Monday, August 26, 2013

The Anatomy of a Flake

Do you suffer from wishy-washy behavior? Are you commitment phobic? Are you an “it’s all about the journey, not the destination (I will explain this one further) ” kind of person? If you answered yes……..ummmmm……sorry, but you might be a Flake.

Bigstock photo by Madlen

A Flake is an unreliable person…….someone who agrees to do something, but never follows through. Flakey Folk or FF’s are the bane of anyone trying to plan an event. They are like kryptonite.

Alyssa Currie, a twenty-something university student and sorority recruiter (who also suggested I write about this topic) said it best: 

“If we didn’t have a ‘maybe’ culture….we would not require a ‘no refund’ clause”.

She is correct. We have become a maybe culture. Why the cultural shift?

It is our fault really; we have knowingly reduced attendee accountability.

In our quest to make it easier for our attendees/guests to say ‘YES’ to the event (online registration, Facebook event requests), we have made it much easier for attendees to cancel at the last minute. Money does not seem to be a deterrent…..there seem to be no effective consequences.

“Something came up”

“I completely forgot”.

Believe it or not, Flakey Folk have an archetype.

  •    Born with the Flakey Gene (F2nOgO): There are those born Flakey (many of whom required a C-section because they couldn’t even commit to a “birth” date)– they will always say yes and rarely attend any event.
  •   Along for the Ride:  These are the individuals who will check off “maybe attending” simply so that they can be a part of the pre-event excitement. They are all about the journey and not so much about the destination. 
  •  Late blooming Flakes: This group will become Flakes much later in life. Scientists are unsure if the cultural shift within this aging demographic is as a result of global warming or the higher mercury levels in fish. Perhaps they are simply sick and tired of always being the responsible ones.
  •  The Busy Beaver: This highly organized but over stimulated individual will be the first to respond to your invitation and pay the registration fee. They really want to attend, but once the initial registration process is over, they forget and move on to something else. Squirrel!

Thankfully…..Flakey Folk make up a very small percentage of attendees. The majority is an amazing group who are excited about the event and a stampede of wild buffalo will not keep them from attending (they will probably assume it is the event pre-show and take copious instagram pictures).

Here are a few tips that might assist in reducing your Flake Factor at your next event, but warning……. they are definitely no ‘panacea’ (my word of the day):

  •   Continue the registration conversation: The registration process doesn’t end when the credit card payment is received. You need to create a relationship/connection with your guests. One way to do this is to text, tweet or call your registered attendees to thank them for registering and give them your contact information for any follow-up questions they may have. This can be time consuming, but works well for small events. Text, tweet or call AGAIN about one week prior to the event to remind them of start time, location, etc. For both large and small events, include the calendar feature in your online registration system, which will automatically add the event to the attendee’s calendar.
  • Call your “Maybe’s”: Unfortunately you have no choice but to call to follow-up with those who have responded as “maybe attending”. If you are frustrated with the large number of Flakey Folk responses on Facebook who frequently use the “maybe attending” feature……perhaps you should refrain from using Facebook as an event RSVP system?
  •  RVSP Old School: There is something special about receiving an actual letter/invitation in the mail requesting your attendance at an event. Some say that if a guest has taken the time to respond in writing, they are more likely to attend. Furthermore, it is more difficult for the guest to back out at the last minute because you have removed the instant/online/click to say no feature.
  •  Charge them accordingly: Restaurants are becoming so frustrated with patrons who make reservations and then no show, that they have begun requesting credit card information when the reservations are made. If the patron does not show at the agreed upon time……..their card is charged.
  • Three strikes and you are out: Associations and Clubs who host monthly meetings tend to have higher than average no show rates. Would a “three strikes you are out” policy be helpful?

Let’s face it……we all have a little “Flake” inside who has reared its noncommittal head from time to time. We rarely stop and think about how it may affect others: namely the host or the planner. The cost is both financial and personal.

Thank you to Alyssa for the great topic suggestion!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Love Lists? You have got to check out Listly!

You know when you stumble across something on twitter that makes you pause and think, “that’s really cool”?  Well……that happened to me recently:

Listly is best described as it appears in Google Search: 

I instantly wanted to know more about Listly and how it might be a useful tool for blogging or for events. I tweeted this:

Thank you to Nick Kellet for the Interview!


Judy: Couple of things right off the top.....I love your twitter avatar! Everything about you seems to emit a great deal of positive energy. So my first questions are so that I can get to know more about you. Are you that guy all of the time? The extrovert with tremendous energy and passion? If yes, have you always been that way?
Great question. I took my Myers Briggs test recently for the first time. I'm ENFP but I was only a borderline extrovert.

I've always got lots of energy and passion, that's always been there, but I can sometimes get overloaded. I'm quite happy with my own company and that's when I work on an idea, but I love to socialize and share ideas too. That's how you make a good idea into a great one.
Judy: Have you always lived in Kelowna (I am from British Columbia as well) or did you move there to taste the delicious wine and enjoy the tremendous weather?
I moved in 2004 from the UK and yes it was very much a lifestyle decision. Lakes, wine and powder snow are not a bad mix. Compared to the UK, Canada is very much an outdoor lifestyle.
Judy: Is the Listly team made up of yourself and Shyam Subramanyan? I notice that he is from the Silicon Valley – how did you connect and come up with the concept?
Currently it is Shyam and I, but we are hiring for UX (User Experience) design and development. Shyam began the company. He was looking at ways to extract more value from the mass of unstructured data on the web. Very quickly "Numbered Lists" e.g. "10 ways to …" , "7 things you need to …" etc became an obvious candidate.

It turns out, numbered lists are one of the most effective forms of marketing content. 30% of content are published in the form of numbered lists simply because they work. More people read and share numbered lists.

The problem is these lists are static HTML. That's the Listly point of difference. We make numbered list posts interactive, collaborative and embedable. Lists posts are good, we just make them great.

I was exploring a similar idea and that's when I learned of Listly and discovered Shyam. We got talking and a month later we met in person and shook on a deal to work together - I joined as co-founder.
Judy: How long has Listly been in existence? What was your goal in creating Listly?
Listly launched in June 2011.

Our goal is to be the go-to source for Lists on the web. We see lists as a type of media, just like videos and slides. Listly is to lists as YouTube is to videos or Slideshare to slides.

We're used to uploading videos and slides and then embedding them on our blog, so we all get the model. Reusability is the cornerstone of content marketing. These are what I call
content networks.

We see the same opportunity for lists as for slides, videos etc, but there's a twist. Unlike videos and slides, lists change after the moment of publishing. They evolve.

The slow changing, collaborative nature of Listly lists works great to get your content found. It also keeps your audience coming back for more. Your audience
invests emotionally in your content. We know that is significant. We're simply a collaborative form of user generated content that brands, bloggers and publishers can own and moderate.

We think of each list as a community. Only people who care about a list's topic/content will participate and contribute.

It becomes a collaborative effort to keep your lists accurate and current, which in turn attracts more people. We think of lists as a kind of
"living media".

We've now
benchmarked lists against other forms of media. We are offering this as a free service for now. All people have to do is like the deck on slideshare and comment with their blog URL and we'll audit their last 25 blogs posts - it's quite revealing and highly actionable.
Judy: I referred to Listly as “Pinterest for Lists” - is that an appropriate description?
Kind of -  I mentioned that Listly is slideshare for lists.

Pinterest and Listly are about collections. We happen to use the metaphor of a list, pinterest uses a board, but as I described above we see the big difference as one of collaboration.

Listly is built on the premise of crowdranked and crowdsourced content. It's not about me and my boards, it's about us and our lists.

Some call it crowdsourcing, but I think it's much more about community forming. We build participation which is ultimately what brands want, they just don't necessarily know how to go about building it.

You think you are building participation on Facebook, but that's not the case - you don't own the relationship and you don't own the content.
Judy: I am an Meeting Planner, can you recommend ways in which an event professional can use Listly for an event?
We have lots of people using listly to help get more value from events . I've written a blog post around that topic.  Essentially you need to think about elongating the event window in order to maximize it's value to you the organizer and most importantly the participant.   Think of what value your can bring before, during and after an event.  Think about attendees, speakers, and content.  Let people crowdsource the attendee list. Let people figure out who they want to network with before they arrive at the event. Events are frenzied and once you arrive, you loose the ability to plan. Blink and the event is over. So when you think about educating the attendees / participants to extract value before, during and after the event, they are left with a much more positive impression and a much stronger ROI.
Thank you Nick - some great information about the value of using Listly.

In case you missed the links in the blog post:

You can check out Listly HERE
Follow the energetic Nick Kellet HERE

My blog post wouldn't be complete if I didn't begin and share a list: