Acts of Kindness

One of my favorite things about the holidays are the ads that sometimes cut through the clutter of sale/save messaging – and actually touch your heart.  The latest is the Apple’s ‘Misunderstood’ in which we see a slightly awkward teen embracing his iPhone as he makes his way through a family holiday – only to later learn that he’s actually been filming stolen moments with the family, which he then cuts into a sweet, sentimental video for his loved ones to watch to watch as they open their presents.

You can watch it here. If it doesn’t make you cry – or at least tear up a little –  there’s something wrong.

But then I read that Business Insider conducted a poll and found that many felt that ad could have been stronger if it had “showcased Apple’s hardware more.” I completely disagree.  The value of this ad – and in fact all acts of kindness – is that they emotionally engage those who witness them, and thereby promote others to do the same.  So, if one kid watches that ad and comes away realizing that his phone could be a tool for ‘change’ – not just texting or Candy Crush – and could be used to engage and motivate people, then I would say that the ad was an overwhelming success.

CannedFoodAnd these acts of kindness don’t have to just be media-based.  This week, totally on their own and without any formal ‘corporate’ structure, Banyan staff in St. Louis and Atlanta raised enough money for local food banks to feed nearly 5,000 families over the holidays.

In the midst of gift shopping, planning for family get-togethers, and finishing work before the holiday break, they took time out to think of others. To come together, pool their resources, make a plan, and provide help to an unbelievable number of families who are less fortunate than themselves.


In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens writes: “I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their hearts freely…”

As true now as it was then.

I cannot say how proud I am to call my fellow Banyanites friends and colleagues. I am much richer for knowing them.

And just like the Apple ad, this kindness and altruism from the people I work with every day is another moment in which I am reminded that this is the season when we all have the opportunity to open our hearts and our hands, see the world as a place where hope and change are possible, and finally become the kind of people we originally set out to be.

What You Need When You Need It

About a year after I started a new position at Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, I called my old office, DeKalb County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to speak to a former co-worker.

BindersWhen the person who answered heard me identify myself she exclaimed, ”Oh! It’s you! I was hired after you left and took over some of your responsibilities. I found your binders, and they’ve been so helpful!” The binders had all my checklists and step-by-step instructions that I’d used to keep up with many of my tasks. It was gratifying to hear that what I’d felt was mostly evidence of my poor memory turned out to be a great tool for transitioning a new employee. It even led to unexpected appreciation from a stranger!

A Harvard professor, Atul Gwande found that introducing a surgery checklist in eight hospitals reduced errors and possibly saved lives. He reports in his book, The Checklist Manifestothat the hospitals had 47 percent fewer deaths after the implementation of the checklist.

Even if you aren’t changing jobs or performing life-saving surgery, job aids like checklists can improve performance and save time—especially when someone needs them most.

Helpful job aids include:handwashing

  • List of phone numbers on your desk
  • Flowchart to help you identify next steps in a task
  • Form to document an incident at work
  • A short how-to video

At Banyan, the projects I contribute most to are training, both in-person and online. Training can be a great way to address a number of goals, but it can be easy to overlook some of the simpler and more cost-effective ways to bridge a performance gap or even augment the effectiveness of training once the learner is back at work.

When we are considering strategies with a client, we always want to consider the most effective use of resources. Sometimes, a job aid that provides the right information in a convenient format is that solution.

Twitter + Government

I recently had the opportunity to attend a social media session hosted by the Small Business Government Communicators Network in Washington, DC.twitter-logo

Banyan joined the network not too long ago, and it was my first opportunity to meet others involved in the group. I was intrigued by the session, which was hosted by Peter Greenberger, Twitter’s director of sales in the city. I mean, if you’re going to learn about the best ways to put Twitter to use in the government, stands to reason he’d be a guy worth listening to.

Advertising Best Practices

Given his title, a crash course on native advertising—promoted accounts, tweets and trends—was to be expected.

There’s no question well-executed promotions can increase your reach: you can expect 1-3 percent stronger engagement rates for promoted tweets compared to 0.07 percent for standard display.



While it’s no surprise that mobile continues to be the way many people access their social media networks, it was interesting to learn that one in six new Twitter users start on a mobile device, while 60 percent of active Twitter users access the platform via a mobile device (more than Facebook and LinkedIn).

Insider Info

Peter also had some interesting “insider” stats to share: turns out 100 percent of US Senate members are on Twitter, but only 412 of 435 US House members use the platform (though it probably won’t be long before it’s 100 percent across the board).


Best Practices

Sessions like these provide a great opportunity to learn new tactics, compare recommended strategies to what you’re already doing, and be reminded of best practices:

  • Enhance your profile
  • Leverage exclusive content
  • Provide a call to action
  • Communicate in real time
  • Encourage conversations
  • Utilize rich media
  • Keep content fresh, ask questions, respond to people

Oh, and did you know that actually spelling out “retweet” instead of using “RT” increases the odds that others will share your tweet? I’m already testing this theory—time will tell if it makes a difference. #curious

How do you put Twitter to work for your company or campaign? We’d like to know!