Social Media

How to Generate Buzz via Social Media Real Life Dos and Don'tsHas this happened to your organization: You experimented with social media tools and found that nothing happened at all?

If so, you’re not alone. One of the most frequent complaints from organizations trying social media out is that after taking the plunge–whether tweeting, blogging or launching a Facebook fan page–nothing happens.

Now there’s help: I partnered with NTEN ED Holly Ross to share guidelines and case studies on using social media tools to build buzz (and reach) via this webinar for the Communications Network. And now the video recording and slide deck are available to you, at no cost.

Our presentation covers the nuts and bolts of social media success, the readiness required to put them to work and a laundry list of dos and don’ts. Although the case studies are about grantmakers, the examples and findings are equally relevant to nonprofit organizations.

I recommend you take an hour out to make sure your social media buzz building is all it can be. Here’s what one participant had to say (and another, just in).

P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Social Media | 1 comment
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Call for Input--Your Stories on Two Key Nonprofit Marketing TopicsI’d like to ask for your help. I’m putting together a presentation and an article, on two different topics, and want to highlight my guidance with real-life stories of nonprofit marketing in action. Here’s what I’m looking for:

1) Are you using a keyword strategy as the first (or only) step to search engine optimization (SEO)?

  • I’m writing an e-update article that guides organizations on how to identify the right keywords for SEO (the first step to getting your org’s online content as far up in search engine results as you can, ideally in the first 10).
  • Seeking mini-case studies of organization’s who are doing this.
  • Please share your story here. It will take 5 minutes, at most! Thanks.

2) Are you integrating your social media outreach into your overall communications strategy?

  • I’m speaking at NTC on this crucial topic, and need some case studies from small or medium organizations to share.
  • Please share your story here. Won’t take more than a few minutes.

If you can’t answer yes to either question, but you know a colleague at another organization who can, please forward this request.

Many thanks!

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 1 comment
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Red Cross' Communications Innovation in Haiti Disaster Relief Effort -- Smart StuffBefore digging into American Red Cross’ stellar communications on the Haitian earthquake relief effort, I urge you to contribute to help the people of Haiti. Here’s a list of several organizations you can give to.

Please spread the word to colleagues, family and friends. Relief needs are huge.

At the moment of, I wanted to tip my hat to the American Red Cross for its immediate and creative communications strategy on the situation in Haiti and fundraising for relief efforts (through its International Response Fund). Their work is a great model for your organization when you’re responding to a crisis or simply handling everyday business.

Here’s how the Red Cross’ communication innovation is boosting the impact of disaster communications:

  1. Pushing out the latest from Haiti via the Disaster Online Newsroom, a blog that makes it easy for Red Cross staffers to get new info out a.s.a.p.
  2. Producing almost-real-time, short-form, easy-to-absorb video on the state of the devastation and the challenges faced by the relief effort. This video was “on the air” (via the blog) five hours after the earthquake struck.
  3. Sharing the Red Cross’ relief strategy as it evolves (via the video). The weak infrastructure in Haiti has resulted in the collapse of many entries into the damaged entries. The Red Cross outlines its preparation in surrounding countries for entering Haiti today.
  4. Making it incredibly easy to give via mobile phone.Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti.
  5. Mobilizing social media tools to spur awareness, giving and conversation in multiple communities. You can follow the Red Cross’ Haitian relief news via Twitter (@RedCross), the org blog and Facebook.

Overall, the Red Cross is doing a great job in utilizing a broad range of communications channels and capitalizing on each one’s strengths.

Other organization’s are also responding effectively. Oxfam has communicated its relief focus (public health, water and sanitation to prevent the spread of waterborne disease) which is very helpful in making giving decisions. Partners in Health, already on the ground in Haiti, is bringing medical assistance and supplies to hardest-hit areas.

P.S. Follow these key strategies to maintain the impact of your org’s communications in the shadow of a disaster like this one.

To learn more about social media and other key communications strategies, get the in-depth articles and case studies featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 comments
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Birthday Wishes -- and Thanks a Million -- to Beth KanterDo you know Beth Kanter, dedicated teacher, experimenter, provocateur, mentor to organizations weaving their way through social media? If not, I suggest you dive into her blog a.s.a.p., because to know her is to learn from her.

Here’s what’s different about Beth – she’s relentless in her pursuit of understanding why and how social media build conversation and connection, and why not. And she shares everything she knows. More than any other single person, she’s leading nonprofits into smart and useful use of social media tools.

Beth even makes her 53rd birthday (today) into an opportunity to learn and to give back — by “friendraising” $530 to send 53 Cambodian children to school. You can give here to make that happen.

Happy birthday, Beth. I love your passion, admire your focus, am inspired by your creativity and benefit constantly from the insights and questions you share. Thank you.

P.S. To learn more about social media and other key communications strategies, get the in-depth articles and case studies featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Best First Step into Social Media -- Monitoring Your Nonprofit's Reputation and IssuesI had the fantastic opportunity of facilitating a conversation (slides here) on this vital topic at the Communications Network conference recently. Here's the problem we were helping participants to solve:

  • The daily volume of content and conversations created in social media channels – blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more – is huge, and growing exponentially. These conversations were always happening but you couldn't hear them. Now you can.
  • You need to know how they cover your organization, leaders, programs, or issues.This is information critical to your decision making.
  • Beyond listening, you need to respond appropriately, in addition to all your other communications responsibilities. 

Making sense of all the content and conversation out there is challenging, but the right listening strategy and tools enables you to filter out the key conversations.  That's the first step in any effective social media strategy.

Here are three guidelines for effective listening from panelists Larry Blumenthal, Director of Social Media Strategy at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Laura Braham, Web Officer at the Open Society Institute; and Holly Ross, Executive Director of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network: 

  • How to use what you hear: 1) To better serve your networks by knowing what they're saying to others and to you — instant audience intelligence; 2) To respond to and/or engage critics; 3) To stay abreast of the latest developments in your area of work.
  • How to overcome objections that listening is unnecessary: Compile and share online conversation on critical keywords and themes over a
    week or a month. Provide some concrete examples of how not listening or
    participating meant that others spoke for (and defined) your organization. Others speaking out is fine, but your organization's voice should be in the mix.
  • What to listen for and best free listening tools: 1) Google Alerts and RSS feeds (searches blogs, websites) for keywords (org name and URL, issues, leadership names, competitive/colleague org names); 2) Twitter search. Here's more guidance on putting together a one-stop listening dashboard.

Very frankly, avoiding these conversations is just putting your head in the sand. If you do, you're missing hugely valuable insights into the world in which you work and the opportunity to respond to them proactively.I urge you to take these guidelines in hand and get listening today.

P.S. Don't miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update.  Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 1 comment
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The Why Behind the Disconnect -- Supporters Embrace Orgs Online, but Don't Give There

A new research report just released by cause branding pros at Cone shows that 79% of those online are behind orgs harnessing email, Web sites and social media to build awareness, grow giving and motivate action. Better yet, 60% of this group has engaged with one or more cause — from forwarding an email to a friend to purchasing a cause-branded product.

That’s all rosy, but here’s the disconnect. Despite this high level of interest and awareness of causes online, action lags far behind. Only 18% of users have donated via online media and/or done more to help the cause in another way.

Evidently, it’s fear that’s keeping them from giving online. That’s what the research tells us. But I think the disconnect is much greater than that.

My take is that online media (especially via social media tools like Facebook and Twitter) is more about friendraising than fundraising at this point. Dollar and gift counts are low now but are growing and will continue to do.

If you buy my take, then focus on building communities, not dollars. If you hit too hard on giving, you’ll alientate some of your org’s friends, and they are hot prospects for future giving. You don’t want to lose them.

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 10 comments
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Get Your Social Media Questions Answered by the Pros -- Gear Up for GivingYou’re invited to participate in Gear Up for Giving, a month-long series of social media tutorials to help you, your colleagues and our base understand how to key social media tools and techniques to build awareness and motivate action for your cause.

These free, live online Q&A sessions — which start September 10th and run until October 1st — are hosted by some of the pros in the field, from Beth Kanter to Katya Andresen and Holly Ross. And, the tutorials are complemented by an encyclopedic resource directory on key social media topics so you’ll be able to easily dig in deeper to topics you want to master.

Get the tutorial dates and times on your calendar today (the first, on 9/10 at 10 eastern, features guru Geoff Livingston). It’s an opportunity too good to miss.

Thanks to the Case and Goldhirsh Foundations, and video production partner See3 Communications, for bringing these no-charge resources to the field. The series is a precursor to the next round of America’s Giving Challenge.

P.S. Don’t miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Social Media | 1 comment
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3 Proven Ways to Make an Impact When Message Control Is Out of Your HandsDog-days-of-summer reminder ==> Effective communications has shifted radically from the megaphone model. These few weeks, when the work world is far quieter than normal, is a great time to begin shifting your org's communications model (if you haven't already). Do it now, so your org isn't left behind.

Here are three strategies to ensure your organization works this all-voices-have-equal-weight conversation to its advantage. For more insights and how-tos, read the full article here.

1. Start To Monitor All Channels, All the Time
Your nonprofit may have once counted on a clipping service to capture print and broadcast coverage of your organization. But what’s equally – if not more – and comments on your org – on websites, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other channels.

2. Build Internal Support For User-Generated Content, Listening, and Active Participation
Once you start to scan, and find what’s out there on your nonprofit, you’ll have some proofs of the importance of nurturing this conversation (it’s going to happen anyway, so you might as well embrace it). It’s likely you’ll need to convince your boss or leadership why to support these conversations, and you have the data to do it.

3. Participate, Participate, Participate – After You Develop a “Conversation Policy”
You’ve got to participate in the online conversations that are important – to show you’re listening, to add your perspective and, sometimes, to set the record straight.

P.S. Here's more on how to listen to online conversation. Dive in!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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They Said What -- How to Listen to Online ConversationWhat happens when control of your nonprofit’s message (frankly, always an illusion) passes from your organization, and the traditional media, to your audiences? Well, you better figure it out quick, because it’s happened.

Most organizations I know have centered their communications strategy around a brand (whether defined as such, or not), expressed through a graphic identity and a narrative one — positioning and key messages. We’ve trained our leaders, staff members and base to keep on message, and ensured that our print and online content does so as well.

That’s the right way to start. But it’s only a start – now more than ever.

This radical change is all about decentralization, and about building real relationships, rather than trying to push your messages out. Here's how to do it.

P. S. Don't forget to enter the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Awards today. Over 1,250 entries already in!

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media | 0 comments
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Q&A Last month's Chronicle of Philanthropy-sponsored online chat (transcript here) on using social media to promote good causes was such an overwhelming success that we've scheduled a Part 2 for Tuesday, June 23rd at noon, eastern. Join in here.

This is your chance to have all your social media questions answered by me or my co-chatters, social media masterminds Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation and Wendy Harman of The American Red Cross.

But ASK RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, if  you want your question answered. Because we plow through questions as they are submitted and last round didn't get anywhere near through the list. So you're invited to submit your social media question now to ensure it's at the top of the list. We'll do our best to answer it on Tuesday.

Don't forget to review the focused, useful answers already available from Part 1 right here!

See you Tuesday, noon eastern!

P.S.  Before your turn your attention to social media, make sure your communications basics are strong. A high-impact organizational tagline is a vital marketing strategy. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Social Media | 1 comment
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