Posts Tagged ‘William Azaroff’

Look who’s talking about YOU!

June 14, 2010

I’ve had the great pleasure of presenting this social media topic (or online community communication is perhaps a better term): Look who’s talking about you. I was first invited to give this presentation by Jodi Torres (Thanks Jodi!) of CU Tech group for her organization’s Spring Consortium in Boston. I also presented this information to the Northeast Harland’s User Group in Portsmouth NH (Thanks Andrea!), and will give a webinar on it for EverythingCU.com this Thursday, June 17, as well.

This information is based on my own online experiences, and also draws heavily on groundbreaking work done by William Azaroff way back in the dark ages of social media (approx 2006-07 AD). Way back then, blogging was still the primary connection media, meaning Facebook and Twitter had not yet exploded in popularity. I’ve also drawn on the experience of various PR professionals in how to handle critiques (and worse) of your organization online or offline.

Here is a list of resources for further exploration on the topic, as well as links to first-hand information I covered in the presentation:

WILLIAM AZAROFF, Monitoring your brand health
WILLIAM AZAROFF, Responding to bloggers
DREW McLELLAN, 6 Steps to take if your company is criticized in a blog post
JOHN SOAT, Reputations at risk
MORRISS PARTEE, Motrin gives itself a migraine
CHRIS LOCKE et al, The Cluetrain Manifesto
RYAN UNDERWOOD, Tell us what you really think
LESLEY LAMBERT, BofA is on Twitter for the win
STEFAN BETZOLD, SM Monitoring Tools-an overview
DAN SCHAWBEL, Top 10 reputation tracking tools
DARREN BAREFOOT, I wanted to love Vancity, but now I loathe them
CULLEN WATERS, Vystar CU – Worst bank ever
JEFFRY PILCHER, Fighting axe grinders and their online vendettas

Interviewed by Christophe Langlois

October 14, 2009

HUGE thank you to Christophe Langlois of Visible Banking for interviewing me about EverythingCU and social media for credit unions while we were at Finovate NYC 09! Mentioned in this video include: William Azaroff, Tim McAlpine, Ginny Brady, my girlfriend (Lesley Lambert), and Cammie Morrow. Tim, Cammie, William and Christophe commented on the Facebook version of this video.


Everything CU – Finovate09: Morriss Partee. Founder
Uploaded by ChristopheLanglois. – Explore international webcam videos.

Confessions of a reformed wallflower

April 8, 2009

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. Those of you who have met me in person would probably not believe it, but it’s true.

When I met William Azaroff of Vancouver in Manchester, NH a couple of weeks ago to tour America’s CU Museum, and then later that same night went out for dinner and drinks with Matt Davis of North Carolina and Ron Shevlin in North Reading, MA, we discussed that one of the criticisms leveled at us “social media” types who attended and presented at the 2008 Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis was that we didn’t mingle with others. I hadn’t consciously realized that, but looking back, it was true. And I am sad about that.

And though there is no excuse for that, there is a reason for it, and l will explain and tie paragraph one to paragraph two. It’s human nature to greet friends warmly, and not to walk up to strangers to introduce yourself. I try to greet people at most opportunities, and say hi to those I pass in a hallway. When given a choice between giving a handshake or a hug to an old friend, and introducing yourself to a stranger, it’s human nature to greet a friend first, because that’s much easier.

And that’s the amazing thing about social media and social networking. Sometimes you give an especially hearty greeting to someone you are meeting in person for the first time if you have already gotten to know that person online. Because, as Ron Shevlin has pointed out, you can get to know, online, a person who lives 3,000 miles away better than your colleague down the hallway who isn’t online in any meaningful way. When you get together, you already “know” that person. Especially given the conversational nature of twitter, you probably know more than you ever wanted to know about them on a personal basis. When you meet, you don’t need to use small talk to find common interests, you just naturally pick up the conversation that you’ve already been having online, and will continue online later.

I remember my first PodCamp Boston experience; it was the second of the PodCamps that they have held. I missed the first day entirely, but arrived in time to catch the tail end of the official evening party. I met a couple of folks who I had connected with online previously, but felt very much the outsider. It seemed like everyone else already knew each other. Undaunted, I continued to meet people throughout the second day and learn more about what this social media thing was all about.

And so I write this blog post to encourage everyone who is a.) relatively new to social media, b.) naturally shy, or c.) both, to put aside that shyness and to do your best to overcome that feeling of being a social media “outsider” when you come upon a group of social media people hanging out with each other, such as that which occurred just two weekends ago at PodCamp WesternMass. Bear in mind that most people involved in the online social world are exactly that: fairly social. Please understand that although it’s human nature to hang out with friends that you already know, most of us involved in the field really WANT to meet new people. Sometimes we just need a nudge of encouragement.

Remember that everyone in the world of social media was an outsider at first. If you introduce yourself, the folks worth talking to will be more than glad to have met you.

Some D&B love from TJ McCue

November 7, 2008

I was introduced to TJ McCue through a referral from William Azaroff. TJ is an awesome, sharp, well-connected professional, and it was my pleasure to meet him for coffee in his home area of the Olympic Peninsula outside Seattle, on the way to BarCampBankBC. TJ now writes for Dun & Bradstreet’s AllBusiness blog, and was kind enough to do a write-up about our online switch kit yesterday.

Earlier this summer, Dan Reynolds, our Switch Kit Coordinator, conducted a webinar explaining what the EverythingCU Online Switch Kit is all about, as well as our latest innovations with it. I’ve converted that webinar into a SlideShare with audio which you can view below. Running time is approximately 49 minutes (about 25 minutes of presentation, followed by about 24 minutes of Q&A). If you don’t have that kind of time, fortunately we have a text FAQ located here.

Our Online Switch Kit came about as the direct result of attending our first-ever CU conference, which was the 2002 CUES Marketing conference in Seattle. The VP of Marketing for Pinellas County FCU (now Achieva) demonstrated her paper-based switch kit to a standing-room only audience during a breakout session. We knew that we’d have a hit on our hands if we developed a way of simplifying the process of filling out a member’s name over and over again, online. So we built the product in 2003, and now have more than 170 credit unions using it.

Part of the reason TJ wrote up our case study is that he understands how much power there is in developing a targeted product to a specific niche audience. Here are my takeaways from this journey (which you can apply to your own business):

  • Decide on your niche, and get to know as much possible about it, especially the the people and happenings therein
  • Go out and meet them where they are (in this case, their conferences, but it can also be their place of work, or where they live or socialize)
  • Pay close attention to their needs and what resonates with them
  • Figure out how you can help make their own lives (or their customers’ lives, if it’s B-to-B), easier. If they don’t even know they have a problem or pain-point yet, so much the better.
  • Create the product that solves or eases this problem or pain-point.
  • When you do all of these things, word will spread amongst that community.

Thanks, TJ, for a stellar write-up of the product!

Do we have room for 6 billion rock stars?

October 29, 2008

What if you were to combine the best networking and social aspects of Facebook and Crowdvine? I wasn’t aware of Crowdvine until someone added it to the wiki for BarCampBankSF. It first I was skeptical of YAFSNW* (*Yet Another Freaking Social Networking Website). But after diving in, I saw that it does certain things well, and does serve a specific purpose, though there is definitely room for improvement. Crowdvine’s purpose is to enable connections to happen, before, during, and after, a specific event, and even facilitate virtual connections with people unable to attend the event in-person.

As example, say you are in a new industry and you are attending a conference in another state. You’ve heard about some of the innovators in the field who are going to be at the conference. But you also know there are going to be hundreds of people there who you’ve never heard of before, and want to meet many of them to start developing your personal network. Crowdvine lets you see who is coming to the event ahead of time, and lets you designate that you are a fan of someone, and also that you want to meet someone. Because of the personal items that you can import into Crowdvine (your blog, twitter stream, and flickr photos), you can really get a good sense of what a person is all about via that source. This is very different from a friend on Facebook, where you can’t get any info on the person until AFTER you’ve agreed to be friends with him/her, and rightly so because it is of a personal rather than professional nature. Crowdvine is all about making connections that happen because of an event in common. And it’s pretty good at what it does; it really is an icebreaker to have heard of, and/or seen a photo of, a person who is going to an event that you are attending. 

So this leads to the following questions: What does it mean to be a friend of someone? A fan of someone? If you befriend a rock star, is that the same relationship that you have with your other friends? Of course, this train of thought wouldn’t be complete without saying that either a.) there are no rock stars, we all put our pants on, one leg at a time, or b.) we are all rock stars, everyone on the planet is important. (At least to their mothers.) But the reality is somewhere in between; that we all choose who we want to look up to and admire, and the degree to which we do that is different for any given person and relationship. For some people, there are no rock stars, for others there are many rock stars, of varying degrees of brightness.

So can you be a friend of, and a fan of someone at the same time? I feel privileged to be friends with social media rock star Chris Brogan, as well as credit union marketing rock stars William Azaroff, Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen (and many others!). In Crowdvine, I would totally mark that I am a fan of theirs. In Facebook, I have befriended them. There are other people who I am a fan of, but don’t really want to have that same “friend” relationship as it is implied in Facebook. But what about your “ordinary” friends? What if you are a personal friend of someone, but not a fan of them? (You know what relationship I’m talking about, it’s the one with your buddy who calls you at 2 am needing a place to crash for the night. Again.) Would they be insulted if they knew that that was how you felt about them? Or would they be ‘big’ enough to appreciate the honesty? Questions to explore in this brave new internetworked world.

On a related note, Chris Messina has written an in-depth report on the state of OpenID. If you are interested in the evolution of your identity on the web, and how that works across the slate of different social networking sites, this is recommended reading. Which brings up the next question, do credit unions have a role to play in web identity and OpenID? Do credit unions have an expertise or credibility which can be brought to bear here? Or, should the OpenID/online social identity be kept completely separate from the monetary (credit/debit cards, ACH etc) systems network? Is PayPal already the intersection between the two? What are the benefits and drawbacks from having these as a single network versus separate networks?

Amazingly enough, I am agog as social media rock star Chris Brogan DM’d me on twitter while I was writing this. Rock on, Chris!

William Azaroff is Changing Everything

October 2, 2008

CU SymposiumLive blogging of William’s talk to the Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis.

[Brent Dixon recorded this session on video here.]

In Canada, we do things a little bit differently.

33% of Canadians view the environment and global warming as the most important issues affecting the world today.

Vancity members represent 5% of discretionary spending in BC.

Vancity has a role to play in the social economy, and has a chance to influence.

Approx. 30% of not-for profits in their region bank with Vancity CU. (We have opportunity to do more with this.)

Dark green consumer segment – 16% of their member base

Dark green is a psychographic segment. William feels there is opportunity that 30-40% dark green members make up Vancity.

Vancity used to do generic advertising and branding. Rebranded effort shows their personality/values, uses humor.

Billboard with solar panels – dark green consumers get it.

High interest savings account – part of it funds a scholarship that gives 200% to very low income people. Message to world – the account that helps fight poverty.

Magnet Marketing – put a stake in the ground with who they are. If you’re not comfortable with that, you are welcome to leave.

Change Everything – online community to engender change, personal and social, in Vancouver and BC

Has become a resource for people who want to live more sustainably.

Message: no reason why a car loan can’t change more than just your car

Snow storm hit Vancouver in Nov 2006: People organized to help the homeless through the Change Everything blog. Press loved it; big earned media. Heartfelt testimonials poured in.

Bike share program: Take it, ride it, pass it on. People kept honest via online community. Front page of Vancouver Sun (which you can not buy.) Huge PR event.

Results: 125 people per day; 1200 visits per day
Registrations: 162% increase
media value: $50k+ (which is half of the original cost of program)

bike share:
registrations: 7/day; 95 day
media value: $175k+
ROI: 300%
bikes returned (and donated) 28 out of 45

Vancity CU: 2nd most trusted business operating in Vancouver.

Number one trusted financial institution.

Q&A with Ron:
What are internal discussions like? marketing? senior management?
A: Willingness to try new things. There isn’t always time to try new things. How do we balance trying new things vs. doing what works.

At senior management, no one is questioning this brand positioning, have been through that. Crystalizing what they can do, and be strategic focused, biggest impact. Debates about where is the focus, how to focus. Prioritization, being disciplined.

Q: Top priorities for next 12-18 months?
A: 1.) Internal- intranet development. Get info to the employees when they need it. 2) Online banking development to catch up and also lead. 3.) Other opportunities in social media to help business; help members connect to staff and other members

Q: do you manage and create a social media strategy?
A: Board just had a retreat in rundown area (not fancy place)- went straight to heart of what ails Vancouver. They are coming out with: What is Vancity in 10 years? Line up social media strategy with organization goals. So that William’s group is not isolated.

Social media strategy comes from organizational strategy.

Q: Now values are coming into Vancity’s product. How does social media strategy fit?
A: Differentiation. Product starts with being competitive. How do we make it our own? But then social aspect fits in addition. Likelihood to try measure is very very high. Members get to say where the charitable part goes to.

Q: Measure customer engagement?
A: Need to get better here. Newly formed group from several different departments. Critical to work on this. We know how to measure traditional marketing. Need to work on definition to get on same page.

Q: from audience: attaching to existing social initiatives in community?
A: Vancity was already partners with them, but just didn’t know it. Couldn’t have done BikeShare if not partnered with 4 local orgs that dovetailed. Partner with lots of folks now.

Q: from Ginny: Vancity has a vision. If members don’t share it, too bad for them. What about employees and board members in regards to this? Hiring/recruiting process?
A: Board members: definitely. 22 people ran for 9 slots. Because org is really making change, people want to be a part of that. Members really want Vancity to do even more for environment and poverty. Employees: looking for those whose values resonate with Vancity. HR understands our values.

Q: (From Jeff Stephens) Did Ron really invent the term Magnet Marketing?
A: Yes, he was referring to refrigerator magnets.

Q: If you went to another CU? How/where would you start?
A: Won’t go anywhere else. He realizes that at Vancity, he has become a values snob. He would have a tough time working somewhere where values weren’t the driver of the organization. There must be commitment from the top, that William could help bring it to life, in a way that is measured in his performance plan. Has to come from the top down, starts with CEO and board, and be organization wide.

Notes from Social Banking session at BCBBC

September 25, 2008

BCBBC08Had an amazing time connecting with some great people at BarCampBank BC. Here are my notes from the first session on Day Two, Sunday, on the social nature of the banking relationship. For notes from other sessions, see William Azaroff’s live blog series, which starts here and the Camp’s wiki page, which includes links to some video recordings.

How do you allow front line people time to socialize and do internal networking?
Answer from Gene Blishen: Listen to them, ask what is mundane, routine, that they hate, and figure out how to automate that.

Employer has to create an environment to allow this to happen. Have to be brave, to create this. create systems that empower employees.

Indecison= decision — wastes time and effort.

Internal social network

Have to have people who are excited to be where they are and tell their friends about it
otherwise, same as traditional marketing, which is pushing things out.

How do we change the conversation to be about social media relationship building and not so much ROA, or else how do we measure ROI of social?

Bank willing to lend to an entrepreneur with more social connections

Facebook as collections tool

Head of the comma: REI model — even though most don’t go into wilderness, REI needs to appeal/work for that group because the rest aspire to that.

Social Media Marketing Best Practice: Use multiple media

September 9, 2008

Continuing Mitch Joel’s excellent suggestion to write about social media marketing best practices, today’s post is about the differences in media.

The social media universe now includes many, many types of web sites and media. It’s not just about blogging. Social media includes podcasting, videocasting, networking, photo sharing, instant messaging, and texting. And importantly, it includes dialog in all of these media.

Blogging still figures importantly for a variety of reasons. The written word can be powerful, and importantly, most people can respond and give feedback via a blog, which is not as true for other media. Also, reading the written word is much faster for most people than listening to a podcast or watching a videocast of the same information.

There are some people who are tied to the blogging and the written word. While there may be valid reasons for blogging, a social media marketing campaign will have greater reach and participation if other media are also incorporated. Just as some people prefer to create in a certain media, (written word, audiocast, videocast), people also prefer to “consume” in certain media. And many people consume different media depending on the situation. Some people access the internet in the evenings at home, and enjoy watching video clips. Others like to listen to information on their commute, so prefer audio versions. Yet other folks scan the internet while at work and want information in written form so that they can read and digest the information they are seeking quickly.

Once you have developed your core message, adapt it to the nuances of each of these very different presentation media. Written word, video, and audio media are all different, and each should be utilized properly. After all, we wouldn’t use a TV ads’ audio for a radio commercial– a radio commercial needs to be created knowing that there are no visuals to go with the audio.

For those discovering this meme, and want to learn more, here are other outstanding contributions:

I have been remiss in tagging others to add to this meme. I tag William Azaroff, Aaron Strout, Tim McAlpine, and Trey Reeme.

Rev up your Twitter bio; Twellow is here

June 30, 2008

Twello.comI learned today, from a Facebook group about Twitter, of a site launched on June 24, 2008, called Twellow. Twellow is named for “Twitter Yellow Pages.” It’s a searchable directory of Twitterers, aka Twits, aka people who use Twitter.

I was interested in this new web site because just recently someone said that a twitterer version of Alltop.com ought to be created. Lo and behold, a few days later, here it is in the form of Twellow. I scanned the main categories and they looked like a typical yellow pages. There was no category on the home page for ‘finance’, and none for ‘social media.’ So I really didn’t give it a second thought. However, some of my twitter friends (CUWarrior and Christopher Stevenson) were more thoughtful, and plugged ‘credit union’ into the search field to see the results. The results showed 15 credit union twitterers. By default, people are shown in descending order by the number of followers. At the time of this writing, the Top 10 results were: @CUWarrior, @TonyMannor, @weatherchaos, @RobWright, @CreativeBrand, @Clint_Williams, @mfagala, @markiev33, @Kent_CULifer, and @BenJoeM.

I took at look at who was being listed, and have deduced some of the ways in which the site works to list people.

Up until now, the only real purpose of your Twitter bio (limited to 160 characters), was to be interesting. If someone was interested in being your Twitter friend, their decision might be influenced by your bio. But if Twellow takes off in popularity (Mashable calls Twellow the people directory that Twitter itself ought to have built. Review hat tip: Ginny Brady), then your Twitter bio becomes much more important.

Twellow uses your twitter bio to categorize you.

Suddenly a creative bio is much less attractive than a straightforward bio if you are interested in being listed “well” in this directory. Each of the 15 people on the search results for ‘credit union’ had (surprise, surprise) the word “credit union” in their bio. This prompted Tim McAlpine to question why he wasn’t on the list. The answer is that right now Twellow is DUMB when it comes to singular vs. plural. Searching for “credit unions” yields a different list of five people than “credit union”, and includes Tim. We’ll see how long Twellow remains “dumb” in this way.

One last point about how Twellow categorizes people: Twellow has an algorithm that puts you into certain categories based on the keywords in your twitter bio. This is different than the simple and straightforward search (i.e. searching “credit union” yields the results of those who have “credit union” in their bio.) Keywords have been sorted, so that the word “CEO” in your bio puts you into three categories: Management, Management -> Executives, and Management -> Executives -> CEOs. Check out the categories that other people have been put in, and examine their bios to deduce what keywords have put them there.

I have updated my twitter bio armed with this new information. I am wondering how long it will take for Twellow to re-index me. I’m guessing I’ll be waiting for a re-index longer than it takes the Twellow programmers to get “smart” about singulars vs. plurals.

***Update 11:50 pm***
@William Azaroff cracked the code after reading this post, of how to get Twellow to re-index you after you change your Twitter bio. Once you’ve changed your Twitter bio, go to the Twellow page Get Listed, and submit your twitter username. Twellow will give you an error message, saying that the name is already indexed. However, within a couple of minutes, Twellow will re-index your profile and get the latest information available from twitter, including latest tweet and bio. Within five minutes, your changed bio will be reflected in Twellow’s search results. Feel free to mix, experiment and optimize how you want to be found on Twellow.

Interviewed by Mr. McAlpine

June 18, 2008

Credit union innovator Tim McAlpine, President of Currency Marketing, conducted an interview with me a couple of weeks ago, and he’s uploaded it here on his blog. Tim asked me some really terrific questions that I enjoyed answering.

Shortly after completing the interview, I turned the tables and interviewed Tim. I very much look forward to hearing that as soon as Tim has a chance to edit and upload his own.

Tim also has another audio clip the includes part of a presentation that I gave at CUES Experience in Minneapolis. This 14-minute audio clip also includes Arkadi Kuhlmann of ING Direct, Ron Shevlin of Aite Group, William Azaroff of Vancity CU, Tim McAlpine, and Steve Williams of Cornerstone Advisors. Tim recorded this in-person, and the audio is nice and clear.

P.S. YES! The Celtics win NBA Championship number 17! It’s been a twenty-two year wait for me since I watched them win number 16.


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