Roles Explained

RolesRoles are an essential component of ProposalSpace. Not only do they allow for greater flexibility when collecting proposal information, they also make certain functionality possible, like the Advanced Scheduling Module’s conflict checker.

Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most misunderstood and misused features.

So what are roles?

Put simply, they are how individuals are associated with a proposal. Some examples include:

  • Presenter
  • Co-Presenter
  • Primary Contact
  • Speaker
  • Contributor
  • Nominee

For each role you create, you get to define the following:

  • Name: What you want to call the role (e.g. “Primary Contact”)
  • Description: An explanation of the role (e.g. “The Primary Contact is responsible for all communications regarding the proposal.”)
  • Minimum: The minimum number of individuals required for the role (“0” makes the role optional)
  • Maximum: The maximum number of individuals allowed for the role (“0” allows an unlimited number)
  • Role Form: Each role has its own form for collecting information about individuals added to that role (e.g. name, organization, and bio). Note that this form is different than the main submission form, which is intended for core information about the proposal, like the abstract and learner objectives.

For example, let’s say you are collecting speaker proposals for a conference and want each proposal to have a primary contact, a lead presenter, and up to five additional presenters. Traditionally, that meant the submission form had eight sections: one for the main proposal information (title, abstract, etc.), another for information related to the primary contact (name, organization, etc.), another for the lead presenter, and five more for additional presenters. All those sections took up a lot of space, especially if a proposal did not include any additional presenters.

With ProposalSpace, you just create three roles as follows:

  • Primary Contact, with a minimum of 1, a maximum of 1, and a form with questions for name, organization, and email address
  • Lead Presenter, with a minimum of 1, a maximum of 1, and a form with questions for name, organization, email address, bio, and speaking experience
  • Additional Presenter, with a minimum of 0, a maximum of 5, and a form with questions for name, organization, email address, and bio

With this setup, questions related to a role are not displayed unless the author chooses to add someone to that role.

RolesOne way to think of roles is as sheets of paper that get attached to the main proposal to compose a complete submission. The image on the right shows hows the various components from the example above are related, with the Main Proposal Form (which displays the core proposal questions, like title and abstract) and the Primary Contact, Lead Presenter, and Additional Presenter forms (which display role-specific questions, like name and organization). The key is that the role forms are only added to the main submission if needed, keeping the overall submission uncluttered.

Role ScreenshotThe screenshot to the right shows how the roles mentioned above would appear in a proposal. (Click the image for a larger view.) Only when an author clicks one of the “Add…” buttons does the system display the questions for that role… again, keeping the overall submission uncluttered.

A couple of other important things to keep in mind about roles:

  1. Every call must have at least one role. You may call it anything you like and even make it optional, but there must be at least one role. (Typically we see organizers use “Primary Contact” when there is only one role for a call.)
  2. The system does not assign anyone to a role automatically, so even if you create a role for something like “Submitter”, that person would still need to be added by someone working on the proposal. (The system does track who creates each proposal, but only displays that person’s name and organization from their profile.)

I hope this helps to explain what roles are and how to use them effectively. If you have any questions—about roles or anything else—feel free to contact us. Also, we offer free evaluations for every call as part of our unlimited support, so if you ever want feedback about how your roles are set up, just ask. We’re here to help!

Facebook Algorithm Change Can Benefit Associations

This week, Facebook changed their algorithm for users’ News Feeds, making it more difficult for “fake news” and click-bait links to gain traction on the social-media platform. According to an article on TechCrunch, Facebook will now detect and downrank links and headlines that include any of the following:

  • Exaggerative & sensational headlines
  • Headlines that withhold information
  • Misleading content

One key element of the change is that Facebook will no longer rely on the source of the offending content, instead evaluating each post individually. The update will be available to identify fake news in the top 10 languages that Facebook accounts use.

So what does this mean for your association? When writing headlines, especially for content that might be shared on Facebook, make sure they are clear and honest. By doing so you may drastically increase your page’s organic reach.

This change may also be a great advantage for associations advertising on Facebook to boost their own posts, links, or page. One of the primary reasons why the social media giant is making this change is to re-establish consumer trust in their News Feeds, which is prime real estate for paid ads. By withholding click bait or fake content from users, Facebook will build trust with its base and advertisers can count on more ad clicks and legitimate referral traffic.

Session Titles That Shine

An abstract’s title, description, and learning objectives are the core of every presenter’s “sales pitch” to both reviewers and attendees. However, very few presenters have an understanding of how to sell their presentation using even the most basic marketing techniques. Perhaps as a result, 95% of meeting organizers report having to rewrite speakers’ submissions1.

ProposalSpace allows admins and review chairs to edit submissions directly or return them for editing and resubmission.

While organizers may have the best intentions when adding a little shine to a session, they also run the risk of overdoing it and promising more than a presenter can deliver, which in turn can disappoint the audience. So ideally, presenters would submit proposals that need little or no editing at all.

To help accomplish that, here are some tips for presenters (and organizers) when crafting session titles. (We’ve decided to focus on the title because it serves as the “hook” for drawing in a reader’s interest and leading them to the description and objectives.)

  • Keep it short. Attendees often skim over session titles to see if anything grabs their attention. A shorter title is simply more eye-catching. To check your title length, consider how easily you could use it to invite someone in passing to attend your session. If you cannot get it all out in a few seconds, then continue editing.
  • Target it to a specific audience. When writing your title, you should have a specific audience in mind. Craft your title in such a way as to convey what that group can expect to get from the session.
  • Employ intrigue. Spark the reader’s curiosity by teasing a short list, privileged knowledge, or a personal story.

Tell us what you think! If you ‘ve had particular success with title writing/editing, then share with us in the comment section below or on twitter (@proposalspace).

1Cobb, Jeff, Jeff Hurt, Dave Lutz, Sarah Michel, and Celisa Steele. “The Speaker Report: The Use of Professional and Industry Speakers in the Meetings Market.” Velvet Chainsaw. http://velvetchainsaw.com/pdf/Velvet-Chainsaw-Tagoras-2013-Speaker-Report_v2.pdf.

Invitations

Here’s a quick tip for call admins when adding an admin, review chair, or reviewer:

Use a complete email address (e.g. “harry.potter@hogwarts.edu”) to search for the user’s account. That way, the user will be added immediately and won’t have to confirm the action.

If instead you search using all or part of a user’s name (e.g. “Potter”) or a partial email address (e.g. “harry.potter”), the user will have to confirm the action before actually being added.

In case you’re wondering, we added this step to strengthen privacy on the site. We figure if you don’t know someone’s full email address, we shouldn’t display it to you until they say it’s OK to do so. If, however, you already know someone’s full email address, there’s really no reason to require an additional step. In that case, we just send them an email letting them know they’ve been added.

Snapchat Pro Tips

Snapchat has changed the way we think about video content on social media but has been challenging for many associations to understand and use for their audiences, while also being worth their time, energy, and resources invested into the app. Even still, it’s an important platform for associations to utilize as more people use Snapchat than Twitter, in terms of daily use. Disappearing content and unedited video are extremely popular with millennials, and Facebook, the most popular social media platform, predicts video content is the future of online engagement.

Here are the best practices we’ve found to work for associations:

  • Make A Story. While sending individual snaps would be an excellent way to engage users, creating snaps specifically for your story is a much more effective use of your time and energy. Your Snap story could feature a keynote speaker, poster presentations, networking event, or even lunch! Just make sure your story has an attention-grabbing start, solid narrative, and concise conclusion that drives your overall content strategy. In short, create a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It is also important to note that quality is more important than quantity.
  • Let Someone Else Take Over. A Snapchat takeover is when you give your account information to someone else and they promote your brand or product in a new, unique way. Oftentimes, you are able to reach a much larger audience than you might otherwise reach by having an “influencer” involved. If you can identify a popular social media influencer, with commonality to your brand/industry, then you should consider having them promote your conference or event. Many influencers will work in exchange for free conference registration or their annual membership. Of course, they are also willing to market your function for a paycheck! If unable to identify a popular media influencer or pay one, then consider having different association staff/interns, members, or volunteers do a platform take over. (And don’t forget to change your account password after each takeover is complete.)
  • Create Geofilters. Geofilters are an excellent way to get your business in front of people and create brand engagement on Snapchat. They allow a great opportunity for users to engage with your brand who would otherwise not do so!

Snapchatps_snapchat_asae-01To the left is an example of a Geofilter ProposalSpace created and ran during the 2016 ASAE Annual Conference in Salt Lake City.

Is your association on Snapchat? Comment with a great snap you’ve saved and any additional ideas you have!

Conference Live Streaming

Posting pictures after an event can engage your attendees once they return home, but what about engaging a larger audience—both present and remote—during your event? Here are some sites/apps that make it easier than ever to broadcast events, like major announcements, keynotes, breakout sessions, and panel discussions.

Periscope (Twitter)

Periscope LogoIf you’re on Twitter then you might have seen or heard of Periscope, an app that connects with Twitter to broadcast live video from from a smartphone, GoPro, or even a drone. Named the Apple App Store’s Best App of 2015, Periscope reinvigorated social platforms to focus on live content and even classify it higher in their algorithms. According to their website, Periscope is “the closest thing to teleportation” available.

Audience feedback can be sent to the content creator in real time via comments and heart images, which disappear after a few moments after appearing in the lower, right-hand corner of the video. Moderation of chat spam and abuse is managed by the audience watching each broadcast. Videos can either be saved indefinitely (now the default) or automatically deleted 24 hours hours after broadcast.

How to use Periscope for a speaker session:

  • Send out a tweet letting people know that you are broadcasting live. (Be sure to use the conference/session topic or location in the title of your broadcast).
  • Respond to in-app audience questions as they are asked, or write them down and have the speaker answer them at the end of the session.

Facebook Live

facebook-live-logo-vector-download-400x400Leave it to Facebook to quickly adopt a social trend and work incredibly hard to outdo other platforms. With Facebook Live, you can broadcast from your phone and your friends can comment and react using Facebook Reactions that slide across your video. Once you go live on Facebook, the platform’s algorithm places your video at the top of your friends’ news feeds, which can be huge for your live content and page. Once you end your live streaming session the video will be available for playback on the profile page of the account you used to film. You can even “boost” the video after it has been posted to increase views, likes, and comments.

How to get the most out of Facebook Live:

  • Thank users as they join and try to answer as many comments as possible.
  • Include as many social-media influencers into your stream as possible (with interviews, Q&A with live viewers, networking session footage, etc.) and tag them.
  • Use your conference hashtag in the title of the broadcast.
  • Keep it shorter. Facebook prioritizes live video higher in their news-feed algorithm, so unlike Periscope, many of your viewers probably were not expecting to see your content when they signed on. Keep it short to keep their attention.

Youtube Connect (Google)

YouTubeYouTube has been the internet’s video giant for years. Owned by Google, it makes sense for them to get in on all the live-broadcasting action. Live broadcasting is definitely not new on YouTube (it’s been available to certain users since 2011), but Google has been working to build out increased live streaming functionality for its app to compete with Periscope and others. This app update has not yet been released, but many are counting on it to up the ante for other live streaming apps.

How to increase engagement using YouTube:

  • Classify your videos into public playlists per conference/event.
  • You can record for longer periods of time on YouTube and still maintain viewership (unlike Facebook).
  • Embed the video into your own website.

We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to live-streaming products, focusing on the ones we think will get you the highest engagement for your time and energy. There are plenty of other apps out there, though, many of which might be a better fit. Leave a comment and share with us if you use something else that has brought you great results or have additional questions about live streaming.

Making the Best of a PR Disaster

We all hope to avoid PR issues when planning a large conference or event. Although we hate to admit it, some things are out of our control and even the best-laid plans can go awry. We might find ourselves having worked on an event for years, only to get blindsided by a controversy, like union strikes or North Carolina’s recent HB2 legislation, which forbids LGBT anti-discrimination protections. Amid all the uproar, meeting organizers can suddenly find themselves having to choose between moving a meeting or taking a hit on attendance.

It is understandable that organizers are worried about attendance. In response to HB2, a handful of states and localities have announced bans on non-essential travel for employees to North Carolina. Such bans probably won’t affect most types of events, but for events that rely heavily on public-sector attendees, like the Bus & Paratransit Conference of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), the effects could be huge.

Official travel bans may not be an organizer’s only worry. High Point Market, the state’s largest annual economic event, stated in a press release that the law meant “hundreds and perhaps thousands of our customers will not attend Market this April”, causing “significant economic damage to High Point Market and the North Carolina economy.”

Neither APTA nor High Point Market can relocate their meeting—APTA for contractual reasons and High Point Market for geographical reasons. Other groups, however, have decided to take that route. The Charlotte News & Observer reported that as of April 21, over 20 groups had dropped plans for holding meetings in the city. (One group, B Lab, has provided an insightful accounting of the process they used to come to their decision.)

Whether deciding to move your event or stay put, here are some Pro Tips to help you handle a PR disaster that threatens to affect attendance:

  • Acknowledge the issue. It is unprofessional to bury your head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. Make a public statement acknowledging the situation, apologizing when necessary, and explaining what actions have been and will be taken in response.
  • Clarify your position. If your business or organization has an official position on the issue—even if that position is neutrality—state it clearly. If the issue is important enough to your organization or attendees, consider taking a more active role supporting allied organizations and/or encouraging attendees to do the same.
  • Focus on what change you can control. If possible, work with the event venue to get around the controversy—for example, by making bathrooms gender-neutral—even if just for your event.
  • Support those who can’t attend. If the purpose of your event is information distribution or creative exchange, then consider how you can do so via the internet. Consider bolstering your online content by live streaming, live blogging, and live tweeting sessions and keynotes. Webinars and podcasts are also good options. (Note that podcasts can be offered for free or for a download fee.) All these options allow for information distribution to still occur even if your physical attendance is lower than originally anticipated. If membership is a focus, offer it and benefits at a promotional rate during the conference and for a short time before/after online to incentivize new memberships. You could also offer additional online content throughout the event in a “member only” section of your website for those who cannot participate in person.

We would love to hear from you about additional strategies for maintaining good face in light of a PR disaster. Has your association or business been affected by a controversy that was beyond its control? Share your experiences or ideas in the comments.

Using Emojis

If you’ve received a text message recently, chances are pretty high it included an emoji. Emojis, which evolved from the simple emoticon, have become so popular that the Oxford English Dictionary named the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji (?) its 2015 “word” of the year. (One of the main reasons they cited was a dramatic increase in the use of emojis.)

Facebook Reactions

The emoji has even taken over social-media platforms. Facebook has long had a “Like” button, allowing users to easily react to posts without having to type comments. However, users have long requested a “Dislike” button for content that they don’t feel comfortable liking. Rather than just add a “Dislike” option, Facebook chose to include the more expansive Facebook Reactions. Facebook has allowed stickers in their Messenger product for a long time, but the launch of Reactions has started a shift in the user experience.

On Twitter, branded hashtag emojis are gaining a lot of traction with both brands and users. (For those who don’t know, a branded emoji is added to a tweet by using a specific hashtag.) Twitter made these extremely popular when they automatically added #StarWarsEmojis to people’s tweets when “Starwars: The Force Awakens” was released. Twitter has also had success with branded emojis for the #AMAs. The platform saw an extreme increase in online engagement for both topics, all because they incorporated emojis.

So can emojis help an association better engage members? Absolutely! AssociationsNow has blogged about how emojis can help associations with advocacy work and having conversations about diversity. Emojis are also a perfect way to engage millennials.

Here are some tips for using emojis as part of your association’s social-media strategy:

  • Use emojis in Facebook posts and tweets, either to convey emotion (?) or to save space (like using ? instead of the word “calendar” or ❤️ in place of “love”).
  • Start associating an emoji with your organization. For example, ? could be used for the Financial Planning Association and ☕️ for the National Coffee Association.
  • Don’t overwhelm your readers with emojis. A good rule of thumb is to use three or fewer. Emojis are all about simplicity, so keep it short and sweet.
  • Sneak them into “real life” at your events—on stickers, keychains, or other “swag”, or by making them edible (think cookies, cakes, cupcakes, suckers, etc.).

One small note: Emojis can appear slightly different across platforms, so what you see on a Mac might not be exactly the same on an Android or Windows product.

Take a minute and share with us the emoji you think works best for your association. Remember to keep it short and sweet! ?

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Charts & Graphs

Charts are charts, right? Wrong.

You have a lot of decisions to make when creating a chart, most of which seem benign. But some of those decisions can make a critical difference between providing insight into the underlying data and causing the reader to draw the wrong conclusions.

To illustrate just three of the ways charts can be made to be misleading, check out Ravi Parikh post on How to Lie with Data Visualization over at Heap’s Data Blog.

New Merge Fields in Messaging Module

Three new merge fields are now available in the Messaging Module:

  • proposal.id, which displays the ID for each proposal.
  • proposal.datetime, which displays the date/time assigned to each proposal in the Scheduling Module. (If no date/time is assigned for a proposal, the system displays “N/A”.)
  • proposal.location, which displays the location assigned to each proposal in the Scheduling Module. (If no location is assigned to a proposal, the system displays “N/A”.)

If you have any suggestions for other fields you would like to include in your messages, just let us know!