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International Plain Language Day (IPLD) October 13, 2011 is gaining global support from plain language professionals in Sweden, the UK, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India, and Africa.Events and contests are being planned in various localities.

So far, we know of these plans for IPLD:

In South Africa, a social media meme for the worst example of gobbledygook.

In Calgary Alberta Canada, a petition campaign on City Hall steps to have IPLD declared by the city for 2012.

In Atlanta Georgia, another contest for an example of the worst government writing.

In Ottawa Canada, a celebratory luncheon.

In Washington DC, a workshop for government writers.

“The movement for plain language is really growing. For example, LinkedIn’s Plain Language Advocates Group I host is nearing 800 international members.” said Cheryl Stephens, a leader in the movement and an expert in plain legal language, “From October 13, U.S. government materials written for the public must be in plain language.We’ve chosen this date to celebrate hard-won achievements in many countries who are making materials understandable and usable.”

“Plain Language” is the design of clear information focused on the reader, to fit the reader’s information needs and reading abilities.

“Cheryl Stephens and I started the international plain language network and conferencing in the early 90s using only email and web pages,” said Kate Harrison Whiteside, a social media and plain language consultant. “For IPLD we are using all the social technology available to get world-wide support for this important day.”

The health, legal, government, banking, social, education and business sectors around the world are all making progress in recognizing the need and the demand for plain language, and putting it on their agendas.

“We need to keep raising the demand for plain language from the public,” said Stephens. “Plain language is now recognized world-wide; the next step is to have it integrated into all communication training and delivery. The importance of communicating clearly to our audience is ever greater.”

On October 13, 2011, people and organizations will be hosting events online, in offices, and on the streets to mark their support for putting readers first in communication by using plain language.

Contacts

Cheryl Stephens, plainlanguage.com

email@cherylstephens.com 1-604- 802-9606

Kate Harrison Whiteside, keyadvice.net

kate@keyadvice.net 1-587-896-5377

International Plain Language Day Links 

IPLD Facebook Page

Twitter – #iplday

LinkedIn – Plain Language Advocates – IPLD

 


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Everybody is doing it – blogging, tweeting, Facebook posting, LinkedIn updates – but not everyone is doing it well. Here are some great tips on top social media behaviour that will help you get top results.

The Japanese crises – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear problems – have attracted global attention. Some businesses sincerely want to use social media to show support, other efforts are thinly veiled attempts at self-promotion. Always remember social media users are knowledgeable – for the most pat – not gullible. ClickZ provides some clear guidelines for brands on ‘helping Japan’.

After having to fight with fans more interested in yelling into their mobile phone than cheering for their team recently, I am wondering if the result is going to be a please switch off your phone campaign. But, it’s not just individuals, many organisations are not using mobile technology in the best – and most strategic – way. Adobe Scene 7’s Mobile Best Practices white paper on ClickZ looks at how industry leaders are making the most of mobile technology – with excellent results. The focus is on targeting your strategy – not throwing everything in one pot.

But, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, and keep your fans happy, it’s all about ‘content’. Many organisations are more concerned about showing off, while their sophisticated social media clients are more interested in substance. Fresh, interesting content is what keeps some brands well out front. More Visibility has some great tips on how to create social media content that people will ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’. Even if you are well established, a quick refresher on the basics never hurts.

 

So you have a Facebook site and page. You have sent out some invites to events. A couple of groups are slowly taking shape. How do you report are your developments. First, you need your Facebook strategy integrated into your marketing and communications strategy. Then, you can start tracking your activities.

Facebook Weekly Report Statistics

Your Facebook Weekly Report can be the pillar of your reporting spreadsheet. It gives your key categories to track growth and activity from: Active Users, Likes (previously Fans – which I preferred), wall posts and comments, visits. The bonus to these figures is that they are measured in a consistent way, from a consistent source giving you consistent numbers for measurement and reporting. These are the bedrock of your statistics.

Facebook Invites and Activities

You set up your Facebook site or page to engange. So, let’s also keep track of the number of Groups, members, interactivity. This is also true for Discussions – topics, postings, users. How many events did you post? Invites did you send out? Comments or feedback received? These activites are just as important as the hard numbers – think about how many people you are involving – and how much easier and quicker this is than sending a print document.

Human Responses

Not all Facebook return on investment will occur right on the site. Use a tool like How Sociable to track your social media ratings. It’s free and gives you a bird’s eye view of all social interactivity. Track human feedback – comments at the watercooler, emails about your FB activities, public reaction at your meetings, feedback from other FB page managers, your team.  All these will help take the pulse of your initiative and help with the planning at the next stage.

A little knowledge of your Facebook trends will provide a lot of power for promoting (next topic) and reporting to management on the value of this e-marketing initiative. And, help you hit targets.

Enterprise Nation on How Facebook Can Help My Business

Geo-tagging is nothing new – with Facebook Places the current talk of the town. But, the Hotlist geo app brings all the key social media services together at one table, serving up a tasty treat for users.  It’s about integrating, morphing and mashing everything that’s social about a location – and feeding our appetite for geo data.

Mashable’s  Jolie Odell takes a  bite big picture – giving you a review of what Hotlist looks like to the user – just in case you haven’t activated it. It’s mobile use – all these things are geared for the urban traveller – is the icing on the cake. You can find out what’s happening, who’s there, ration of male to female participants, follow Twitter chat, post to Facebook.

So far it’s only available for iPhone.  Blackberry and others will just have to wait – but not long.

Social media sites and services are growing in popularity and use. They have become a key component of any marketing strategy. But, are they the be-all, end all? Of course not. So what approach should we take?

Many organisations are looking for a quick, cheap fix to their marketing challenges as we go through challenging economic times. But, it is not wise – nor has it ever been – to put all your eggs in one basket. Social media may be the shining example – but it’s strength is best recognised when it is integrated into your ‘traditional’ marketing mix.

Some businesses – particularly new, youth target market ones – may get away initially with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter marketing as their mainstay. But if you are selling, you will eventually need the support of other forms of promotions to expand.

And, the wise marketing manager knows nothing comes free. Yes, social media platforms are free – but you still a human to manage them. And, we too quickly can forget it’s all about people – not technology.

Econsultancy blogger Matt Owen takes a good look at ‘Why social media needs to learn the marketing basics’

Have an opinion? Post a comment.

Which is better? It’s a question many clients ask. It is like asking should I bungee jump or zip wire? It depends on those basic 5 Ws. Who are you making contact with? Why? When? What do you want to do and achieve? Where are the people you want to connect with? Here are what some of the experts are saying about Facebook vs Twitter.

The Social Media Examiner looks at ‘3 Reasons Why Facebook Trumps Twitter for Business’, highlighting ways to effectively manage your Facebook page, fans and friends so you can target your messages and build networks (lists). This information was perfect for me, because like Michael I had stalled out on Facebook.

Mashable tackles the topic head on asking ‘When Do You Use Twitter vs Facebook?’ They point out that while many social media platforms look the same, it is their users who should determine which one you choose to use to publicise an event, research a product, track feedback.

The Marketers on Twitter LinkedIn group Twitter survey results showed majority of people using social media run their posts through more than one platform – Twitter to LinkedIn for example. This can increase brand awareness, site traffic and exposure. But measuring ROI techniques varied. Research like this can help you make informed decisions.

We are getting to the stage of social media use where we need to stand back, analyse how it is working, what benefits we are achieving, and where we can make improvements. Integrated into your marketing strategy, social media activities need to be monitored, managed and manipulated the same as your other components.

Invest a little time, and you will reap the rewards.

Learning is a life long event – and there’s no better way to learn than in a classroom of new students. I mean learn from the students. Collaborative learning is so inspiring – and nothing lends itself more to it than a topic like web design. Here is what I learned from the students in my Web Design for Business class at Kendal College‘s Creative Arts Centre.

Passion

The students arrived at the first class nine weeks ago with limited exposure to websites and design. But, they had a passion for a topic. Whether it was a business, a service for a client group, a past time, or a promoting themselves to find work – they all embraced the task with passion. It showed in the final results.

Panache

Despite a steep learning curve – image creation, HTML, SEO, and an unknown template, social media sites – they were confident that this was the right media for their message. They tried new things, shared ideas with each other, and when it came to evaluating each other’s sites, they provided helpful ideas – most which were acted upon immediately. It takes a confident person to critique another’s work, and a confident person to receive and accept it.

Perseverance

But, most impressive was their perseverance. They stuck with it. Overcame technical difficulties. Tried different ways until they found the best one for them – and their audience.

Have you got the 3 P’s to build your own website? Of course you do. But, it’s always more fun in a group. If there isn’t a class available, ask your local college to put one on. Or, form a Jelly and work together in your own group. There’s nothing that can make you feel prouder than having your own website – and with all the free platforms out there – WordPress, Blogspot, Weebly – there’s no need to delay any longer. A little passion, panache and perseverance and you’ll be live in no time!


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