learn more.
  9. To spark plain old ideas.  Some of the most popular blog posts I've ever written came from questions on Twitter.  "Could you help me do this...?" "Where do you find that?"  or "What do you think about...?" are my favorite queries, because they always spark ideas.  I think of them as reader requests, and run with them--and it never fails.
  10. To grow with an expandable universe:  Many of my very favorite follows of all were initially surprises to me...friends of friends, or those retweeted by people I followed first, who kept, well, landing on my doorstep, so to speak.  As for the colleagues I already knew in real life, some of them have surprised me, too, in this space. To me, Twitter's great possibility isn't about the numbers, but about the ability to expand a network of new thinkers in ways that make sense and surprise me all at the same time.
  11. To take a refreshing break:  I may have my head down, focused on a deadline, or be forced offline on a plane for a few hours. But Twitter's always an easy break to bring me back into the varied world I inhabit online.  Watching the stream go by, even for a few minutes, is bound to spark some ideas.

Monday, April 05, 2010

For Communications Directors: Tomorrow

My free monthly newsletter, For Communications Directors, is coming out tomorrow, Tuesday, April 6, with fresh content not yet on this blog. This month, I'll be looking at the quest for training, with a master checklist you can use to think through everything from who needs it to when to schedule it.  I've added questions you should ask trainers like me, and special considerations when you're considering a writing coach, speaker training, updated media training and more.  And you'll find my latest favorite style guide, perfect for social media writing.

A reminder: Even if you have been on my newsletter subscriber list previously, you need to sign up anew for this one.  Go here to subscribe to For Communications Directors now.

7 ways to reach outside your conference

Being present at a conference is still the best way to get the whole experience. But there are good reasons to consider opening up your conference to those who couldn't (or wouldn't) attend.  It's a great way to grow a base of future attendees and whet their appetites for your offerings; generate more revenue even when the hall is full; raise the convener's visibility and reputation; gain vital market data on those who do and do not attend; field-test the wider popularity of key sessions and workshops; and provide a cost-effective alternative in tight budgetary times.

There's one more essential reason:  Audiences now have the keys to unlock what's going on in conference sessions and share it with the world.  You'll do best if you follow their lead and use these tactics to expand your conference's reach:
  1. Make it easy for attendees to tweet and share:  This is still the easiest way to expand conference reach. Make it clear that tweeting and otherwise sharing conferences is encouraged, and offer hashtags at the start of every session.Look for ways to provide extra outlets, free wireless Internet, and charging stations for laptops.  If I were a sponsor or advertiser, I'd stop handing out branded pens and start focusing on giveaways like mini-surge-protectors and charging stations, and offer to sponsor the wi-fi for a day or the whole better way to be popular. 
  2. Add nearby satellite locations with live-streamed proceedings: The ever-sold-out TED conferences limit attendance and feature very high registration fees. But TEDActive, a simultaneous event, offers attendees a similar setting, high-definition simulcasts from TED, plus live talks and music and mingling. TED 2011's already sold out, but TEDActive for 2011 is still taking applicants as of this writing.
  3. Add regional satellite locations with live-streamed proceedings: The 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTEN for short) starts in a few days in Atlanta, but is offering low-cost live viewings in Austin, New York and Washington, DC, plus additional livestreams and webinars. And that alone is creating buzz in advance of the meeting. As with the first option, this preserves the networking aspects as well as the conference content.
  4. Share video on Facebook, UStream and YouTube:  This might mean video extras, like interviews with keynote speakers or hallway chats with important attendees, but get some video online during and after the conference, and make sure your streamed sessions are archived and easy to find.
  5. Make RSS mandatory for all online conference content:  Use TED as your model here, too--its RSS page includes feeds for high-def, video and audio from its conferences and subsequent online postings of TED talks, all of which are made available for free after the conference.  (While you're at it, share your closed proceedings later online.)
  6. Get speakers to share:  Ask speakers to post their bios, handouts and background material online in advance of the session, and their slides, texts or transcripts after the session (it'd make sense to have RSS feeds here, too).  And if speakers will tweet or take questions on Twitter or other social sites, so much the better. While this takes advance work, make your commitment to a rich online offering clear early--and show speakers what's in it for them.
  7. Ask non-attendees to send in questions:  In advance of your sessions, ask attendees to submit questions via Twitter, email or other social sites (and give them a deadline so you have time to sort the questions and share them with speakers).  Go here to see one example of how the White House is handling submitted citizen questions.  Make sure speakers know about and address at least some of the submitted questions, and consider using a Twitter moderator on each panel to keep an eye on--and share--questions as they come in during the session.
One counter-trend that I don't recommend:  Cracking down on audience posts during conference sessions, or limiting what reporters can cover, as a number of medical societies did recently when they banned reporters from using video or audio recording, even to take notes.  Try looking at the live-and-in-person experience as what's unique, and the rest of the sharing a great marketing tool -- the latter can never really trump the former.

For a free newsletter of monthly tips about communications and social media strategies--with content before it appears on this blog--subscribe to For Communications Directors now.