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What's Working Here? What Isn't? Seeking Feedback on the Site

Massageprofessionals.com is approaching its first anniversary. I'll be writing an article to this effect for the July/August issue of ABMP's member newsletter, Different Strokes, and as I'm sitting here in a coffee shop suffering writer's block, it occurred to me that I should actually use the site, like I'm always coaching others to do, and get feedback directly from the experts. That'd be you. Some insights I'm seeking:
  • Why did you join Massageprofessionals.com?
  • Are your expectations being met?
  • What do you love about this site?
  • What's not working?
  • What can we do to make it better/more relevant to practitioners?
  • What do you think would inspire others to join?
  • Other comments, thoughts, insights?

Thanks for your input! You guys rock!


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I misunderstood about the sharing of CE information. I apologize. Thanks so much for informing me about the proper protocol for sharing CE information on this site, Lara.

Lara Evans Bracciante said:
Great suggestion regarding the use of other social media! Thanks for that, as well as the rest of your feedback. Very helpful!

Regarding the CE comment, you are more than welcome to discuss CE offerings on your page, in your blog, and in the CE Group. We just ask that you don't list pricing, or send out mass messages about your programs. In regards to the paid advertising spot in the right sidebar, this is an open spot for qualified advertisers. If you are interested, please feel free to contact our Ad Sales Manager, Jodi Hardee, jodi@abmp.com.

Thanks for your insights, Ariana!

Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB said:
Ariana's Responses to Lara's Questions

* Why did you join Massageprofessionals.com? To network about professional massage therapy and to find out about continuing education opportunities. It's a great site and I love it very much. You're doing a wonderful job.
* Are your expectations being met? I would say, yes, my expectations are being met and exceeded most of the time. This group provides wonderful opportunities for learning, growing and networking.
* What do you love about this site? I love the feeling of community and the easy connectivity with people around the world. I've recommended the site to over a thousand massage therapists. That's how much I believe in it.
* What's not working? Three things that aren't working: (1) We are not able to find out about any CE classes other than those offered by ABMP. We feel that this exclusion of everyone except ABMP is detrimental to the entire population of the site. For example if a person is interested in studying oncology massage and would like to know about M.D. Anderson Hospital's program and Tracy Walton's program, it is impossible to search for information on this site because ABMP has the exclusive on providing information regarding CE classes and sharing information about CE classes is prohibited on this site by ABMP. (2) We can't communicate via group e-mails with people in our friends list if the list is over a certain number of people. Many of us did not know that there was a low limit on the number of friends we can communicate with via group e-mails and, once we had many friends in our list on this site, we suddenly discovered that we could not communicate with anyone via group e-mails because we were over the limit. (3) A few technical issues come up from time to time that could be better addressed. For example, for some people it is impossible to upload images. I had that problem months ago and it is still an ongoing issue.
* What can we do to make it better/more relevant to practitioners? It is very relevant to practitioners. I love the fact that the people who participate in this site are professionals who share a common interest. It is an amazing site. You've done a wonderful job of bringing the community of bodyworkers and massage practitioners together.
* What do you think would inspire others to join? Follow Massage Magazine's lead and when something interesting happens on the site or when there is a particularly relevant posting, share it on other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace.
* Other comments, thoughts, insights? I notice that Les left Facebook and said we could communicate with him on this site; however, I have not received any messages or postings from him via this site. I miss hearing from him. I find his posts informative, interesting and relevant.

You guys rock!

Ariana Vincent
Ariana Institute
No problem! Have a beautiful day.

Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB said:
I misunderstood about the sharing of CE information. I apologize. Thanks so much for informing me about the proper protocol for sharing CE information on this site, Lara.

Lara Evans Bracciante said:
Great suggestion regarding the use of other social media! Thanks for that, as well as the rest of your feedback. Very helpful!

Regarding the CE comment, you are more than welcome to discuss CE offerings on your page, in your blog, and in the CE Group. We just ask that you don't list pricing, or send out mass messages about your programs. In regards to the paid advertising spot in the right sidebar, this is an open spot for qualified advertisers. If you are interested, please feel free to contact our Ad Sales Manager, Jodi Hardee, jodi@abmp.com.

Thanks for your insights, Ariana!

Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB said:
Ariana's Responses to Lara's Questions

* Why did you join Massageprofessionals.com? To network about professional massage therapy and to find out about continuing education opportunities. It's a great site and I love it very much. You're doing a wonderful job.
* Are your expectations being met? I would say, yes, my expectations are being met and exceeded most of the time. This group provides wonderful opportunities for learning, growing and networking.
* What do you love about this site? I love the feeling of community and the easy connectivity with people around the world. I've recommended the site to over a thousand massage therapists. That's how much I believe in it.
* What's not working? Three things that aren't working: (1) We are not able to find out about any CE classes other than those offered by ABMP. We feel that this exclusion of everyone except ABMP is detrimental to the entire population of the site. For example if a person is interested in studying oncology massage and would like to know about M.D. Anderson Hospital's program and Tracy Walton's program, it is impossible to search for information on this site because ABMP has the exclusive on providing information regarding CE classes and sharing information about CE classes is prohibited on this site by ABMP. (2) We can't communicate via group e-mails with people in our friends list if the list is over a certain number of people. Many of us did not know that there was a low limit on the number of friends we can communicate with via group e-mails and, once we had many friends in our list on this site, we suddenly discovered that we could not communicate with anyone via group e-mails because we were over the limit. (3) A few technical issues come up from time to time that could be better addressed. For example, for some people it is impossible to upload images. I had that problem months ago and it is still an ongoing issue.
* What can we do to make it better/more relevant to practitioners? It is very relevant to practitioners. I love the fact that the people who participate in this site are professionals who share a common interest. It is an amazing site. You've done a wonderful job of bringing the community of bodyworkers and massage practitioners together.
* What do you think would inspire others to join? Follow Massage Magazine's lead and when something interesting happens on the site or when there is a particularly relevant posting, share it on other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace.
* Other comments, thoughts, insights? I notice that Les left Facebook and said we could communicate with him on this site; however, I have not received any messages or postings from him via this site. I miss hearing from him. I find his posts informative, interesting and relevant.

You guys rock!

Ariana Vincent
Ariana Institute
I had closed comments for this discussion because the article that originally inspired the post is written and now with the editor, so I didn't want anyone to feel like they were excluded from the article, when in fact it's simply that I hit my deadline. But I received a direct message with some great feedback. so I'm opening up comments again.

Please note: From this point forward, specific quotes will not be included in the Different Strokes article, as that's already a done deal. Regardless, the feedback is still, of course, very useful. So if you just want to let me know, by all means! Let me know!

thanks!
Lara

the site has been great! I have met so many new and wonderful colleagues here and re-connected with old colleagues .
It's been interesting to read the forums etc and learn about classes or just catch up with friends!

Gratitude to all those that contribute in any way.

It has been wonderful for networking, learning what is going on in the industry (thank you Laura Allen and others),
listening to funny stories that are shared, ethical issues etc.

Susan, that is a great idea. A monthly case study?

Why did I join? Because I saw it as a great resource to connect with my colleagues . And...because Mike Hinkle suggested! Go Mike!

What do I love? Making New Friends. Hearing what people are up to, why they entered the massage field, opinions, etc.

I probably would not have been aware of the many different things happening from state to state, MTBOK etc had it not been for this forum.

As a continuing education provider, I have attracted students through this network too! Much Gratitude for this venue too.

What's not working?
I noticed people are duplicating groups - perhaps a way to link them?
Many of the topics also seem to repeat themselves, however, I guess that is bound to happen with newcomers.

Thanks again for this great network!
Ditto ! Ty, very well put. Travis

Ty Capuano said:
Hi Lara -

I stumbled across a small notice about this site in December 09 and after looking thru it initially thought "how cool is that", a site for therapists! After reviewing all the threads/ groups I was hooked. I love to see the same situations that I have run into, and many that I have not, answered in many different ways. They are good to mull over and it is fun to throw in my own experience when applicable. I love that therapists from around the world are on this site and that I can "friend" them. Where else can I post/chat with therapists from Australia, India, Canada, Ireland, England and all over the USA? There are even more countries represented on here now than before. So great to welcome them and read their comments. I love that even when we disagree on a topic everyone is civil and that there are many different senses of humor on these pages. Laughter is the best medicine. I love that when I was unhappy with an ad I could post that up and see every one's responses - pro and con. I love that when anyone puts up a thread mentioning energy work it will get lot's of interesting replies. I love that I have re-vamped some of my own thinking after reading some threads. I never gave much thought to research until recently, now I am curious about it. I love that the therapists who have been around a while can remember the joy of being a new therapist and that both old and new can learn from each other. I love that some of the leaders in this industry have groups and threads here. I wish they all did.

As to the not working - I wish I could save drafts when writing a post. An easier way to look at older threads and groups. How to inspire other ?- they just need to know it is here. Relevance - for the most part it usually is.

So Lara - Thank You for re-opening this page so I could post that up. I love this site as it reminds me daily why I love my profession. So a huge THANK YOU from me to you!
Why did you join Massageprofessionals.com?
I joined to share and to learn from others.

Are your expectations being met?
Yes. There are some great people here with excellent insights and experience.

What do you love about this site?
The knowledge base that comes as result of the cumulative years of experience that the folks here bring to the site. The diverse educational backgrounds and diverse perspectives. The opportunity to be part of that mix.

What's not working?
There are many in our profession who could be contributing but are not. There are well known authors, others who make their living by selling products and services to the profession, employers of massage therapists, etc.. I am sure they have their reasons, and they are probably good reasons. We need to ask them/invite them to join.

What can we do to make it better/more relevant to practitioners?
There is a good variety of information to be relevant to everyone.

What do you think would inspire others to join?
The site is currently open to general public. Anyone can search for a name, search for a topic, and follow a discussion. If the site were closed to only the registered people users t may force more people to join (I understand "inspire" and "force" are not the same:))

Other comments, thoughts, insights?

I don't know how practical this would be, but I would love to see some more controls on this site. I think they could create a safer environment and may inspire more people to join and contribute.

- Screen the users. The site is called massage professionals, so I don't know how the post selling xanax and other drugs appears every morning, or the guy who lists "Swedish Massage" as his school advertises their website and gets to mingle with the therapists here. I see the following possible categories for users: massage students, massage professionals, massage employers, massage business (selling services to employers and therapists), and massage schools/educators. If someone is not in those categories, they should not be here.

- Allow authors to edit/remove their posts. Currently it seems that only the originator of a discussion can delete posts. I think everyone should be able to delete their posts. To contribute, people need to feel that they are in a safe place. From time to time there are heated discussions among participants. Sometimes those discussions are necessary because they represent different viewpoints in our field and sometimes those viewpoints are difficult to reconcile. People should think before they post, but people are people and sometimes they don't.
Again, ditto Ty. As a relatively new therapist (starting my 4th year) the advice and insights found on this site are invaluable. I have not been a member for very long, and have no complaints, I love this place!

The only suggestion that I can think of that has not already been mentioned is to have for sale and wanted sections. Another forum has this and members can list books, dvds, videos and other massage related items that are for sale or that they need. This is a tremendous help for those wishing to expand their knowledge and build their library of reference materials but have limited financial resources.
Lara,
It's a great resource for all the reasons already covered by the other posts here.
I have got so much info on what is going on from a global perspective, it has been great. Sometimes we get caught up in our own wee world and this site has been a way to get out of that mode, which is a good thing. At least, it has been for me. Thank you so much for putting the site together.

The only thing that kind of irks me is the formation of so many groups in topics that overlapped. Plus, there's the lack of encapsulation with the use of threads by the users within the groups. So there'd be a long, long thread, that's going backwards on a wall which would have been better suited for a thread (I know you've no control over that - it's basic OC protocol which users aren't following). So what can you do about so many groups? Maybe the group formations should be moderated? But then again maybe people would think that unfair? Just throwing ideas out there.

The other thing that could be changed was the fact that I couldn't edit my blog post comments, so if I'd made a major editing mistake, I'd to copy it, delete it and then repost. But maybe that is fixed by now (I haven't tested it). It only happened for the blog post comments - the discussion forum allowed post editing.

I noticed that the site goes through "waves" of usage. Just out of curiosity, I sometimes wonder about how many unique visitors are viewing a thread. I don't know if you can let us know, but I'd like to know how many people (i.e. lurkers) are looking at the more interesting threads (the ones that get the heated discussions). I know on other forums they can show that data. Any chance of letting us see it even from the viewpoint of "views" and a number attached to the thread? It may even be data that might be useful to someone somewhere!!!

I'll end by saying that you are doing the profession a service in my view. Life is all about learning and that's definitely one thing I've gained from this site. I've learned a lot and for that I say a big heartfelt THANK YOU. And thanks to ABMP for putting the site together. It has been a big success. Well done!
Hi Lara,
I love this site because it is unique and everyone is equally" at home " here. I joined it to learn from others and it has been invaluable in that respect.I try to read all of the forums and blogs as well as my spheres of interest. Thank you for this wonderful contribution.
Hey Lara,
When I first discovered this site,I was so happy.People were friendly and helpful and open minded,it was such a fun site.
The thing that kinda put a damper on it for me was when the shrinks decided to make some kind of case study out of the modalities that they had decided they didn't believe in.That pretty much so ruined how safe I felt about talking and sharing my own beliefs .
I also believe someone needs to be a greeter for the site to help the newbies not make the same mistakes we all made in the beginning.Mike, Darcy and Travis took that on ,and to tell you the truth I feel that the site is in need of that ,it seems kind of cold without someone saying "welcome to the site,join lots of groups have fun and if you need any help just ask me."
Anyway,Thank you for asking,I wish you a good day. -Emma
Thank you Emma. I am so glad I have connected with you through this site.

Emma Torsey said:
Hey Lara,
When I first discovered this site,I was so happy.People were friendly and helpful and open minded,it was such a fun site.
The thing that kinda put a damper on it for me was when the shrinks decided to make some kind of case study out of the modalities that they had decided they didn't believe in.That pretty much so ruined how safe I felt about talking and sharing my own beliefs .
I also believe someone needs to be a greeter for the site to help the newbies not make the same mistakes we all made in the beginning.Mike, Darcy and Travis took that on ,and to tell you the truth I feel that the site is in need of that ,it seems kind of cold without someone saying "welcome to the site,join lots of groups have fun and if you need any help just ask me."
Anyway,Thank you for asking,I wish you a good day. -Emma
Tremendously useful feedback. Thank you all. When we were brainstorming this "facebook for massage therapists" idea, I had originally thought it would be a network specific to ABMP members. As a team of us kicked the tires on the idea, Les Sweeney (ABMP pres) stated something along the lines of, "It needs to be open. If it's to truly serve the profession, it needs to be non-partisan and open to all bodyworkers." As my brain shifted to consider the possibility, it suddenly made so much sense. I mention this for two reasons: 1) To note that this site was a brainchild of a team of people at ABMP. I appreciate the platitudes, but I can hardly take credit for it all. 2) Les's insight was key, as the massage community is so much bigger than any single association, modality, school, or any organization, and this message is underscored over and over again here on Massageprofessionals.com.

A side note: The network runs on a Ning platform, which is a pre-existing program. In regards to the technical spec suggestions, I will cull those comments and submit to the Ning development team. We're one of many many networks they run, so I'm not sure how influential we'll be, but if they're hearing it from several of us, they'll perhaps be responsive.

Thanks again, everyone! I so appreciate you!

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