Friday, October 22, 2010

Networks of Support

In a recent post on my blog I wrote about how important it is to have a personal support network in times of struggle. This past week Alyssa and I visited several of Community Shares member nonprofits and did video interviews with executive directors, staff, and clients at each (look for a new digital library coming soon!) Forgive the camera work because I was so compelled by the conversations we had that I could barely keep the camera straight and Alyssa has suggested that we line up a tripod for our next interviews!

What I heard from David Burgess at the Charg Resource Center, Terrell Curtis from The Delores Project, and Tammy Mulligan and Amanda Baker at Denver Urban Ministries is just how important it is for them not only provide support but also to encourage their visitors to start building personal networks. At Denum, we saw people using the computer lab to catch up with friends and family, update resumes, and even promote their poetry (see Alyssa's post below!) When thinking about homelessness I usually remember people's need food and shelter. I forget that basic human needs include the desires to connect with others, to be creative, to learn, and to share your talents.

This morning I stumbled onto the Invisible People Blog which brings awareness to homelessness through social media. Mark Horvath, the sites founder knows what it is like to be homeless and has helps homeless people build out their network and their skills through social media. He started We Are Visible, a project which has received funding through the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Just another example of how "gamechanging" social media is for the nonprofit sector and for the causes and people we serve.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Go Digital to Humanize!

Jason and I both loved this article written by Kate Rogers included in the October 19th Nonprofit Times e-newsletter.  The overarching point of the article is summed up perfectly in the title: Micro-Messages, Strengthening your brand via online relationships.  Our social media goals center around three areas - brand strength, our value-add relationship, and storytelling - so this article was a nice electronic pat on the back of our marketing instincts.

What jumped out at me from this article was the concept of using digital media to humanize your nonprofit.  We think a lot about our voice in written communication and whether it is meeting our branding goal to be considered "your friend in philanthropy".  But why not let people get to know the staff and our member agencies in a more human way through actual conversations and smiles?

Community Shares launched a "stop reading, start watching" philosophy for our communications in 2010.  We are getting out and on site with our member nonprofit organizations and shooting digital videos with a flip camera donated to us by our super duper tech consultant, Kathryn Codo.  Off the cuff interviews with staff and clients to put a human face on how our message of "$1 a day" reaches front line providers and those they serve.

Here's a great humanizing moment we captured today at Denver Urban Ministries.  We popped into the computer lab to do a 30 second video of the Executive Director, Tammy Mulligan, talking about the benefits of the computer lab.  Instead, we ended up with Tyrone sharing poetry and showing us the human side of the people DenUM serves.

DenUM Poet - Tyrone

Tammy followed up with this great story - a double barrel shotgun humanizer to the heart.

This video taken at Delores Project has a nice moment on top of Terrell Curtis sharing her experience as a staff member.  Terrell nods to a staff member off camera who has recently placed two women in homes and you can hear a CSC staff member say "congratulations" off screen.  You can see the human relationships of people on staff and Terrell's appreciation of her team.

The Delores Project - Community

Friday, October 15, 2010

Facebook Impressions - Ads for Nonprofits: Volume 1

There was a great article posted on titled, "Facing up to Facebook - Social media adds a new dimension to marketing".  First, since it's Colorado Biz Magazine, the majority of the businesses featured are in Colorado so you are more likely to be aware of the specific campaigns and brands they mention.  Second, it got me thinking about how Community Shares thinks about marketing and costs and some potential shifts in mindset.

The key statistics/concepts:
  • Facebook accounts for 10% of all time spent online by EVERYONE
    • This blew my mind... Facebook accounts for 10% of all internet usage time!!!  I can't even wrap my head around that stat yet.
  • 50% of Facebook users are between 18-34
    • You know how much 50% of Facebook users equal?  250 million people.
  • Women in their 50s and 60s are the fastest growing demographic
    • I set up an account for my mom over the weekend, contributing to that stat.
  • Social media as "scalable word of mouth"
    • Yes, I will be using that expression ad nauseum in future trainings.
  • Back again to the core concept we've got our eye on - social media as brand extension with unquantifiable impact on the monetization of your product
  • If you haven't already, it's time to Like Community Shares.
I've been kicking around how we are going to measure success in our social media work.  Certainly click-throughs are ideal (followed by a comment and a pledge to be BFF forever) but how should we quantify the value of impressions?

I'm setting up a social media science project* using Facebook Ads.  Here's what I'm thinking:
  • One boring ad that will get very few clicks but will have a huge number of impressions.
  • One bizarre/look at this ad that will get attention but the impressions won't connect to our brand without a click.
  • One targeted campaign with a return on investment.  (i.e. Time limited, voting based, prize drawn...)
Part of me loves the boring ad I already put up while thinking about the other two.  It costs nothing unless people click. So far that's meant 26k impressions by college educated Coloradans with no clicks.  For $0.00, we've put our logo up in front of our target audience 26k times.

This is volume one of our foray into Facebook ads at Community Shares.  We'll keep you posted on our science project*.

*Why "science project"?
Although I am a mathlete (1988 Math Olympics representing St. Anne's School), I don't have a lot of science experiment skills.  Anything that involves measuring results makes me think science!  If that is alarming to you, keep in mind that no science education is required in my job description.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adapting Your Policies to Social Media

Social media is not a toy. People have found a new way to communicate and nonprofits are rapidly catching on by building new relationships, promoting their missions and accomplishments, and having active, "real-time" conversations with their community.

But innovation is rarely as simple as that and nonprofits would be wise to observe what can happen when they take a reactive stance to social media.

Recently, Alyssa passed this article over to me. The article calls into question the personal activity of an employee with the Colorado Department of Ag's Animal Protection Bureau. It seems as though the chief of the department doesn't share the same personal feelings on animal rights as his employer. His posts ignited the passions of animal lovers everywhere and attracted far too much negative attention to the department.

Blue Avacado also responded to a letter about employee use of Facebook. The title: Facebook + Employees =Yikes! says it all and although I agree that nonprofits need to adapt to a changing communications landscape, I completely disagree with being fearful of social media.

We typically fear things we don't know enough about. Overcome your fear by putting together a policy. This will help you learn more and identify proper practices by those affiliated with your organization. Take the values and priorities of your organization and adapt them to social media. There are plenty of excellent existing policies that can be modified to suit your needs.
Nonprofits nor their employees need to feel fearful about this new media, but these still maturing communication channels do deserve some attention whether you plan on using them or not. Chances are that your employees ARE using them!

Use this opportunity to educate your employees about your brand and let them know what is expected of them when communicating in public. Show them how they can help your organization grow and what should, and more importantly should not, be said publicly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Race and Social Media

Have you ever noticed that the majority of social media trainings you attend (let's get real: all trainings in general) gloss over how race impacts the game? Considering how demographic shifts - particularly around race - are up there with generational and technology shifts when it comes to impending gamechangers for the nonprofit sector, it's time to get smart about race and social media. The first step is ceasing to quote outdated information about the minority majority being late adopters to social media.

Recent surveys show that young blacks and latinos spend more time on their phones each day than their white counterparts. As this piece about "To Be Young, Digital, and Black" points out, the narrative about the digital divide got undue airtime and allowed people to not closely look at actual trends in usage.

Here are a few places to start when you are thinking about social media and race.

Black Web 2.0

Latinos in Social Media

Use of Technology by Urban Youth

To Be Young, Digital and Black

It's good to be young, digital and black. And that's a fact!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Common Sense Social Media for Your Nonprofit

Jason and I just wrapped up a training for the Fall 2010 Colorado Nonprofit Association Conference titled: Common Sense Social Media for Your Nonprofit.

View the entire Common Sense Social Media PowerPoint here.

Key Take-Aways:
  • Forget the tools themselves initially
    • Each tool is used for different types of conversations
  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • How/Where do they like to interact?
  • What do they want to talk about?
  • Now choose the tools you use!
Create a stakeholder list for your organization (who you do talk to you and who you want to talk to) and then find out where they spend their time online.  For Community Shares, that looks like this:
  • Individuals – Personal Facebook
  • Nonprofits – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
  • HR Directors – LinkedIn, Industry Blogs, Comment Boards
  • Local Media – Comment Boards, Twitter
  • Local Foundations – (late adopters) Twitter
  • Innovators – Twitter, Self-Published Blogs, Industry Blogs, Comment Boards
  • Connectors – LinkedIn, Personal FB
  • Industry Peers – (late adopters) Twitter
This means we need to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and start reaching out to comment and interact on industry blogs.  (Welcome to Digital (non)Prophets!)

  • brand has attributes
    • word used to describe brand – functional and emotional
  • brand has benefits
    • experience of association
    • because I use this product, I am this
    • because I give to this nonprofit, I am this
  • attributes are important, benefits are more important

In a future blog post we'll share our specific strategies for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and My Colorado. For now, here's our umbrella strategy:

Community Shares intentionally uses social media to extend our brand reach and validate our brand attributes and personality.  Please refer to our brand attributes and personality when selecting and composing content on social media sites.  All posts should work in harmony with our branding goals.