Don’t Lose It, Man!

Don’t Lose It, Man!
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Don’t get locked out of your online accounts. Make sure to plan ahead.

My kids are constantly losing things. Toys, books, their jackets, etc.  Thankfully for password keychains on our home computer, the one thing they don’t lose access to is their Club Penguin accounts.

If only the same could be said for so many people managing websites and web-based accounts on behalf of their organization.

Here’s a real life example.  I have a client who lost the password to one of their critical web-based tools.  They tried everything they could think of to remember the username and password and got locked out after too many unsuccessful login attempts.  They contacted customer support who promptly e-mailed password recovery options to the e-mail address on record when the account went was established.

However, that e-mail address was of an employee who hasn’t worked at the organization in over a year.  That e-mail box is gone.  No password recovery. (insert sad sound effect here)

That screeching sound you just heard is the brakes being put on all the work they need to do in that online tool while the mess gets sorted out.

There has been much written about not letting interns set up your social media accounts or the fact that Facebook used to allow eternal admin rights to a page creator regardless of that person’s affiliation with the organization or page (which has thankfully been changed).

But here’s another thing to consider when having your team set-up these accounts – people leave jobs.  Even trusted, valuable, loyal people.

Your webmaster or marketing director who set up your Google Analytics, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn pages and controls your online presence may call you tomorrow to tell you they won the lottery and won’t be coming in.  Or you might have layoffs and your HR policy requires you immediately lock that person out of their systems access.

Here’s where internet policy and web governance is critical.

First, when managing the website and online tools, create a generic e-mail box that system administrators can always have ready access to – something like a webmaster@yourorg.org.  Make sure that this is the primary e-mail address associated with those accounts.  Also, make sure to add to your internet usage policies that staff may not set-up accounts for critical business tools under their personal e-mails.

Next, go back and look at all your accounts.  What’s the primary e-mail associated with that account.  Quickly change them all to your master generic account.  If you want to segment access and allow staff access to specific web-based tools, buy additional licenses or set them up as secondary users.

As for that client?  They’ll be fine.  Through a friend of a friend we’ll eventually be able to reset that password so they can have access and continue their work.  But it has stalled their work and is going to take a couple of weeks to sort out.

But with some foresight and planning, the whole mess could have been avoided.

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Bad UI is Everyone’s Problem

BakuganMy son loves Bakugan.  He collects the cards, knows all the character names, watches the show, and wears the T-shirts.  So, he was just plain ecstatic when he discovered the Bakugan website the other day.

My wife promptly started creating an account. Unfortunately it was a very frustrating process that was only exacerbated by an anxious 6-year-old who desperately wants to play with this great new site.  After 20 minutes of struggling she gave up.  My son’s angst turned to anger thinking mommy didn’t love him and wouldn’t let him play on this site.

I calmly explained to him, “Son, it’s not mommy’s fault.  Their website is poorly designed and she can’t get the account to work.”

His response? (With tears in his eyes for effect)

“Daddy, why don’t they just make a better website?”

SMACK!  This is where my experience as a Disney brand manager and online marketer collided.  I know darn well that the target age for Bakugan is 8 to 10, but since kids aspire up, it is pulling in children as young as 5.

So when the developers were engineering this site, did they consider how a 5 year-old would view it?  Or did they only think of the 8 to 10 year olds?  What about the parents who don’t know half of these characters in the first place and may have varying levels of web experience? (And are trying frantically to create an account while there kids are nagging them)

My son’s question was valid?

As you look at your own site, have you considered the scenarios of people visiting it?  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Have you gotten so complex accounting for every single user that you’ve watered down the experience instead of leaving clear paths?
  • Have you considered not only your most typical user but also the one that may have the most issues to address?
  • If someone completely outside your industry lands on your site, can they tell what you do?
  • Can an occasional visitor quickly find the most relevant information?
  • Is there clear navigation following current web design best practices that guides the user where you want them to go?
  • How complex is your sign-up process?

Put yourself in the roles of your site users and occasional visitors and walk through what they would be doing on your website.  Can they find what they might be looking for?  Can they navigate for more information?  Is the content clear that all of these groups can read it?

At the end of the day, it’s about usability and how users will view your company/organization.  And a bad web experience then becomes everyone’s problem.

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Facebook Privacy Breach? Get Over It!

The internet is all aflutter today over the story from the Wall Street Journal that Facebook apps have been passing personal data on to advertisers.

I wish I could care.  I really do.  But here’s the sad reality that everyone keeps forgetting:

Facebook costs you NOTHING!  It is FREE!  How else do you expect them to make money?

My dad taught me a very important lesson that nothing in life is free.

Yet it seems like everyone has assumed that they can use an online system which has millions of dollars of technical development, equipment, staff and other services required to make it  run and never pay a penny for sucking up that bandwidth.  I’ve got news for you….. Facebook never has-been and never-will be a not-for-profit company.  Otherwise investors wouldn’t be lining up and pouring their venture capital into these companies (keep in mind the expected return for a venture capitalist is 300%).

Facebook and other companies like it have to make money in order to justify the investment.

So for everyone that doesn’t want Facebook (or any other free social network for that matter) to share their personal information with advertisers, there’s only one thing to do…. delete your Facebook account.

Or, spend a few minutes to lock down your privacy settings and be comfortable having that information on the internet.

Because in the end, by keeping in touch with friends, sharing photos and videos with family and keeping tabs on your favorite activities, you are getting a much bigger return on your investment in Facebook than the investors will get.

Rant over.  I’ll go back to living online.

3 Steps to Launching Your Online Community – Upcoming Webinar

Online communities and private social networks are taking over the association space as organizations look for new ways to connect with members, keep them engaged and generate revenue.  However while it seems that the hard work is picking a platform and setting it up, your real work has just begun.

Next week, I’ll be giving a webinar for the Avectra Academy on the Care and Feeding of Your Association’s Social Network.

It’s free and packed with lots of information you can immediately put to good use so I hope you’ll sign up.  Here’s some more detailed information.

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 21 at 1 PM ET

While fall is harvest time across most of the country, for associations now is the time to plant the seeds of future success with the launch of a private social network.  While there are technical hurdles such as platform selection and integration, the real effort starts once the technology is in place and the field work is handed off to the program managers.

Join us for a look at the important steps and processes to put in place to make sure you plant a fruitful and engaging social network for your members.

This information packed webinar will offer:

  • Free or low-cost ways to promote your network and get members’ participation
  • Building a roll-out plan to ease your members into the community
  • Getting your members involved to ease the workload on your staff
  • Creating a promotional plan and launching your online communities
  • Creating a plan to keep the community growing

Register online today and I hope to see you there.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Since I’ve started using this blog for more professional than personal observations, I’ve stayed away from political discussions.  However, the recent primary election results have compelled me to comment.

Despite your political leanings, it is clear that the last two significant elections have been driven by voter sentiment that is the polar opposite of whatever party is in power.  The outcome seems to have become a divisive “I don’t want to work with you” attitude.  As I watch the evening news, I feel like I’m watching grown adults behave like my 6 year old having a tantrum because he doesn’t want to do his chores.

And the result is that we have a system dominated by groups that hold on to their opinions so strongly that no one wants to work together — and eventually nothing happens.

I’m all for strong opinions.  It’s why people like me have jobs and why companies and non-profits bring in consultants.  Let’s face it we don’t gravitate toward milquetoast personalities.

But the reality is that 99% of us get paid to get work done (unless you are a reality TV star).   And eventually you have to work with others to do that.

Some conflict is good and can help push conversations forward.  However, when faced with looming deadlines or a tense situation there is still work to be done.  Then it’s time to open up and figure out a way to work together.

I’m kicking off a web governance project with a client today.  This is sure to be a tense conversation involving people’s expertise, their feelings, perceptions of their work and more.  But at the end of it all, I am confident that the professionals I work with who are tasked with managing an organization will realize that they need to get things done and they’ll find a way to work together.

After all, we all can’t be politicians and reality TV stars.  So let’s check our egos, open our ears (and our minds) and find a way to work together.

Who Wants To Be at ASAE Annual but is Stuck in DC?

Yes, the ASAE Annual Meeting is possibly the most important event of the year for association professionals to learn and connect with their association peers.  Sadly, due to budget cuts, travel restrictions or just lack of funding… not all of us can go.

So if you’re stuck in DC and still want to connect with likeminded association peeps, you’re invited to a special I Wish I Were at ASAE Annual Happy Hour.

  • When:  Monday, August 23rd at 5:30 PM
  • Where:  Rock Bottom Brewery in Bethesda, MD
  • Sponsored by: Vanguard Technology — Thanks to Vanguard’s generous sponsorship, we’ll be providing 2 drink tickets plus some appetizers.

At a minimum look for me, Maggie McGary from ASHA (@maggielmcg), and several of the good folks from SmartBrief.  If you think you’ll be able to make it, please let me know by leaving a comment so we can have the restaurant set aside some space if we get enough people.

We’ll work on getting a sponsorship and will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

For those of you that need directions, here’s a map:

We hope to see you there.