Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

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Talking about Social Marketing…

October 21, 2010

Words matter.  When you want to be accurate, when you want to be persuasive, when you want to be taken seriously– and in the NGO business, is there ever a time when all of those aren’t at play?  A common problem when embarking on new social media efforts is that the words used to plan out strategies and impact never seem… concrete. Measurable.  Predictable.

“Social media” can be such a nebulous and mysterious force when you first approach it– the opposite of what you want when spending your limited time (and money) developing a new form of marketing for your organization.  Is the only answer to have blind faith, charge forward, and hope it all works out with some good results and new supporters after the dust clears?

Errrr… no.  Nor do you necessarily have to shell out loads of cash on hiring a social media expert to do all the thinking for you.

For those looking for a way to start their own meaningful discussion about using social media as a marketing tool, read this fantastic post from gigaom.  Six terms that are specific to the impact and effects of social media, not approximated from another form of marketing which may or may not relate to the machinations of Facebook et al.  It’s a thought-provoking read, and will have your organization thinking about ROI in a more concrete way after just a few minutes!

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3 “US Weekly” Approved Fundraising Sites

June 1, 2010

copyright John Cuneo

My favorite airport guilty pleasure is a copy of US Weekly.  What is a layover without some pictures of Suri Cruise in her latest toddler couture, followed by a fact-light article on one or more Kardashian girls?

Okay, before I destroy all professional credibility here, let me get to my point.  My favorite page in that magazine is a regular feature called “Stars: Just like US!”  It is a collection of photos of celebs doing the most boring things imaginable: drinking coffee in the morning, wearing a hat, picking up kids from school, buying an ice cream, etc.  The point being, I suppose, that famous people have the mundane as well as the high drama in their lives.  They are as human as the rest of us.

That is an appealing thought, though I would use a different barometer to measure how celebrities are just like us.  Stars can use their fame to make the world a better place.  Audrey Hepburn worked with UNICEF to draw attention to disadvantaged communities across the globe; I grew up listening to U2 sing for an end to Apartheid; Princess Di was known for her humanitarian work championing the issues of landmine banning and help for AIDS victims– all this before Angelina hit the activist scene and set a new standard of celebricaring.

What’s that, you say– you aren’t famous? Nonsense.  You are on Facebook.  You are in a professional network, either in the office, on LinkedIn, through membership to professional groups or all of the above.  You are a member of a family, a group of friends, a neighborhood, the parents’ committee for the little league down the street.  You are known, loved, and trusted by many, and you don’t need a fat royalties check to prove it.  YOU are the spokesperson your charity has been looking for!

So: here is my altruistically inclined version of “Stars– just like us!”  Take a look at these three sites sponsored by celebs which will help YOU become a celeb-sized fundraiser for your organization:

1. Six Degrees: www.sixdegrees.org

What does the phrase six degrees make you think of?  Yes, indeed– Kevin Bacon has a fundraising site in partnership with Network for Good, that bastion of online best practices for nonprofits.  With the tagline, “Be a Celebrity for your Cause,” Six Degrees works through a system of badges, which are just pint-sized fundraising tags containing a photo/logo, a video, a paragraph on the nonprofit, and– of course!– a one-click way to donate to the cause you are promoting.   Anyone can create a badge for their favorite organization or cause, or search the database to see if one already exists.  Once you find or make the badge of your choice, you can add it to nearly anything online– websites, email signature tags, MySpace pages, Facebook, etc.  This way, visitors to any number of sites can see the cause, choose to donate, or choose to copy the badge themselves and spread the work even more.  Six Degrees is a wonderful system for giving your supporters a “call to action” that does not require a tremendous amount of money on their part, but could help them RAISE a nice chunk of money for your cause.

(Just like US Moment: Celebrity friends of Bacon have created their own cause badges, which you can view and donate to, as well.)

2. Crowdrise: www.crowdrise.com

Six Degrees badges are the ultimate in portability and flexibility, but they only allow for minimal amounts of information to be spotlighted.  Crowdrise, founded by the socially conscious Edward Norton, works with the creation of whole pages for a cause.  It can be for a special event, marathon, volunteer project, or general support– in any case, as the creator of the page you have incentive to make it as compelling and entertaining as possible because points are given to pages based on the votes the page receives from the community, as well as for every dollar raised.  Top point earners are given foursquare-style honors and rewards, and those who donate to help you meet specific weekly goals will be entered to win Crowdrise prizes like MacBooks, iPods, Kindles, and more.  They also have guaranteed prizes, like crowdrise hoodies, hats, and messenger bags.  Stuff you WOULD give to your friends to say thank you, if you could, right?  By getting people to view and vote on your page, or to donate for your 5K fun run through THIS site, it will benefit your charity, give your friends a chance to win some celebrity swag, AND give you the pat on the back you deserve.

3. ONE: www.one.org

Bono.  Bob Geldorf.  Christy Turlington Burns.  That great actress from Friday Night Lights and Spin City, whose name I can’t remember.  And those are just the celebrities on the home page.  All of Ocean’s Eleven is showing support somewhere, as well!  ONE is an organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty around the globe.  It was founded by Bono, and is a really fantastic example of a group of celebrities lending their “cool” to an organization to generate buzz, big financial support, and bring attention to an important issue.  How YOU can use it: ONE’s site is a one-stop shop (pardon the pun) with information on a variety of issues which contribute to extreme poverty.  After you learn a few of the facts, there is a great action page which will let you take action however you feel most comfortable: signing petitions, engaging local media, lobbying congress, or just wearing the cool tshirts and wristbands.  That’s it!

(For nonprofits: I know this site can’t be used to support YOUR coffers, but the action area of this site is really worth a look.  Does your website have an area where potential supporters can TAKE ACTION instead of donating cash?  It should.)

So– what are you waiting for?  Dodge the paparazzi and go be a fundraising superstar!

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The New Face(book) of Searching Online

February 18, 2010

Facebook has scored a double knock out this month, and the implications for organizations and nonprofit social networking are amazing.  Two pieces of news:

1) Facebook has surpassed Google as the top source for directing internet traffic to web biggies Yahoo and MSN.  (Full story here.)

2) Facebook has surpassed Yahoo and is now the number two most visited site on the web, right behind Google.  (Full story here.)

This is pretty incredible news– Facebook’s purpose of connecting friends and family networks has transformed into a function formerly only filled by official search engines.  Facebook has created a trusted network so pervasive that people are navigating the web based on what they read on their friend’s pages, and the sharing of links on the site is a major driver of traffic elsewhere.

What struck me immediately was how much this reflected a reality that nonprofits and fundraisers already know.  When a donor is being asked to contribute, who can best represent your organization to get the results you want?  An impeccably credentialed development director who has met the potential donor a few times, or the Board member who is a good friend and business colleague?

People trust what they hear from friends, family, colleagues, and others with whom they have a trusted, existing relationship.  The emergence of Facebook as a powerhouse of a web traffic cop– directing people to sites, organizations, and news that is interesting– well, that is the essence of why social networking is a free marketing boon for nonprofits, drawing upon long-standing best practices and letting your supporters do your recruiting for you.

So if you aren’t using Facebook yet… what are you waiting for?

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Dipping Your Nonprofit Toes into Social Networking

December 1, 2009

I’ve worked at enough nonprofits to know that the subheading running through most heads right now is something like, “Without Wasting All Your Time On Something That Doesn’t Bring In Money Or Help Programs.”  With resources stretched tight at many nonprofits– never moreso than lately– it may seem a bit fatuous to expect that on top of a normal 11-hour day, there is an employee hanging about who would like to update the Twitter feed or make a YouTube video.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that developing a Facebook following and an e-newsletter and a YouTube community are going to fill the coffers in the first year.  Or the second year.  Or possibly the fifth.  Short term monetary gain is not a compelling reason to do it.

So why do it at all, then?  Because statistics show that donors who contribute the most money to nonprofits every year are fifty years and older.  Which means that ten years from now, the first huge surge of Facebooking, blogging, Twittering donors will start making big contributions to those organizations that reach out to them effectively.  I am no fortune teller, but I have a feeling that will not be the organizations who exclusively do once a year snail-mail appeals.

Cultivating today what will bear fruit tomorrow– isn’t that what development is all about?  Creating bridges between a donor and a cause is something that social networks are uniquely positioned to do.  Donors are empowered to be ambassadors and activists: asking Facebook friends to check out a new Cause they joined, or submitting a 30-second video to promote universal healthcare, or getting real-time updates out to a group of people who care about a particular legislation.  These are roles that used to be played only by expert nonprofit staff– now, by relinquishing just a bit of control, your nonprofit can gain the power of thousands more voices.

Will this pay for program overhead, necessarily?  No.  But it may just garner you loyal supporters for years to come.

So when you are ready to wiggle those toes in the cool waters of social networking, here are a five top tips on how to successfully start that won’t tax your current budget or require oodles of staff time:

1.Pick The Right Social Networks

Going from zero status updates to 5 different websites, a blog, and a vlog may be setting yourself up for failure at the start.  Instead, be strategic: do you want young people who can volunteer for you and get their friends to help out?  Maybe MySpace is right for you.  Do you have alumni who want to connect, share stories, and create a warm fuzzy feeling that engenders generosity?  Nothing better than Facebook!  Whatever your needs, know what they are and choose 1-3 social networking tools which you believe will help you in tangible ways– even if it’s not monetary at first.

2. Fill Your Networks with Exciting, Viral Content

Is anything more depressing than a Youtube video of a guy behind a desk, giving a jargon-laden speech about why his nonprofit deserves your cash?  Unfathomable program talk will not win your cause friends and supporters, no matter how well-intentioned.  Instead, try pithy, compelling updates and links via Twitter.  Or edgy and provocative videos made by clients instead of staff.  Be aware that people have lots of things to capture their attention at any given moment.  Be fun, be informative, be grass roots– and most of all, be interesting!

3. Provide a Way for Donors to Get News and Give You Money Online

Websites are not social networking per se, but they are still a worthwhile point to touch on.  If your website does nothing else, make sure that it can a) provide pictures and news stories that illustrate the great work your organization does, and b) give visitors a one-click way to support you with donations.  Network for Good is a wonderful resource not only for all things web-related, but also for a free online service that allows nonprofits to receive and track their online donations without the hassle of bank fees.

5. Update Frequently: 7 to 1 Rule Still Applies!

Whether you are using Twitter, Facebook, or e-newsletters, you won’t be very effective if the only time your supporters hear from you is when you want something.  A wise mentor of mine once told me about the magic seven to one ratio: donors should hear from you seven times with something that interests them for every one time you ask for something that interests YOU.  Think of social networking as a great and inexpensive way to keep you and your organization on a donor’s mind with exciting and weekly updates.  That way, when you want to ask for money or volunteers, they will feel more inclined to help you out.

And finally– how about you?  Social networking horror stories?  Great successes?  Extra tips?  Feel free to share in the comments!

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