Friday, 8 January 2016

Company Vs Community Advocacy

My last post The Corporation Vs The Selfless Giver saw me consider the difference in personality profiles of the "psychopathic corporate boardroom" Vs teachers in the classroom and how educators might find it difficult to say no when people ask for help.

This put me at odds with companies who I like and admire. I found it difficult to articulate how and why it's possible to be a fan of every aspect of what some companies do based on what you know about the company. They appear to have a great culture, they have a great product and they certainly value their users input.

But to then highlight research that suggests these same organisations could fit the profile of a psychopath is a bit of a contradiction.

The only explanation I might have offered before today is that there is a difference between the motives of the founders and their investors who have a say in how the business is run and their main/only focus is that they get a return on their investment.

But then I joined Community Manager Hangout (#Cmgrhangout) this evening, and hope that the moderators and panel have helped me to find a way to better articulate this... It appears to be quite a common community management issue.

I'd like to put this evenings #Cmgrhangout in the context of how my day went.

8am: DigCitSummitUK - Crowdfunding & ROI
I send some emails out to suppliers that educators would be willing to advocate for, if they were able to make it to the UK Digital Citizenship Summit and the BETT Show in two weeks time.

I detail how crowdfunding could cost as little as $150 to send an educator from the US to the UK, how this would be value for money at $75 per event as well as provide some examples of how a return on investment would be possible.

Along with Get2ISTE this is something that a growing number of educators would like to see suppliers support... but this support has been slow to materialise.

9am: Spread Supplier Love... and Win a T-Shirt
I receive an update from a well known and respected EdTech company who have had millions of dollars in VC funding (And I mean MILLIONS!!). The content of the update includes:

"Are you going to BETT? Do you love our product? We invite you to join our XYZ event and the first 30 people to sign up will receive a branded cape for the event... spread the #XYZLove"

Having explored the roll out process of technology in education and the way that companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft etc get traction with their products, this update reads to me as

"Help us sell our product for us and we'll give you a T-shirt," because if a reasonable number of educators are wearing the companies swag and are in the same place at the same time this will put "social proof" to work.

In my Get2ISTE2016: Ways to Get Support During 2015 post I suggested that educators use these same tactics to put "social proof" to work in the hope that it would have exactly the same effect for crowdfunding educators PD.

1pm: DigCitSummitUK - Unsubscribe
After working with educator and Digital Citizenship Summit Co-Founder Marialice Curran on the best possible content, I send an email out to my UK education contacts to let them know about the event on the 23rd January at Bournemouth University... I receive a few replies asking me to unsubscribe them from my updates.

It's disheartening to put all this effort in and the work to get overlooked so easily, especially when other companies can be won over with the promise of a T-Shirt. Neither is this an isolated incident. Nor is this a gripe of a criticism... it's just a fact.

Previously on #Cmgrhangout
An earlier #Cmgrhangout session facilitated one of the best exercises that I have ever done, which helped Tech Stories find the "Brands Voice" (See Using Core Values to Find a Brands Voice).

This is a topic that was touched on in today's session with comments like "Make sure any potential #Cmgr new hires share the company's culture and/or suggestions on how to ensure that they get the brands voice right.

The process and framework that I went through thanks to Dom Garrett means that if I were to say:

"It's possible for me to be a fan of these companies and products but I can  also question if, on this particular issue, it's the most honest relationship possible" 

The comment would be in line with Tech Stories brand voice and core values.

I am indeed a huge fan of many of these companies and their products, but if there is one thing that baffles me it is how educators are willing to add significant value to these companies because they are such fans... but educators don't always get support when they need it with their projects, this is despite some of these companies being extremely well funded.

Something else about my day that is frustrating is that educators can be willing to engage with a brand that they like so easily... but startups can receive an "unsubscribe" message, regardless of how great the service is or how well thought out the content is and is or the fact that the event and content was in collaboration with their fellow educators.

7pm: Cmgrhangout - The Wisdom of the Cmgrs
As can so often happen, today's cmgrhangout provided a few "Ah Ha" moments and some clarity with some of these issues. The topic today was Scoping a Community Manager Role.


Emma Cunningham's Tweet really helped me to see how my perspective is a natural one in the world of Community Management. 

I've never held a formal paid Community Management post but I can imagine that internally there might be a lot of pressure for the community team to demonstrate an ROI with every task, that there could be constant demands from the sales department to identify how each and every action will deliver value.

"We will always do what is right, even if it is not necessarily profitable" one of my faviourite core values from one of the companies that feature in "Small Giants - Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big"

So my asking "If Marialice Curran and other educators deliver value to the tune of $20,000 per annum through her advocacy work, but can't get the support for travel costs... where these educators would add more to the bottom line" sounds like it's something of an on-going discussion that's part of the #Cmgr's employer Vs community needs balancing act.  

The question of Community Manager salary came up.As this is a role that is relatively new the salary levels vary and some panelists said that companies will say "They got a Community Manager rock star for a bargain" and #Cmgrhangout moderator Sherrie Rohde said something that is SO applicable to educators.

As long as educators are willing to deliver $20,000 worth of value to suppliers for the cost of a T-shirt, then crowdfunding projects like #Get2ISTE might never become mainstream.

In my last post I drew out the value in $$ that educators deliver, this has not always been an easy topic to raise given how unmotivated my money that educators are, and to raise the topic has been unwelcome by all stakeholders in the past.

I hope that we are over this now and that my last post highlights that if educators let them, then various stakeholders will happily take as much as $100,000 worth of value and offer little in return.

I hope that this post highlights how and why this can happen.

#Cmgrhangout and #DigCitSummitUK
My reasons for getting involved with the Digital Citizenship Summit is because the event endeavours to bring diverse groups together to discuss the safe, savvy and ethical use of technology. 

One of the people we are hoping to get to the event through our crowdfunding efforts includes #Cmgrhangout founder Tim MacDonald. 

Speaking from experience I know that students, educators, education suppliers and other attendees would benefit from having Tim at the event.

Can we get Tim and some of the other educators and industry experts to Bournemouth University on the 23rd January? I've no idea, but I'll continue to think of ways to make this happen.

The call for speakers is now closed but to get involved with the event you can sign up the the DigCit-a-Thon on the 19th January, which is in collaboration with Jaime Donnally and her fantastic EdCamp Global team, or book your free tickets to the event please click on the links below:

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