Archive - September, 2009

Give a book away

A few days ago Kevin Miller caught my attention. He posted a message to Chris Brogan on twitter asking where he could get a deal on a box of 20 of Chris’s latest book, Trust Agents. He wanted to send them to a few friends. I can only imagine what will come of Kevin Miller’s gifts.

A guide rather than an expert: navigating social media

The world is beginning to fill with self proclaimed social media experts and Trust Agents (even though Chris Brogan and Julien Smith warn against calling yourself such things).  These people can not possibly be experts.  We are all learning in this space. Yes, some have a true uncanny ability to connect and build communities.

An expert though, by definition, is someone who knows everything about a subject.  Social Media is such a new frontier that there really is no way that someone could honestly claim to fully understand it. It is constantly changing, and rules of the game are continually being remade and broken.

Like climbing guides, a good consultant is someone who has survived a few impressive journeys and now wants to offer help to others.  And like a guide, they usually fail when they become too cocky.  When I was growing up, my dad would tell me stories of pilots who died because they were too confident.  The good ones are always learning, always correcting and experimenting.

Recently I was watching an episode of Globe Trekker.  Adventure diva Holly Morris had chosen to attempt a personal life goal of climbing the Matterhorn. She could have tried the climb alone with some chance of success.  She chose wisely though to use a trusted Mt. Guide, Ricky Andenmatten.  Her guide is what caught my attention.  He was humble, kind, and most of all knowledgeable.  He also offered a sense of safety and confidence to his client.

Guides are simply people who have gone before us.  They come back from the journey and offer us the chance to succeed where we might have failed. They also offer tips for avoiding some of the least obvious pitfalls, as well as nuggets we might miss if trekking through the web on our own.

Guides can range from seasoned veterans to those just starting out.  Right now we have a new frontier still being explored.  Some of us have been to the far reaches and are now offering our help to others. Others are just starting out.  If you have survived, offer what you found, but please leave the expert out of your title.  Let others call you an expert, trust agent, or guru.

*Matterhorn image used under the flckr creative commons nordique

Why Ning, Why Now

A few weeks ago my friend @loyan asked me to post on why I promote the Ning community tool.  I have been using Ning.com for a couple of years now as a community proponent and connector to help individuals, organizations and companies gather their tribe and give them the tools to build networks.

facesOver the years we have all seen situations that call for communication and connectivity within a group.  Whether you went to a conference or needed information on a special interest, you probably have had the opportunity to join a web forum.  These sites worked great for simple idea sharing, but they were very limited in scope and usability.  It was difficult to post a video, and your information page was limited to a few links to your webpage and text.  Also, on forums there is a tendency for individuals to hide behind avatars and screen names, taking away from transparency and authentic community participation.

So why do I use Ning? Here are a few of the reasons:

Great tools for admins and members:ning

Along came the Ning platform.  With Ning a site administrator/leader can easily give their tribe all the tools that they need to build a thriving community.  Ning has integrated video, WUSIWYG (what you see is what you get), chat rooms, extensive profile page customization and tools, as well as ways for groups to form within the site.

Promoting new sites:

When you create a community site, Ning keeps a badge at the bottom showing the site creator’s picture, and a link encourages others to create their own communities.  There have been cases where clients have asked if we should remove the link.  My answer is no.  Keep that control in the hands of those in the community.  Building your own simple site is simple and fast.  If you need to take it to a higher level you can come to us.

Website integration:

Ning has built their platform in a way that allows communities to build their site with the built in features using the Ning provided skins.  Users can go a few steps further by tweaking the css code, paying premium services to remove ads, and linking to a designated domain. Ning has also allowed advanced editing and programming access to firms like us.  We are able to take a client’s Ning site and fully integrate it into their current website.

Ning just keeps getting better every day with new features.  Just this week they released an app that allows for event registration within a community site. Check Ning out for yourself and give your tribe a place to connect, share, and grow.

I am curious about your reasons for using Ning.  Please feel free to add them as comments.