Tag Archives: Organizing

What I learned on my summer vacation

5 Things I Learned On My Summer Vacation

I volunteer as a Board Member for the Redcliff Public Library.  We are a small library in a small town, but we’ve agreed that one of the important things that we need to do is to promote our library  on Social Media. Of course, there is no extra money to hire additional staff to perform this responsibility. And so, one of the tasks I’ve taken on, is handling the library’s social media campaigns. It has been a good experience, partnering with our Library Manager to promote our library through various social media channels*.

This summer I worked on 3 different campaigns promoting the library. While I’m rediscovering the wheel here; I think the wheel is the same shape regardless of the size of your audience/campaign. So, here are 5 things I’ve learned about using social media effectively.

#1 Organization is Key

If you’re not prepared to be organized about your social media you might as well not start any kind of social media campaign. The problem – many people (including myself at the start of this project) think of social media in terms of hanging out on Facebook and Twitter and playing on Pinterest. They don’t think of it as real work. If you’re going to do it right – it is real work and you need to get organized to do it. After running three social media campaigns for our library, I’m building a workflow and the tools to support that workflow. I also think about the workload differently now. Various campaigns may represent peak effort, but in order to keep the connection with our audience alive (see #3), we need to plan to stay active all the time.

#2 Know Your Audience

It seems so simple, of course you’ve got to know your audience. But really, who are you talking to? To get the best results for your effort on social media, be prepared to re-evaluate who your audience is. For example; initially on Twitter our follows were of other libraries and and book oriented accounts. But the longer this social media project goes on, the more our definition of our audience and our purpose for talking to them evolves. Currently, we see all social media channels as methods for connecting with our patrons. And by demonstrating our strong connections with our patrons, we are also using social media to influence our funding agencies.

#3 Silence is Golden – Except When it Isn’t

Don’t wait for your announcement/programs/promotion before you start to speak to your audience. The social media space is a busy place and people aren’t going to hang around watching to see if you’re about to say something.

Instead

#4 Give First

Bring value to the conversation with information that is useful and/or interesting to your conversation partners. This is good manners and good conversation in real life, and it works online too. Good value can be kitten pictures or local information. Targeting your audience will help you decide what information serves them best. I  won’t say the worst thing you can do is post random stuff, but random does make you appear less focused. It makes it harder for your desired audience to understand what you can do for them.  Take advantage of the analytics provided by the various social media channels. What posts are liked and shared? What tweets are viewed most often?

#5 Make Connections

Make connections with complementary organizations. Linking to partners also helps with the ever present problem (demand) for more content. It wasn’t until I started including information from the Town of Redcliff’s Programs and Events calendar; that I felt like our information stream started to achieve a natural flow. That is; we’re publishing lots of useful posts/tweets, without always harping on our particular program reminders and solicitations. Instead, “our stuff” is placed in an attractive context of useful information.  Connections have helped with content and those connections extend our reach by sharing and reposting  our content.

Have I figured everything out yet? Of course not, social media is a work in progress and so is how we use it.


Footnotes

* What do I mean by Social Media Channels. For now, for us, it is Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
†By workflow, I mean creating a series of steps that will take an idea and create a series of posts, tweets etc to promote it. Very little of this is automated. My goal is to create a workflow that any volunteer could follow.
My tools include at this point: an Excel spreadsheet, an IFTTT account, Google Calendar, and a bit of Hootsuite. This article from Hootsuite started me thinking about how I wanted to design my own spreadsheet.


 

One-Time Schedules

In my last post I discussed Subscription Calendars. These are a useful way to keep up to date without requiring you to re-enter important dates in your calendar. Today, I’m talking about One-Time Schedules. These are useful when you have a schedule of events, usually of relatively short duration, that you don’t anticipate a lot of changes to. For example;  perhaps you are organizing a soccer league and want to give the schedule to coaches and players in a convenient format. Creating a One-Time Schedule lets you create a file you can quickly email to users, that they can import into their preferred calendar. This is also a technique you can use to bring a work calendar into your personal calendar.

One-Time Schedule

Exporting a One-Time Calendar from iOS Importing a One-Time Calendar into iOS
The iOS app Week Calendar, can easily export a calendar in a number of formats. This is a paid app, but it has a number of useful features.I recommend creating a new calendar to contain the one-time calendar, to avoid accidentally exporting personal appointments. Start by filtering your view to only the calendar you wish to export. Depending on the version of the app (iPad or iPhone) use the Share or Settings button. Look for the Share or Export option. Enter the Start and End dates for the appointments you wish to export.From the Type option select the ICS calendar format (most modern calendars use the ICS format, if you are exporting for someone using an older calendar format, then select CSV).Press the Export option.

Choose Send by e-mail and the ICS file will be automatically attached to an email.

From the email, touch the ICS attachment. Press the Add All button. Select the calendar you wish to import the events into. Press the Done button.

 

Exporting a One-Time Calendar from Google Importing a One-Time Calendar into Google
The Android app iCal Import/Export CalDav (Free and Pro), can export a calendar in ICS format. This is a paid app, but it has a number of useful features. I recommend creating a new calendar to contain the one-time calendar, to avoid accidentally exporting personal appointments. Open the iCal Import/Export app. Start by selecting the calendar you wish to export. Use the Active Calendar link to open the Choose/edit Calendar window.Touch the Choose other calendar button to open a list of your Google calendars. Touch the calendar you wish to export.Use the back button to return to the main screen.

Touch the Export button.

The Export calendar window will open.

If it is not already selected, choose Email as the delivery method.

Enter the filename you want for the calendar in the Filename text box.

Enter the email of the person you will send the calendar to.

Add a subject line to the email.

Press the Start Export button.

The file will be created and the Export finished window will appear.

Click on the OK option.

The Gmail app will open and the email with the attached file will appear.

Send the email.

From the email, touch the ICS attachment. The iCal Import/Export app will launch and open to the Import Calendar screen. Use the Active Calendar link to open the Choose/edit Calendar window. Touch the Choose other calendar button to open a list of your Google calendars. Touch the calendar you wish to import into.Press the Continue button.Press the Import button.

 

I hope this series of posts on Sharing Calendar information has been useful.

One-Time Calendar Postcard Front and Back
One-Time Calendar Postcard Front and Back

Related Posts:

Subscription Calendars

In my last post I discussed creating calendars with Shared Editor access.  Granting Shared Editor access calendars allows multiple accounts to view and edit appointments on the same calendar. Subscription Calendars are a solution to a different problem. Many public organizations create Subscription Calendars to allow the public to view (but not edit) the organizations’ schedule. I know it is useful  to know your local school district’s schedule of professional days when you are planning holidays.  Perhaps your favourite sports team publishes their schedule this way, or a community group has a public events calendar. Or possibly you’d like to do this yourself, by creating a Subscription Calendar that others can use regardless of whether they use an iOS or Android phone.

Subscription Calendars

If you are planning to create a Subscription Calendar, I recommend subscribing to a calendar or two. Get a feel for the steps required, because you will be asked how to subscribe! While in theory subscription calendars can be created using iOS accounts; my tests have shown that receiving updates outside of the Apple environment is very slow. I recommend creating subscription calendars using a Google Account.

Subscribing to a Calendar in iOS Subscribing to a Calendar using Android
Locate the URL of the calendar you are subscribing to. It will look something like (note the ics extension):

(this is a calendar that I have created based on the Prairie Rose School Division Calendar) Go to Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendars> Add Account and select Other from the list of account types. Select Add Subscribed Calendar. Type or paste the URL of the calendar into the Server text box. Press the Next button. Choose whether to Remove Alarms from this calendar.  Press the Save button. In the Calendar app, choose to display the subscribed calendar.
From a web browser, go to the page with the subscription calendar. If there is a Google Calendar button for the subscription calendar, click on it. The Calendar will open and a dialog box will ask “Do you want to add this calendar?” Click on the Yes, add this calendar button. If there is no Google Calendar button, you can copy the calendar URL. Then open the Google Calendar. Click on the drop-down beside Other Calendars. Select Add by URL.The Add by URL dialog box will open.Paste or type the calendar URL into the URL text box.Click on the “Add Calendar” button.

Here is a sample of what a Subscription Calendar looks like, when embedded into a website. Note the Google Calendar button at the bottom right of the calendar. Google’s sample code for embedding includes the button automatically.

In my next post I’ll look at creating and distributing One-Time Calendars.

Subscription Calendar Postcard Front and Back
Subscription Calendar Postcard Front and Back

related posts:

Calendars with Shared Editor Access

In my last post, I discussed Calendar Sharing; which allows you to share your calendar seamlessly between Apple and Android devices.  With Shared Editor access, you can set up a shared  calendar useful for family members regardless of what kind of phone or tablet they use. Or perhaps you want to create a cooperative calendar for a team of volunteers. In any event, Shared Editor access allows the owner to grant access to other people so they can read and edit entries on the same calendar.

Shared Editor Calendars

Unsurprisingly, both Google and Apple restrict users from outside their ecosystems from accessing their user accounts. The simplest setup for a Shared Editor calendar is to use Google to create and maintain a shared calendar.

Create the Shared Calendar in Google Access the Shared Calendar from an iOS Device
From a web browser create a Google Account. While your new Gmail email address will be your Google Account user name, you can provide your regular Apple email as a backup recovery email.Open the Calendar.Use the default calendar or create a new calendar for Sharing.Click on the drop-down arrow beside the calendar you wish to share.Select the Share this Calendar option.In the Share with specific people area, enter the Gmail email address of the person you want to share this calendar with in the Person text box. Select the degree of access you want to grant from the Permission Settings drop-down box.Click on the Save button to save the settings. Apple’s Mail, Contacts, Calendars Settings allow you to add your Google account information.Go to Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendars> Add Account and select Google from the list of account types.Enter your account information.Press the Sign In button.Use the Accept button to grant your device access to your Google account.In the Gmail screen select the portions of your Google account you will use on your Apple device.In the Apple calendar app select the Calendars button and a list of all the Google calendars will appear under the heading “Gmail

In my next post, I’ll look at using Subscription Calendars.

related posts:

Shared Editor Postcard Front and Back
Shared Editor Postcard Front and Back

Calendar Sharing 

 

LATCH

Faced with designing a PowerPoint presentation and you don’t know where to begin? Try using LATCH to organize your material. First proposed by Richard S. Wurman (who also founded TED); LATCH offers a method of organizing your information. LATCH is an acronym that stands for; Location, Alphabetically, Time, Category, Hierarchy. Mr. Wurman’s brilliantly simple idea is that all information can be organized using one of these frameworks.

Some examples of LATCH are useful:
Organizing by LOCATION:

  •  Maps
  •  Diagrams; for example an anatomy diagram labeling parts of the body.

Organizing ALPHABETICALLY:

  • Telephone books
  • Filing systems
  • Indexes

Organizing by TIME:

  • Schedules (for example, a bus schedule)
  • A manufacturing process
  • Historical information

Organize by CATEGORY:

  • Retail stores organize their goods by category
  • Libraries separate their books into Fiction, Non-Fiction and other categories

Organize by HIERARCHY:

  • Best to Worst
  • Lightest to Heaviest
  • Military Command structures

You might enjoy watching the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgi1JQGHENI#t=12

Some kinds of information can be organized using more than one of these methods. For example a bus schedule is better understood if a map accompanies it. As the author of a presentation it is your job to figure out which method is best for your presentation or if multiple methods would bring greater clarity.

Using LATCH can help the presentation flow better and it can also help users recall more information, more effectively. Psychological studies have determined that when presented with a list of information, people can remember roughly 7 items (plus or minus 2 ). And that the longer the list is, the better chance people have of forgetting everything. So if you have 12 things to tell people, how can you help them remember?

When people have longer pieces of information to remember, they divide that information into “chunks“ that are easier to remember. Think about the telephone number 867-5309 . If you are trying to memorize that number, is it easier to remember?

8
6
7
5
3
0
9
Or
867
5309

By “chunking” the number you reduce a longer list into 2 items.

When my husband was in university he enrolled in a course that he wasn’t really looking forward to – “The Biology of Invertebrate Animals”, because he knew that there would be a lot of memorization. But his professor did something interesting; at the end of discussing each animal, he would talk jokingly about how they would cook that animal in China (he was Chinese). The humour helped of course, but he was also categorizing the animals in an interesting way “Animals We Eat” vs. “Animal We Don’t Eat”.

In some ways, this categorization was completely artificial – students weren’t tested on Chinese recipes after all. But usefully, it provided an interesting category system that helped students to “chunk” the information and retain it. Even now, many years later, my husband can recall invertebrate information because of this categorization system.
By organizing your information using LATCH, you help your audience group it into meaningful chunks, so they will retain more information.


[†] On a bad day, a very short list.

[‡] Now you have the Tommy Tutone song stuck in your head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON56AKnqbog