If you're around tomorrow, the eCairn team is also showing a demo of it's conversation tracking product during a FREE webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 5 (11:30a – 12:00p CT). Here's a brief video peak at eCairn Conversation:
While talking with a rural shoe retailer a few days ago, I asked how many people walk in front of the store on an average day, including walk-ins. She had no idea. Never has paid attention to such a number. I asked how many walk-ins she gets in an average day. Not a clue.
It's a beautiful store inside and out. Set on a gorgeous town square kitty-corner from the courthouse. But like many small, rural stores – it's in trouble.
So what did we do? We set up a Conversation Station (No,not a blog. Not yet anyway).
A few of her friends are going to set up outside and chit-chat to passersby (and get a count) for the next week or so. As part of our planl, we're going to:
Count the people that walk directly in front of the store
Count the people that walk across the street
As best we can, count the drive-bys
Observe what's different – when or why do folks stop at other window displays, or what makes folks walk-in those other stores
After a good sample, we can decide what, if anything, can be done with the signage, the window displays, and the opportunities for engagement.
Part of the problem is, she's been trying a lot of different tactics and "things" to drum up business - but she has never kept score. Sure, she knows the bottom line, but nothing around and leading to that bottom line.
She's also fallen into the trap of staying behind the counter (and often, in the backroom waiting for the doorbell). The traffic outside has been just noise. Upon Engagement, We'll Find Signal.
I’ve had the privilege of working with online learning communities for over a decade.
Starting in the mid-90s with the AOL Greenhouse’d Real Fans, onto AOL Community Program Manager (overseeing People Connection and several channel communities) and continuing with my work here at ConverStations, I’ve always tried to look for ways to help create communities of fans and of learners.
The NEW Social Learning (@newsociallearn) is a guide to creating your own “community of learners” by embracing and integrating social and mobile tools in the training and learning process.
Written by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner, this book offers real examples and guidelines in how to implement engagement, listening skills, and most importantly, how to build collective intelligence from within and outside of your organization’s silo.
Some professions are ahead of the curve (marketing pros and educators come to mind), but there are many cubicle centers and manufacturing mobs, retailers and customer service sectors who are keeping their blinders on tight, doing training like it’s still 1989.
The NEW Social Learning can assist in a transformation that makes sense and creates a learning environment that makes meaning.
Whether the boardroom or the classroom, this book should be in your hands and under your yellow highlighter – and definitely part of your organizations training & development curriculum.
Here’s a video look at what some learning execs are talking about:
In two words: Buy It (already available on Kindle!)
Folks know I invest a lot of time at Panera Bread. Rather than pay rent on an office space, I've found for my work – Panera works better (and it's a few dollars less each month).
I often suggest to new "free agents" to find a public place – one that invites conversations – and visit there two or three times each week to work and network.
Even if you're new in town or you're not accustomed to starting conversations, by visiting the establishment a few days (try to find a consistent time frame), you'll become familiar with the regulars — and you may even make a business connection (or 12).
I'm not against Libraries – in fact, I love – love – love libraries. I get my best work done in them. I work in peace and focus, and if I lose that focus, I "walk the stacks." But it's a difficult place to make connection and conversation ("ssshhh")
Many libraries have Coffee Shops right there (so there ya go). But get out of the house. Be on display. Make yourself findable and available. You'll find that your business improves and your work gets done.
Traffic to this site is growing. Is it an increase of blog post writing, or something else?
I am aware that the traffic increases to this site coincide with an increase of my own blog posting rhythm. Hopefully, these postings are valuable to the readers here (and may be part of the reason for traffic increases).
But there is something else I am doing, too. It's the engagement level, and specifically – commenting on other sites and sharing more resources on Social Networks.
For several months, lack of time management was my downfall on commenting elsewhere. I felt that by sharing a link on Twitter or Facebook, I was giving enough reward – a pat on the back, of sorts – to the author. But that wasn't engagment.
I would consume a great deal of content, share some outward, but rarely took the time to digest and engage. For the last several weeks, I've once again, become habitual in commenting on other sites (I try for 3-5 per day, on at least 10 different sites per week).
And selfishly, engaging does two things for me:
I know (and own) what I know when I actually articulate it. Commenting elsewhere helps hone my thoughts into usable ideas or actions.
By commenting elsehwere, my thoughts reach audiences I normally wouldn't be in front of. If my comment adds value to the conversation, engagement lasts longer and across various sites.
Okay, three things – there is this thing in human nature of reciprocity. You buy me a cup of coffee, I immediately think of ways to reciprocate. You too?
Unselfishly, I'm able to give two things to the community and other writers/readers:
Attention. If I click through my RSS aggregator to their site, I'm re-reading the post AND reading the comments (there are lots of smart comments – sometimes better than the post itself).
Acknowledgment. By engaging, I am showing them how I value their voice, how I appreciate the ability and freedom to take part in their conversation.
Okay, three things – there is this thing in huma….yep – reciprocity again. Though often, I am thanking others for partaking in conversations I might have ignited or carried outward.
A lot of this thinking comes from a few posts (and their comments) I've been reading lately, including:
A few days ago, I confessed how I have a few customers "calling in" their blog posts using Google Voice. The combination of transcription and audio file has made it quite easy for some busy business owners to "blog" as we can still capture tone and inflection with the audio. We just clean up the text, add a few links and an image.
After talking with my buddy, Mike Wagner, I'm going to experiment again with Google Voice. This time, mashup up this site as part blog & comments, part guest post, part call-in show.
Each week, I'll pose a question here. If you want to take part, just call in your answer to my G-Voice # at
This week's question:
What is the most close-knit "offline" community you participate in and what makes it so close-knit?
I'll post your answers mid-week here. When you call in, there's a few things to consider:
I'd like to post both text AND audio. Let me know when you call if you want just the text posted.
You only have 3 minutes to leave your message
Let me know which site to link to on your comment (website, twitter, facebook…something of yours)
We'll close up the call-in submission Wednesdays, Midnight Pacific.
First, I'll say "blogging" is still the foundation of your content and a deep part of your conversation – the trunk of your social media tree.
I've worked with those that blog now and again, here and there. They are disappointed in the return (but look at the lack of deposit). So they take to the quick and twitter or facebook instead. Instant gratification.
When these folks begin to produce content and conversational points a bit deeper and more frequently on their blog site, they see better findability, more focused daily interaction offline, and even better bottom-line results. But it's work.
Second, allow me to be bold and say commenting on blogs is highly overrated as a means of success measurement. I want them, everyone wants them. They're great. But I would rather find:
Readers extending the conversation on your blog and linking back to the original post, or
Sharing a link on Twitter or Facebook with your two-bits added
And hey, I'm all for Twitter and Facebook… and Slideshare and Flickr and Foursquare too. They are fruits of the Social Media tree, extra rooms in our Social Media storehouse. We can really branch out and connect from those places. We can throw rice against a wall and see what sticks. Brainstorm. Even improve our findability.
But the foundation of what we do and think, what we believe, and the most important inventory we have online is that space we call "blog" and the content or conversations that live and endure there.
Am I saying that folks who Twitter and Facebook in a business sense without blogging are lazy? No (Yes), I'm not saying that at all (sure you are). Not really (yes, really – you are). But as seasons change and FBML's go by the way, you'll wish you had stronger roots.
I do agree much of the exchange, the back-and-forth conversation, may now happenelsewhere. But don't use that as a signal that blogging has died or is a waste of time.
Blogging is still very much an important item in your toolbox.