Key Advice Blog

Posts Tagged ‘communications

Plain language and social media may appear to have a lot in common. They promote conciseness, usability and targeting messages to your audiences. But is there more than just a communications bond between them?

Plain Language spent the early part of this century doing what it did best – print content. But, the movement is gaining momentum when it comes to content we put on websites, in blogs, and on social media platforms. CommonCraft’s Social Media in Plain Language videos have shown great SEO and popularity – although they could benefit from an updated sequel version. However, while many of us continue to use print to get our plain language message across – the power of video (done well) and other social media platforms can’t be ignored.

Emerging Technologies Librarian is just one site blogging about the new Plain Language Medical iPhone App. It takes medical terms and translates them into plain language at the click of a button. This demonstrates how the power of plain language and social media can really have a cultural impact on critical communications. How long before other sectors follow?

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for achieving a stronger connection is the bad publicity plain language government plans get – promising plain language, but not delivering. Social Media Strategery blogger Steve Raddick, gives a history of US government attempts to get beyond stage one. City of Calgary Alderwoman Druh Farrell has council support for reviving their earlier plain language commitment, which Literacy Alberta executive director Janet Lane whole-heartedly supported via their Facebook Page.  The movement may seem slow, but once it gets to the next stage, it will be brilliant.

The power is in the synergy of the two: using plain language on social media platforms and social media platforms to promote plain language. Both will help us move both to ‘higher ground’.

Check Out: International Plain Language Day plans on Facebook.

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Having relocated from the UK to Canada I find I am using Skype and FaceTime about 3 times as much as my landline for personal calls. But, what are businesses using? And, why aren’t they using visual conference calling more? This branch of the social media tree is powerful, persuasive and cost saving – with many of the options free.

Mashable profiles all four, recognizing freeconferencecalling.com as a starting point.

Then they analyze Rondee, Wiggio, GroupMe and Google Voice. They all have outstanding characteristics: Rondee, easy meeting coordination; Wiggio, other group management services; GroupMe; the quintessential mobile group meeting App; and Google Vocie, people simply call your contact number at the same time and you approve.

This technology has come a long way, and it is quite surprising that many people – who also complain about the travel time and expense – are still driving, flying, riding to meetings that could be just as effective in a virtual environment. And, reduce the carbon footprint and costs substantially.

Today is World Usability Day and this year’s theme is communication. In the spirit of that, let’s all think, talk, write, blog, tweet, post in Plain Language.

Using clear communications is a key component of communications strategy. It can help your business stand out from – above – the rest. Plain Language is proven to help reduce situations – repeated errors, questions or production – that can be costly. Plain Language in Plain English, part of the Wizardry Series, gives examples of this.

Organisations are celebration WUD all over the world with events – virtual and live. User Vision, whose website holds this quote:

‘The cost of a complete site overhaul is roughly thirty times that of incorporating usability testing early on.’ Forrester Research Group, Why most web sites fail, 2006.

, are holding a session on usability in modern-day communications.

In Oslo, Norway, The Norwegian Design Council is hosting an online event exploring usability in web design showing the film Innovation for All.

There’s something for everyone – all around the globe from New York to  South Africa to Tokyo. What will you be doing? Post your feedback, link or ideas in Comment.

Twitter.com/wud_2010

Summer is networking season. Yes, many people are on holidays, but not everyone. Marketing is something that needs to happen everyday when you are in business. So how do you get the most of your networking in the season of sun (for some) and sea?

Social media sites play a big role in today’s marketing mix. They are a great way to connect – can be done from anywhere, anytime. So don’t abandon them just because it’s summer time.

Go back to Mashable’s 2010 kick off article 7 Lessons for Better Networking to re-focus and refresh your networking activities.

Be  original. Twitchhiker just travelled around the world on his Twitter connections – getting support from so many people in so many ways. Boredom and a desire to travel inspired him to use Twitter and tweeters backed him up. Watch for his book about his global travel experience. This story has it all: social networking, global angle and nice people. As ‘Twitchhiker’ himself says – it’s newsworthy because it’s the news news agencies don’t cover traditionally.

But, nothing replaces face-to-face networking. As more people become self-employed, social co-working, or ‘Jelly’ meet-ups, are taking networking to the next level. Entrepreneurs plan a Jelly, meeting up for a day of work related activities at one location. It puts ‘soul mates’ into being a sole proprietor. It gives home workers an office for a day. I just participated in my first e_nation Twitter live web Water Cooler Moment. It was a fun way to meet new people and network.  The support of like-minded entrepreneurs can be so valuable. If there isn’t one in your area, why not start one?

Look for business groups in your area – and think outside the box. With online support like Ning, it’s worth checking out who’s networking online in your area.

But, don’t forget the ‘social’ aspect. Be a community correspondent for your local newspaper. Join a class or volunteer. No matter what tool you use, it’s still people telling other people about you that opens doors. Let me know if you have an interesting social networking example.

There is nothing like a trip abroad to experience the vast range of customer service in the travel industry – and draw comparisons. You can get everything from the brilliant to the beastly all within a few metres of each other. My trips to Canada usually involve a connection in Toronto with everything from several hours to minutes between flights! There is one thing that stands out – those companies and employees willing to go the extra mile delivering customer service.

Recently, faced with a 8 hour delay between flights, I booked (online) a spa time-out at the Sheraton Toronto Airport. When I arrived, after a delicious lunch service, I was met by a quizzical look from the check in staff saying the spa, which rented space from them was under new ownership and rennovations. I explained I had booked it via a link on their website, had received a confirmation and was disappointed. The young lady on staff quickly started calling neighbouring hotels, booked me into another (Delta) hotel’s spa and arranged free limo service for me. Now that’s above and beyond. 

Meanwhile, back in the airport, Thomas Cook staff showed me the other end of the customer service spectrum. I was refused the option to change my seat at check in, after being told that that is where I’d have to do it, when I asked upon departure. Staff told me I’d have to ask at the desk in the departures lounge. That woman rudely told me no. So after being bounced from one desk to another, even though I paid for my seat alocation, not only was I refused the option to change, I refused in a rude manner.

Perhaps they Thomas Cook ground staff need to walk across the road to the Sheraton check-in desk and see how it can be done. In the same amount of time, with the same amount of energy. And, now the Sheraton have a postive review on TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter and here.

It’s only a short trip from customer complaint to customer cudos – and it’s worth it.

Relationship Marketing

10 Customer Service Tips

Many of today’s newly unemployed are choosing to start-up their own businesses. Their biggest fear isn’t failure, it’s working at home alone. After just leaving university, or being made redundant from a job, they are now faced with being at home – alone. But, there is no need to be afraid or alone; there are many ways to have a virtual office environment. Here are three great ones.

Jelly – This brilliant idea is happening on a semi-weekly basis in a space near you. Jelly promotes casual working events. So a Jelly host sets up a place and time – could even be their home – and entrepreneurs get together to work for the day. Ideas are shared. It’s all casual, fun and motivating. Watch their video. Follow them on Twitter.

Enterprise Nation – This fantastic, free service for helping home business owners, is led by Emma Jones, author of Working 5 – 9. My favourite service is their Twitter (@e_nation) #watercoolermoment. It happens daily at 11 am and people tweet together, usually about a specific topic. It’s a nice virtual, online coffee break. And, if you really want to go virtual, try their Friday video watercooler live chat! Brilliant.

If face-to-face is important, ask people to Skype with you. It saves on time, travel and gives you a great connected feeling.  And, it’s free.

With video becoming the next best way of promoting yourself online, using these three options will help you boost your confidence and stay connected to real people whilst you work away in your home office! See you online.

Enterprise Nation‘s Emma Jones (twitter.com/e_nation) hosted and led the four presentations at Furness Enterprise’s 21st Century Communications Master Class workshop today. She talked about the progression from content to community building to commercial relationships. Today’s marketing is all about moving across to peers to get work, not hierarchical like in the past.

Kate Harrison Whiteside

Kate at 21st Century Communications Event

Steve Emecz, head of Business Development at Powa, a commercial web solution for SMEs, set up a commercial site in less than 10 minutes in front of the 60 attendees. He pointed out the importance of a good site search facility, as the majority of visitors come searching for information – like your contact details. Still amazes how many people don’t put names and numbers of staff in their Contact Us section.

Our Social Times‘ Luke Brynley-Jones, a social media consultant, pointed out traditional marketing is no longer ‘working’. New media works because it simply takes word of mouth and trust to the next level – viral. The power lies in people self-selecting. Power to the people.

The North West Evening Mail publishing director Jonathan Lee used videos, produced by the newsroom’s new age journalists,  to prove his point: that it is vitally important that culturally (multimedia) is embedded in the organisation and supported from top to bottom. Describing the business as being at the hub of the community, he illustrated how comments, forums, Twitter, web chats and Facebook mean news is driven by the community not just the company. News conference’s now  begin with a check of all e-media activities first – then what is going in print. They’ve come a long way from the days of black and white printing.

All presenters agreed the key to new media is to use all formats together – print, video, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and any others that work for your business. Social media is here to stay – and all recommended getting into it – before it changes again. And, when it changes again, get on that platform as well. It is the future. But, despite it being new media, the same old marketing principles apply. It is still about connecting with people –  only the medium has changed.


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