Web 2.0

First Steps in Working Social Media for Your Org Report from Norfolk Had a great time yesterday teaching a social media immersion class to staff members of 25 nonprofit orgs in the Norfolk, VA region. The organizations these folks represented are varied in size, experience, issue focus and more. Yet the group came together as an incredibly productive learning community around social media.

During my intensive prep for the class, I had to do a lot of sifting — through tons of resources, tools and, the greatest challenge, my own perspective and experience with nonprofit use of social media tools.

This palette of tools is way too new, and changing too quickly, for any definitive must-dos across the board. But here are the few should-dos I recommended to yesterday’s students and want to share with you:

  • Set up Google Alerts to listen to what others in the Web 2.0 world (used synonymously w/social media) are saying about your organization.
    • The conversation is already going on without you, so the easiest (and most valuable) first step social media wise is to listen to what’s being said and to jump in as appropriate.
    • Set up Google Alerts (free) to report back to you on your org name, leaders names, issue area, names of key colleague and competitive organizations.
    • When you receive these daily outtakes via email, you’ll get immediate feedback on your org and its programs (enabling almost real-time course correction) and and the environment in which you work.
  • Next, set up a Facebook Cause page for easy micro-fundraising and membership-building by your network to their networks. This takes 30 minutes or less.
    • You’ll need to have either a personal page or an org page (fan page) to do so.
    • Once you have the Cause page up, spread the word that it’s open for business for your network to use to raise donations from their networks.
    • Easy way to start is to suggest birthday campaigns. I asked my Facebook friends to donate what they spend for lunch (or more, if they wanted) to the Community Food Bank of NJ and raised over $500 in a week. Make it easy for your supporters to do the same.
  • Talk, listen and learn about social media, whenever you can. Start here:
    • Beth’s blog — from the inimitable Beth Kanter, writing on nonprofits and social media 24/7
    • Chris Brogan’s blog — Chris makes the social media morass accessible. Read him.
    • We Are Media — comprehensive, well-organized, highly-accessible social media starter kit for nonprofits.
    • Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans –This primer teaches you everything you need to know social media wise in an hour a day for 3 1/2 months.

P.S. How about wishing me happy birthday today by donating the cost of your daily lunch to the NJ Community Food Bank? Give today please — We’ve raised $540 on a pledge of $1,000 — campaign ends March 31st!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Social Media, Social Networking, Web 2.0 | 2 comments
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EnRoute to Norfolk -- Spreading the Word re Putting Social Media to Work to Strengthen Connections & Build CommunityTraveling down to Norfolk, VA today to deliver tomorrow’s all-day boot camp on social media for nonprofits, hosted
by the Academy for Nonprofit Excellence at Tidewater Community College.

First I heard of the Academy was when I was invited down by director guru Lillian Bailey nearly a year ago.  It’s a fantastic resource for area organizations and one that many larger cities can’t boast, funded largely by The Norfolk Foundation, the region’s community foundation.

But prepping for this gig has been a huge adventure.  Particularly because I was somewhat daunted by the task (since I can barely absorb a full-day workshop as a participant, and all-day is a lot of attention to engage), the prep presented as a real opportunity for my own learning.

Here’s some of the fun I’ve had already:

  • Created a first-time podcast, interviewing guest speaker and social media marketing maven Dave Evans.  I was motivated to find ways to integrate other
    • speakers – even if not on the spot – into the day.
    • Just did it and even though it’s not perfect (you’ll see, I’ll publish it here next week) it works fine, and I learned how to make it better next time.
  • Inventoried social media use among nonprofitsin the Norfolk area, a valid sampler of the cross section of nonprofits in other regions.
    • Several are taking the first step social-media wise (most with Facebook) as an experiment – exactly the right
      approach.
  • Surveyed participantsvia SurveyMonkey to get a sense of where they are social media wise and their burning questions.
    • Participants represent a typically-broad range or orgs in terms of issue focus and staff and budget size.
    • IDd two great case studies among participants and will be interviewing them during the workshop, establishing them as local social media mentors.
  • Kick-started learning and community building among workshop participants
    • Knew that to get the intention and focus I needed to keep momentum up for an entire day, we had to start off running.
    • Crafted a pre-req assignment introducing folks to social media tools (most were not using them professionally, a few were personally).
    • Combo of intro to social media tools videos from CommonCraft and asking folks to set up personal LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, connecting with me in both venues and joining the LinkedIn group I set up.
    • Discussion is already flowing, and I’ve gotten to know some of the delightful idiosyncrasies about participants that provide the basis for conversation and perhaps relationships.

Next time you’re up against something daunting, see what you can learn from it starting with step one. Makes it a lot more fun and took the edge off for me!

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every communication, and the tagline lies at its very core!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, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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Branding More of a Challenge Than Ever in a Web 20 World
As the nonprofit landscape gets increasingly complex, money is tighter than ever and your org is discussed on infinite communications channels, it’s more important than ever to brand your organization, programs and campaigns.

When you do so – conveying credibility and value in a way that’s easy to remember and repeat – you’ll build long-lasting relationships with donors, volunteers, members, the media, clients, and more. But it’s more challenging than ever in our Web 2.0 world, where your network ideally spreads the word to their network, often leaving your brand far behind.

I’m taking on this challenge big time — along with four incredible minds in the marketing and fundraising fields — at an NTC conference session this April. But since you should dive into this issue right now, here’s a preview podcast:

Nancy Schwartz in 09NTC, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Hear Me Out 3 Quick Steps to Potent PodcastingAudio, like video, is a fantastic way to enliven your content and engage your network. A podcast is audio  content that can be downloaded automatically as a one-off or on ongoing, as a series, so listeners can view or listen offline. In most cases, the term “podcast” refers to audio content.

Whatever you call it, podcasting is a great communications tool and one that’s easy to produce. Take these three steps to learn how to use podcasting to engage your base and how to produce the casts:

  1. Watch Podcasting in Plain English, a fast (and fast-paced) intro to the ins and outs of podcasting.
  2. Review this fantastic tutorial from Corey Pudhorodsky at 501c3Cast, an online radio show for nonprofit professionals.
  3. Turn to the the We are Media Podcasting Toolbox for ongoing models, guidelines and ideas on podcasting.

I’m dabbling in podcasting for Nancy Schwartz & Company clients, and have just discovered BlogTalk Radio (thanks to Kivi Leroux Miller), a free, easy-to-use online radio tool. Try it out and let me know how it goes.

P. S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on key nonprofit communications topics featured in the Getting Attention e-alert. Subscribe today.

Photo: DeadRedhead, Flickr

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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Your Volunteers Make, Or Break, Web 20 Outreach -- But You Have To Help Them Do It RightYou know an idea is big when it bubbles up from various sources at the same time. That’s what’s been happening today with this one…

Putting social media tools to work should be on your “to-do” list for 2009, although you have to take a quick look at what your communications goals are before jumping in. But even if you don’t see a strong immediate match with your goals, it makes sense to experiment with a tool or two so you’ll be up to speed when the time is right.

At a minimum, start with:

  • Facebook: Both Fan and Cause pages for your organization, and a personal page for you (so you get to know how Facebook works, and doesn’t work). “The Cause will require little upkeep and should spread virally with only a little help, while you can focus on maintaining the Page with current content and information, much like a website, ” says Aaron Palmore with the Human Rights Campaign.
  • LinkedIn: Personal profile for you, and a group for your organization (so other LinkedIn users can affiliate themselves with your org, and you can reach them easily via LinkedIn).

But once your org is using some social media tools, putting your existing volunteer base to work is the best way to build out your social media presence. Here’s how:

  • Ensure your base knows your org is out there on Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr or whatever by:
    • Featuring links on your homepage to those pages and profiles. This is so obvious, but less than 5% of nonprofit orgs using Facebook and other social media do it. Here’s a few that do:
      • Greenpeace, but it’s way at the bottom of the page. Move it up top!
      • Sierra Club, middle of the right column. A bit buried.
    • Including links in your email signature, to your Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles.
  • Empower your volunteers as organizers to build awareness of and engagement in your cause. But you have to feed them the right content and tools to do it right.
    • CauseWired author Tom Watson advised orgs participating in an online discussion today to “free up your content and volunteers to organize in the venues they prefer.”
    • Here’s how the Red Cross provides its volunteers with “tools [they] can use to help [their] online fans, friends and family join the Campaign for Disaster Relief.”

How are you making it easy for your volunteers to organize via Web 2.0? Email me and I’ll share with Getting Attention readers.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Volunteers, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Create a Style Guide to Ensure Audience Recognition & Boost Engagement There’s never enough time when you’re getting your nonprofit’s communications out the door. But when two different spellings of the same word (both correct) are used in a membership drive campaign, or the way your nonprofit is described varies from email to email or letter to letter within a fundraising campaign and your logo appears in different colors and different sizes in different places, your audiences will be confused. Promise.

That’s just not the kind of mistake you can afford to make, especially now when attention spans are harder to get than ever. So I urge you to  define editorial and visual identity standards and publish them in a style guide.

Style guides aren’t sexy, and they aren’t top of mind right now when you’re focused hard on what’s next in uncertain times. But a style guide is a straightforward way to make sure you get the most from your communications for no cost and not much time.

As a bonus, your organization’s style guide will cut confusion big-time among your content-creating colleagues, since all their questions are answered in a single, accessible document. Less waiting on answers, less frustration, double fun.

Here’s an outline of the core editorial and graphic elements to incorporate in your style guide. Digest these guidelines, and with that framework in mind, dive into the 10 nonprofit style guide models ( at bottom of this article).

I challenge you, my friends to dig into these models, harvest what makes sense and put together a guide for your nonprofit before the end of the year. It won’t take long, but will generate substantial return for your organization in 2009 and beyond.

P.S. Yes We Can! When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! 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, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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The Upside of the Downturnis incredible ideas.

I've finally taken off my coat, 1 1/2 hours after arrival at the office.

You see despite my best intentions, I couldn't resist diving right into all the incredible ideas delivered to me over the last 24 hours. (BTW, they come in automatically — once I subscribe to the blogs, sites, etc I want updates from — via my RSS reader. RSS readers are a Web-based, spam-free, quick and efficient way to read news you need. Once you take 3 minutes to watch this video, you'll be ready to set up your own reader.)

I've seen no stats on this, but it really seems that adversity is breeding innovation. The economy is in the toilet with life as we've known it gone for good, but I think it's spurred us to be more creative than ever.

There were so many incredible ideas, guidelines and models in my reader this morning that I've realized I have to share more of them. So I'm launching two new post types — Incredible Ideas and Incredible Minds. Watch the blog for introductions to some of the best minds and ideas out there, which I promise will teach, motivate and inspire you.

My first recommendation: If you don't have your RSS ready to go, do it NOW. My top picks are Google Reader and Bloglines. Then as you come upon blogs, sites or other resources you want to keep up with,  just subscribe to have new content sent to your reader. 

Nancy Schwartz in Incredible Ideas, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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Small Nonprofit Works MySpace to Boost Reach and Impact -- SPARCC, Sarasota FLIn preparing to talk social media to Sarasota, FL nonprofit communicators last October, I looked hard for models of local small-to-medium nonprofits (that was the audience) using Web 2.0 tools in innovative ways.

I’ve found that most folks are hugely intimidated by putting these tools to work for their organizations, even if they use them personally. So mini case studies from similar organizations can shift what’s an abstraction to a tangible, realistic option.

Here’s a simple but extremely effective model from Sarasota’s Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC).

  • SPARCC focuses on prevention of domestic and sexual violence, and support for victims, with staff delivering frequent info sessions at regional middle and high schools.
  • As you can imagine, most kids don’t want to to ask questions on these issues in front of their friends (or enemies). So SPARCC staffer Jessica Hays started to think about how Web 2.0 tools could be used to solve this problem.
  • Since Jessica realized that you have to go where your audiences are (as SPARCC educators do in visiting schools), she pinpointed MySpace as the place to start. SPARCC set up a simple MySpace page and started spreading the word on their school visits. The roving team tells kids that the page (and a new blog) are there, and invites them to friend SPARCC.
  • This valuable extension of support and education services doesn’t take much. Jessica says that the main work after setting up the page is ensuring that her colleagues on the program side answer questions quickly, and updating the page with new songs.
  • The page isn’t beautiful. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty sloppy. But it works, and that’s what counts. Who knows, maybe sloppy works best with middle school and younger high school students. But, the ROI is as clear as the many kids who friend SPARCC, and the questions that pour in (anonymously) via the MySpace page.

Simple, inexpensive and effective. Thanks to Jessica and friends for showing that Web 2.0 doesn’t have to be so hard.

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Change.Gov is Up -- Obama Shares Vision, Plans & Hopes, Wants to Hear Yours

Less than 48 hours after winning the election, the Barack Obama transition team has launched Change.Gov.

Like many sites, it’s a work in progress. For example, I see “content to come” as the only element on the America’s Service Plan page (at 11/6, 7pm eastern).

Frankly, it’s good to see that authenticity. After all, I’m sure there’s not an organization out there that’s  launched a 100% complete, 100% error free site, especially in two days. The way that Obama’s team shows their humanity is engaging. They’re not afraid of being real, like you and me, and that makes us feel closer to them. Win!

I’m also pleased to see continuity in message and values (yes, a President can have a brand), with citizens asked to share our visions, stories and perspectives on key issues. I’ve just submitted my vision and will let you know how it’s followed up. I know it will be.

The Obama team really shines in putting Web 2.0 to work. When I provided my email and zip code (not sure what for), I was thanked for “helping us remake Washington.” And there’s a blog too, complementing the user-generated content (visions, etc.). It’ll be interesting to see who blogs, if comments are accepted, etc. Just another way to read the new administration.

But what’s most exciting is my gut feeling that they’ll move beyond the sharing of visions and stories (which I’m sure will be shared back) and join these folks up with the 3.1 million campaign volunteers of MyBarackObama.com as some kind of mind-blowing citizen advisory board. That’s real community, and I can’t wait to see it take shape.

P.S. Learn how you can craft a compelling story for your org in 8 words or less. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Unique Approaches, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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Obama -- Don't Let Your Hard-Won Community of Hope Die OffSo what happens when a groundbreaking campaign ends?

In Obama's case, I'm not talking about whether the candidate gets into office or not (that's out of any strategist's hands), but what's going to happen to the engaged, interested, willing-to-work/give community he's developed via MyBarackObama.com.

My advice: Keep it going.

These folks, many of whom are campaign/advocacy virgins, are enthused. They've been awakened, or re-awakened, by a passion for change, and by a candidate who's made it possible for them to grow into a community of like-thinkers. And they're well-positioned to do more; for other candidates, for the party, for key issues.

Jesse Helms, a mastermind marketer, transitioned campaign supporters' contact info (phone and address at that point) into what then became a very powerful National Republican Congressional Committee.

Obama, and your organization — at the close of an advocacy or issue campaign — should do the same (not to the NRCC, but to an ongoing community of interest and action around whatever they've responded to initially).

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 comments
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