Scare Tactics?

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutesWhen was the last time you actually read one of those “Terms and Conditions” or “Agreement” forms that pops up as a temporary yield sign on your way to getting what you want? Almost everyone blindly clicks “accept” to avoid the hassle of reading the mumbo-jumbo; yet the very legal content often tells you that what you’re agreeing to is the sharing, selling or usage of your information. We all know this (or at least choose to ignore it), and click merrily on, glad to breeze past the nuisance that’s preventing our immediate satisfaction. “Our private information is only as private as our level of inconvenience.” – Anthony Coppedge Most of us readily give away vast amounts of personalized information by signing up for giveaways, contests or linking apps, games and other tools to online social media accounts. When we want something or deem something to be worth giving access, the risk is that bits and parts of our information are subject to being traded, sold or abused. We know all of this, so imagine my surprise at Microsoft’s new “Scroogled” (you’re ‘screwed’ by Google) ad campaign, which uses scare tactics to point out that Google’s email program (Gmail) uses information in your emails and from your online browsing to target ads at you. Are we supposed to be shocked that targeted advertising uses information we gladly (or at least impatiently) gave away? Microsoft is trying hard to make Bing, their competing search engine, play catch-up with the Google search juggernaut. But resorting to scare tactics? It seems a desperate move. Here’s the question for...

The Good Nor Bad of Social Media

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutesSocial media continues to rocket upwards in usage worldwide, and yet there are still some who view social media with a wary eye. I think the reticence is due to some people using social media badly. No, that’s not quite right. There are those who don’t like how others use social media, so they define social media as the problem. There’s no question that there are masses of people and organizations using social media in self-serving, even narcissistic ways. But that doesn’t make social media the culprit; people behaving badly is not new to society. And yet social media is not neutral. It doesn’t simply “exist”; it is very much like the water of the oceans, moving based on currents (current events), tides (when people use it) and storms (trending topics). The forces are real, not neutral, and the power is immense. Perhaps the easiest way to visualize the power (neither good nor bad) of social media is to look at the classic rock band amplifier (see picture). Each amplifier represents one person reaching those within their sphere of influence. As some of those people join in the chorus, their amplification spreads to their sphere of influence, exponentially covering a much larger group of people. From time to time and with the right current of topics, certain social media elements gain huge audiences and a few even go “viral”, spreading across the social media ether like a wall of sound. What gets amplified is going to sound pleasing to some and horribly irritating to others, just as differing music tastes respond differently to a rock amplifier.  It’s not the...

Chick-Fil-A: The Day After Statement

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutesAugust 1st saw the social media channels alight with millions of tweets, status updates, Twitpics and Instagram collages of Chick-Fil-A stores bursting at the seams with people streaming out of the buildings or waiting in traffic-stopping lines on side streets. The numbers are still coming in, but it seems likely that today, August 1st – declared Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day by Mike Huckabee – will be a record-breaking day for the Georgia-based company. After coming under fire for asserting the privately-owned family chain’s values on supporting the Biblical definition of marriage, millions rallied to support the chain in a show of solidarity for free speech protection. Since Chick-Fil-A didn’t seek this kind of public support, I believe they are poised to make even bigger news on August 2nd: give it all away. The private business doesn’t “owe” the millions of supporters who patronized their establishment anything; after all, they were simply the recipient of a show of support. But the company stands to gain even more than the financial windfall of Wednesday’s massive business boost – they can make a bigger statement with the days’ extraordinary revenue. Chick-Fil-A has every right to say a hearty “thank you” to the millions of supporters and add the earned profits of a tremendous day. I wouldn’t suggest it’s not theirs to keep since it was earned through a free market system. However, to help take even more wind out of critics sails, Chick-Fil-A could make an even louder statement than the August 1st crowds. I have a few suggestions: 1) Give all of the revenue for the day away...

Communicating Information vs. Building Community

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutesI’ve noticed a trend in typical church communications: they tell info, but don’t add a lot of value. Even in a relatively small church, multiple ministries are all vying to get the attention of their volunteers and attenders. They all have something to say and usually have a need which either requires volunteers to fill or people to attend. In both cases, it’s the church that’s trying to leverage communications to create an awareness and, usually, a call-to-action response. Whether it’s print, web, verbal, video or audio, there’s a question that needs to be asked before the communication is sent: Do your church’s communications give info or build community? Using the questions “Who?, What?, When?, Where?” we often cover the details sufficiently but sometimes fail to associate value with the information. Asking me to serve during an upcoming church festival? That’s OK. Telling me that by serving ,”x” people will be reached and/or briefly describe the expectations for my volunteer role? That’s much better! When possible, we need to ask two more questions: “Why?” and “How?” “Why is this important to our church?” “How will this impact our community?” We should be creating communication that is A) consistent between mediums; and B) is spread across mediums (verbal, print, web, email, Facebook, Twitter, video, mail, etc.) In doing so, we will help people remember to invite others and/or remember to serve. Beyond sharing the basic information, our church communications should create an opportunity for conversation. Instead of telling me about something, ask me to provide input or help spread the news. Instead of merely pushing information...

Finding Signal in the Noise

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minuteI recently heard the phrase “finding signal in the noise”. I don’t recall where I heard it, but it stuck with me because in a day and time when we have massive amounts of information assaulting us 24/7, finding the stuff that matters is becoming increasingly difficult. For example, searching (or “Google-ing”) has become the automatic response when we need to find information. Yet my experience has been that finding specific information on Google can be difficult if I don’t know the exact search words to narrow down the results. Therefore, I’ve started asking specific questions to my community on Twitter and Facebook. More often than not I’ll receive the exact answer I needed in a matter of minutes from people responding on Twitter. Compared to searching through 482,931 results, I’ll take the accurate answer from people I know before searching in vain. That’s finding signal in the noise. The “noise” can be anything that’s overwhelming or poorly organized. Whether it’s e-newsletters, e-blasts, websites, blogs, videos or anything else we use to communicate with others, as communicators we’ve got to help simplify and qualify the information and decrease the signal-to-noise ratio. Review the mediums and methods you use to communicate. Look at your website. Check out your e-newsletter. Review your announcement slides & videos. Evaluate your group e-mail blasts. How much of it would benefit from “less is more”? What are you going to do about it? Here’s a satirical (but honest) look at why Apple & Google continue to understand this concept:...

Capturing Culture

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutesWhen Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPod almost 8 years ago, the product embodied far more than an elegant design, cool features and some great benefits: it personified the culture of Apple. As he gave his Keynote speech in 2001 at the Apple developer conference, Jobs’ explained that the decision to build the iPod was because “music is a part of everyone’s life”. He then spent the next two and a half minutes extolling the virtues of music, how people feel about music and their experience with music. Apple understands UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface). They infuse their products with the innovative, fun environment that exists in their corporate culture. At Fellowship Technologies, the culture is also a big part of what we believe, what we create and how we work. Since taking on the role of leading the Communications for the company, I’ve been impressed with and infused into the culture. So, when it was time to promote a huge re-design on the interface and experience of using our web-enabled church management software, Fellowship One, I wanted to capture some of this culture, specifically focusing on the software development team. We captured the video on the new Canon 5D Mark II camera, with a variety of lenses, which I shot in full 1080i HD. I’m thankful that Kevin Dooley, a video director at a local church, was able to handle the role of DP for the shoot as we followed our storyboard and script of capturing the culture here at Fellowship Technologies. Here’s the satirical video we created: Culture matters. For churches,...