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PDFs were designed for printing....on paper....not for viewing on the computer screen.

 

Have you ever gotten to the document you have been searching for, noticed it was a PDF, and let out an annoyed sigh. (Or is this just me?)  Let's face it, PDFs break the exploratory nature of communities.  When a user hits a PDF, the only usable way to ingest the document is to download it locally.  This takes users out of the community.  Below are some strong points for finally retiring PDFs on webpages.

  • First, all viewers/renderers for PDFs are the antithesis of user friendly (Check out this article addressing the issue from the Nielson Norman Group: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/pdf-unfit-for-human-consumption/). In order to effectively read through the document, users download and open it locally, breaking the community exploration workflow.  The PDF viewer has its own set of controls/navigation, making it difficult to navigate within the context of the site & browser controls.
  • Second, and the most important issue with PDFs on webpages, is that the document loses version tracking from one version to the next.  When authors make an update, users don't know if it was a massive update or just a small fix.  With Jive version tracking, modifications are displayed inline:

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  • Third, documents lose modifier information unless authors explicitly include that information in the document.  Since this metadata is tracked automatically in Jive, authors don't have to worry about keeping track of what changes were made and by whom.
  • Lastly, documents lose important community interconnectivity.  @Mentions are fast and easy ways to link related materials. @Mentioning documents assists users in the exploring workflow.  You may have noticed some analytics on the right-hand side of documents:

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    These links let users know about discussions around this document, as well as documents that mention the current document specifically.  This allows users to make investigational jumps in the system to related topics and hopefully resolve their issue quicker.

 

If you must use PDFs, I suggest following these guidelines to provide the best user experience with PDFs online: Best Practices for Using PDFs on Web Pages

This piece was inspired by an article from "The Boston Globe:"

 

What businesses can learn from the Grateful Dead


The Grateful Dead provided us with more than memorable summer nights; they showed the way to business success.  I will focus on two ideas and how they relate to Community Management and Customer Service.

 

1.  Be Transparent

"The Grateful Dead's authenticity endeared them to fans and allowed the band to experiment. They found that mistakes are quickly forgiven if a company is transparent about what it's doing."

 

Trust is everything in business and your business will disappear if your customers do not trust you.  Come forward and admit to your mistake, apologize and fix the problem or policy.  Problems happen, the very companies do not sit back and hope the problem goes away, they take action to fix the issue AND admit they made a mistake.  Do you think GM wishes they acted quicker?

Transparency is not just about customer service, it relates to your financial accounting too.  Enron (and others), lost customer trust and fortunes because of greed and terrible ethics.  Don't keep two sets of books.

Great service and sound ethics are foundations on which you should build your company.

 

2. Give, and you shall Receive

"The Grateful Dead removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape concerts for free. That brought in new fans and grew sales for concerts, records, and merchandise. They showed that when content is free, more people hear about a company and eventually do business with it."

 

Customers are demanding access to knowledge in order to self-solve their problems.  Providing an open knowledge base lowers your customer service costs, increases customer satisfaction, and shows your company is a thought leader.  The Consortium for Service Innovation has published a paper about how Mathworks has turned knowledge-share upside down by publishing their entire knowledge base within their Community.

I can hear the question now: "But support contracts are a large part of our revenue, we can't just give away our knowledge."

Give away the knowledge, not the support.  Customers who pay for a service contract are NOT paying for information, they are paying for immediate support and people to solve their problems for them.

Stop funneling your customers into horrible phone queues: listen to them on social media and build them a community where they can interact with you (and other customers) to learn, share knowledge, and solve their problems.

 

Rock on!

 

Cheers,

Toby

I was recently invited to be a guest speaker on the Social Business Engine podcast where I discussed the use of social media to support the student lifecycle. We talked about all kinds of things from aligning social media strategy to business objectives, important social media data for business decisions, expressing the value of social to the c-suite, use of ambassadors, and much much more! I dropped a bit about our Jive community that we use to engage prospects, students, and alumni.

To check out the podcast, visit: http://bit.ly/sbekatie

 

I would love to learn more about how you use social data to drive business decisions (i barely touched the surface in the podcast) and what one thing in business you would change.

Screen-shot-2014-07-02-at-4.36.23-PM.pngOnline community management is far from new - it’s been around since the beginning of the Internet, and in more formal capacities at media companies since the 90s. Our aggregate understanding of the role, however, is still evolving. What we know from our work over the last five years with clients is that the role varies pretty dramatically based on the strategic importance of the community, experience and responsibility level of the community manager, community use case and the maturity of the community program.

 

The Community Roundtable has invested in a new research platform - our Community Manager Salary Survey - to look at community manager profiles across these variables in order to develop a skill, responsibility and compensation matrix. This data will help both community professionals and hiring community managers evaluate and assess the worth of different roles within community management.

 

Some preliminary findings that were interesting to me:

  • Of those respondents with ‘community’ in their title, 69% were Community Managers, 18% were Community Strategists and 13% were Directors of Community. We had no VPs of Community complete the survey (if you are one, please consider participating in the research).
  • Data on how community professionals are hired suggests HR is still largely absent in recruiting. 22% of community professionals defined their own role before moving into it and 27% were found by hiring managers directly.
  • External (customer and market-facing) community professionals still dominate. 63% of responses were from external community managers, 24% was from internal community managers and 13% worked in other types of community managers.
  • Almost half of all community professionals in the survey have been in their role for one year or less.
  • 37% of community professionals have been promoted - encouraging confirmation that there is a career path within the field of community management.
  • 52% are evaluated by their ability to deliver business outcomes suggesting that organizations are figuring out how to value communities and community management.

While this preliminary data is great, we want to make sure we are capturing the entire range of community management roles and experiences. We are still looking for participation, particularly if you fit into any of the following categories:

  • You own or manage an employee facing community
  • You manage a community but it’s not your sole responsibility or title (i.e. you are a Director of Marketing that owns a community)
  • You are a senior or experienced community professional
  • You work in a traditional industry like manufacturing, energy, financial services, health care and professional services

We are closing the survey soon - please please consider contributing today. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

 

By participating, you will help us develop the most robust and accurate information we can so you have the data you need to prove your worth or align your hiring and job descriptions with industry realities.

 

We take your privacy very seriously and the only individuals who have access to raw data are two members of TheCR team. We do not share any raw (individual) data points with the rest of TheCR team, partners or clients.

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